Category: Cuba, 2013

Reflections on Cuba, and Hasta Luego

May 3

Early breakfast on the roof, before setting forth for the airport. On the bus I read the spoof blog that I wrote of what really happened on our trip, which is very well received by the group. We have three hours at the airport, which I spend talking to Doug, Isabella and Michael, and looking at the fabulous photos that Doug took on two prior trips to Cuba, which he has on his iPad. Some reflections on the trip.

Cuba was great, and I’d definitely consider a return trip. It would be nice to be able to do that other than in a group (even though our group was very good and fun), but that doesn’t seem likely in the near term. As expected, I enjoyed being with some more than others in our group, but there were no real problem people.

On the cultural side, it would have been nice to have had more contact with people. There was not the level of give and take that I’d expected with Cuban photographers, and I did not get a sense of anyone opening up to discuss the Cuban political system. The American embargo has has a big impact on Cuba, and there’s resentment for that and for the imprisonment of the Cuban Five, but there was no apparent hostility towards us, as Americans. People were very friendly and we got a sense of Cuban food, dance and music. (Okay, here’s a bit of Cuban music trivia, courtesy of my friend and loyal British follower, Pat Hemmens. The well-know song Guantanamera is based on a poem of Jose Marti, the Cuban revolutionary hero after whom the Havana airport is named.)

Certain stops we made were particularly interesting–Korda’s daughter’s house, Josie’s house, the apartment building, the horse whispering and the Santarian church. The evening at the Tropicana was quite an experience and the music and dance we saw everywhere were fun. But best was just wandering around the streets and photographing.

Both Havana and Trinidad are appealing cities in different ways. Havana is being restored, albeit very slowly, to some of its former grandeur. The charm of Trinidad is being preserved because of it having been designated a UNESCO site. Of course, there is much of Cuba that we did not see.

Cuba is definitely changing. The ability to own businesses spear-headed by Raul Castro is huge. This gives people hope of earning some money that will allow them to live better. One does not get any of the sense of a people beaten down by their government, as we did in Myanmar. It would be interesting to come back in a few years to see what changes have occurred, and so that Carol can see Cuba. Maybe by then Florida won’t be a key electoral swing state, so that the US can establish some semblance of a sensible relationship with Cuba. Or perhaps some candidate will show a little courage. But I’m not holding my breath.

Thanks for following, and for your comments. Next stop: Nigeria in August.

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