Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Havana, Cuba. Winter 2015. This post is only about my personal experience in Havana and the information is based on the talks with locals. It is not a critic to their system from which I do not have enough background information.
The sharing value
A thousand political questions pop up when one steps in Cuba. When I asked about the topic, often the reply was "We are not allowed to talk about politics" but the answer was hidden in conversations that weren't directly about their system. In a conversation about "Ego" a gentlemen said that ego is good when it comes out of helping others but you have to help on the right way. "If you have 5 cents to help out, you don't give 5 cents to one person and help one person only. You give 1 cent to 5 people and help 5 people instead". Then I noticed his socialist background (or communist, as we usually call their system). It made sense.
Also, there was no advertising for luxurious brands, or brands at all but more about the people "Health for everybody", "Socialism is the answer". When I asked a seller of vintage cameras if it was his business he said "Well, it's not really mine. Everything here is from the government". Or a taxi driver said "I built my home but it is from the government". Nobody seems to own anything over there, everything is from and for everybody. But it is not as nice as it sounds, I got skimmed a few times because some people wanted to earn a bit more than the basics and tourists are an easy target for that. Maybe there are so many people to share with that living with the basics only eventually creates discomfort.
This kids were sharing a pair of rollerskates.
The streets are a paradise of decadence full of beautiful smiles and revolutionary souls.
Decadence contrasts with those vehicles that are collection cars in Europe but taxi's in Cuba. Being surrounded by those make the trip to Cuba like a trip in time, back to the 50's.
At some houses, trees grow from the ceilings and out of the windows while families actually live there. The walls are so old and humid that they became art of moss and fallen paint.
A good thing is that nothing gets wasted. Cars and broken machines aren't thrown away or replaced like they would in Europe, they get fixed and reused. People must have skills for this and of course, it is very good for the environment not to produce daily tons of garbage. The garbage I saw was mostly organic. "We may not have much but we all have got something and we've got all we need. Everybody can go to the hospital" said a taxi driver.
"Fruta bomba" is how they call papaya over there and it tastes amazing. I never saw such huge papayas or avocado's, seriously they are huge over there. Also very tasty, the sun does a great job growing fruits and veggies.
If you are traveling to Cuba, I strongly recommend you to try the licuados (milkshakes) from the street and I recommend to evade pizza's. For pizza's go to Italy, in Cuba better taste fruit cocktails.
Etnicity and cults
African influence is clear in Havana, from the african drums to the muscular bodies of Cubans. A few centuries ago, slaves were brought from Ghana, Togo, etc; to serve wealthy American or Spanish families. Slaves lived on the first floor and the family on top of that. There is a variety of african cults and music because of this part of the Cuban history.
At the photo-exposition "Diversity" there was a quote related to the slavery time.
"The unfortunate slave was brought naked to Cuba. He had to leave everything in his homeland, he brought nothing material, everything he had he brought it inside".
Decens of people looking at their mobiles is a common picture for most of us living in Europe or North America. In Cuba this only happens at some spots that happen to have a router, like outside a hotel. To purchase an internet card of 30 min for a dollar, people have to stand in long lines. It was unthinkable how in some countries we have 24 hour internet access and a router at home.
Besides the cars, another vintage habit is using telephone cabins to call. There are a few cabins in every central street.
People are beautiful in the mystery of their thoughts.
Havana is an enriching experience.
Thank you for visiting my blog and have a great day.