A Travellerspoint blog

Cuban Friends

sunny 28 °C

Daily life for Cubans is a challenge, yet they are among the most generous and warmhearted people in the world. Here we are enjoying dinner with our friends Lourdes, Marisol and Rita at a restaurant in Havana...
And this is Sheila with Heather, a childhood friend from England, in front of Revolution Place and the images of Che Guevara and Jose Marti – two of Cuba’s most admired figures...
We met up with Heather at the end of her tour of Mexico and Cuba. Touring is easy and relatively inexpensive for foreigners in Cuba and it is easy to overlook the difficulties and privations suffered by the locals. Shopping for even basic foods like flour, butter, cheese, coffee and tea, can be a frustrating, time consuming, and sometimes a fruitless exercise. However, there is a thriving black market, (known here as ‘the black bag’ (bolsa negra)). For instance: there were no eggs in the stores but we saw dozens of people carrying trays of eggs like this...
We then discovered that each tray cost just $1.30 (about a pound) off the back of a truck. Anyone with a few dollars could buy hundreds of eggs and make a tidy profit by selling them individually for a few cents to friends and neighbours.
In the face of 60 years of American blockade, and numerous attempts by Washington to destroy their economy and morale, the Cubans have become incredibly ingenious at keeping old machinery running. We were in Vinales at the time of the annual carnival and were surprised to see American fairground rides from the 1930s still going strong...
Even the portable toilets looked like leftovers from World War II...
Thousands of battered yank tanks from the 1950s, with more than a million miles on the clock, ferry locals around Havana for 50 cents a time, while a ride in one of the superbly restored cars from the same period is reserved for tourists with deeper pockets...
The streets of Cuba are filled with old cars that would be on the scrap heap almost anywhere else in the world, but here they are incredibly valuable. Imagine having to pay nearly $20,000 US (14,000 UK Pounds) for a 1980 Lada. Yet, despite the inconveniences and shortages the Cubans know how to enjoy themselves. These are our Vinales friends, Osvedy, Leyani and their two sons, treating us to a pizza lunch...
After a couple of months of daily sightseeing and travelling throughout South America our ten days in Cuba were spent simply relaxing with friends and practising our Spanish. We are now home. The temperature has plummeted by more than 20 degrees and spring doesn’t seem in a hurry to arrive – a good time to reflect on our summer in the Southern Hemisphere. .

Posted by Hawkson 15:33 Archived in Cuba

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Lots of lovely memories for you. Glad you are home but wish it was warmer for all of us. Thanks for sharing your journeys with us, your faithful followers.

by Sue Fitzwilson

The Cubans are survivors.

by Janet Vickers

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