|Spanish Fortress at the entrance to the harbour in Havana|
Who says Vision Boards don't work? In 2000 I stuck a picture of a blue vintage car like this on my Vision Board (trendy at the time) and decided that Cuba was one of the places I wanted to see. My sister had been there as a volunteer twice and couldn't stop talking about how friendly the people were and how modestly they lived.
|That blue car!|
My experience wasn't at all like that. In fact, I felt that I had come about forty years too late. My first encounter was with a taxi driver who charged me fifty dollars to take me from the airport when it should have cost less than half that, as I later found out. The friendly man who offered to show me where the bank was demanded payment afterwards for walking me one or two blocks even though I hadn't asked him to. These are just two examples. Although things were much better once I was out of the city, they tended to leave a sour taste. Eventually I found an honest taxi driver who didn't keep my change and I called him whenever I had to go anywhere in this sprawling town.
|Alexander the honest cabbie with Havana in the background|
Cubans may not earn much , even a doctor earns only $15 - $30 per month, but in terms of universal education and medical care they are way ahead of many other countries, especially in Latin America. They also have their own stores where basic goods including cigarettes are much cheaper than in conventional shops.
That said, I did have a good time in Cuba. It was hot and tropical, around 27 -32oC with 100% humidity and the golden thongs I'd bought in desperation because I couldn't get my snazzy boots back on after flying to Europe, certainly came into their own. Palm trees lined the squares and broad avenues. The beds were comfortable and most places had air conditioning.
|My bed at Casa Barbara was a welcome sight!|
|Thank you Barbara for all the coffee and for feeding me when my card didn't work!|
|The bicycle taxi driver|
|One of the oldest churches|
|Beautifully restored buildings in the Plaza de Armas|
|The back streets of Old Havana|
|Despite the embrace of Capitalism, Che and the heroes of the Revolution are not forgotten|