A Travellerspoint blog

Cuba

Cuba

Viva la revolucion.

sunny 35 °C

Bits and pieces to follow from Mexico and chunks of the US broken into hopefully digestable sections but for the moment I would like to concentrate on our comrades living an alternative lifestyle on an island in the Caribbean. While the rest of us have been slitting each others throats to get ahead in the rat race one bastion of socialism survives. (I don't count North Korea as it sounds a bit like 1984 or Chavez in Venezuela as it sounds a bit like a bad Bond film - or other places I don't know about). The Soviet Bloc gave up the ghost, Vietnam won the war but ended up making Nike's in any case and what else is there? And more than anything Fidel passed on power to Raul and no-one knows what that means but either it means change or (based upon the average age - 70 - of the politburo) change a bit later on, it seemed a good time to see it. See what it is, or was, or at least see it and tell people what they wished it to be. Whatever. Attention please, introductions first order of business. Please welcome back Pat and Alex (Patricio y Alejandro in this part of the world) who none of you will remember from the Chile boat trip.

patshades.jpgalhavinalaugh.jpg

Managed to meet up with them in Mexico and luck would have it they had dinner plans with Fidel. Asked if I could join and being generous types they let me tag along.

So what would you associate with Cuba? Salsa 'til morning? Rum and cigars? Che, Fidel and the boys? Old missiles and cars? Waterboarding in jumpsuits? Midgets in bra's? You would, of course, be mostly correct in these assumptions but it was both more and less than expected in a way that is difficult to adequately explain. As such I think the photos will be the good bit and the words will try to do a Damian Hirst on the bad bits. Thats the plan at least and as Fidel will tell you, if you don't have a plan then what chance have you got of rocking up to the parliament building with a couple of tanks and some wide eyed commies and getting yourself a country? None at all I think we all agree.

Visited Havana first. Primarily due to extensive research but also because that is where the plane landed. Got a taxi to roll in. Couldn't turn it down really.

taxicuba.jpg

havanavieja1.jpghavanavieja2.jpg

And rather randomly this as well.

notrumpets.jpg

Revolution may well be most excellent but if people start rocking up with trumpets then even the fabric of communist societies may come apart at the stitches. So don't take one if you go. They're not mucking around.

wallpainting.jpg

Talking of which, Cuba must be the only place in the world where all the graffiti is pro-government. All of it.

Bit of this too.

patriaomuerte.jpg

Although my favourite was the "NO FASCISMO" with a huge painting of Hitler on it. I think we can all agree with that but somehow rarely feel the need to get cracking on a billboard to remind people. Can't be too careful I suppose.

Havana will give most people an awesome opportunity to take pictures which scream Cuba but there was something missing. We had the impression that Cuba was rocking until dawn every night but that we just couldn't find it. In reality there are clubs and bars and places to go at night but mixing with locals is a bit more complicated. Mainly because they are all super friendly for the first 3 minutes and then try to sell you something, anything. I understand the background stuff, poverty, bit of oppression, rich gringo's passing through. I get it, really. It was just a little disappointing that one place I had always wanted to go, speaking enough Spanish to get some feeling from the people and all I actually found available were 80's hookers, cheap cigars and nutters. Only purchased the odd cigar for info.

dudeinhavana.jpg

Wish I could be that cool. Being white not the best start I'll give you.

Cuba runs on 2 currencies. Pesos convertibles for you and I and pesos cubanos for the locals. Convertibles are supposed to be about 1:1 with the dollar but vary wildly which is weird as they are not internationally tradeable. Pesos cubanos are paid to people by the state. These are not given out in significant numbers nor are they worth much which is an issue if you are a local. One bloke said they get paid the equivalent of 20 US a month. This does not go far even in Cuba. As such the locals are all gunning for some black market convertibles. Only way to survive really.

All got a bit much combined with the heat so headed for a bar to cool off.

lidinbar.jpgboysinarumbar.jpgcigars.jpg

And so on. We went to a place called cafe de paris where some bloke did some caricatures of us. Sounds rubbish but we were impressed.

patcaricature.jpgalcaricature.jpglidcaricature.jpg

More blue jeans indeed.

Headed out of the city (which with all of the 1950's cars looks cool but is horrendously polluted) and went South. Trinidade. Chilled.

oldmantrinidade.jpg

50scar.jpgrevoluciones.jpg

Place called casa di musica rocks salsa etc every night. Very friendly types, no Liddington dancing though. Didn't stop the fellas.

boysgaysalsa.jpg

Gay.

Better.

All in all. Cuba is really cool. Havana is hectic and pretty dirty but well worth seeing. You walk around every corner and you could be nowhere else. It has a look about it that can only be Cuba. Truly amazing. Outside of Havana is more chilled and the people give you a bit of space. Well, a bit more space at least. And they drink and dance lots which is never a bad thing. And if you want to hang out and look relatively cool in pictures, its the place to go.

vivacubalibre.jpg

Viva cuba libre amigos.

Thanks to Pat and Al for being most excellent. Made the 2 weeks for me boys. Very cool. Hope the family is well Pat. Take care both of you.

Have a good next section of your life. The 3 Amigos shall ride again... and... has anyone seen my elbow, been trying to lick it for the last 3 hours.
Lid

Posted by lidster 17:38 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]