Sunday, April 24, 2011


Jill and I went to Cuba for a week. We spent half our time roasting on the beach and the other half cruising the countryside doing touristy things. We learned quite a bit about the country: history, the revolution, the communist party, the economy, the people, and a lot of recent reforms. It was totally fascinating.

The weather was hot sun every day. Consistently 30+. The breeze was always strong so it made the heat totally bearable. The dry season is just coming to an end so we saw lots of planted bananas, pineapples, papayas, sugarcane, and mango orchards.

We spent a day in Havana with a guide who was a major history scholar. We saw Spanish forts build in 1504 just after Christopher Columbus discovered the island. The architecture is pretty unreal and the entire old city is being restored using money they got from the UN after being declared a world heritage site. We got there as the Cubans were celebrating their military victory 50 years after they defeated the US at the Bay of Pigs. I watched a huge military parade on state-run television. We went to Revolution Square and saw a pile of interesting monuments to Castro's overthrow of the U.S. mafia controlled Cuban government of the day. The country is littered with images of Che Guevara but no monuments to Castro himself. Our guide told us that he passed a law banning monuments to himself while he's still alive. Apparently he saw Stalin do it in the Soviet Union and thought it was a douchey move! Nice.

The vintage cars are super cool. They account for at least half of the wheels on the road. Cuban mechanics are a well-respected lot and with good cause. The cars have all been gutted of their original gas engines and converted to run on Soviet and Chinese diesel parts. Smart.

What was also really interesting was the utter lack of advertising... anywhere. No commercials on T.V. No billboards on the highways. No signs anywhere telling you what to buy. Also no competition since prices for generally everything are fixed. You just go to the closest store and buy what you want. That said... just hope all you want is tourist trinkets, beer, rum, or cigars. Good luck finding anything else.

1 comment:

  1. I heard a lady on the bus say that she and her husband went to a grocery store and the security guard told her that she couldn't bring her purse into the store and it had to be left outside. Which of course would be stupid, so they left. Also I think they sell brand name Pringles there. Did you see all the people with tubes of Pringles? Do you think everyone brought them from Canada?