A Travellerspoint blog

Stop 28 - Havana

Its 1966 again...

sunny 33 °C
View Waite World Tour on carlagregory's travel map.

Well we're finally back in Mexico and I think the internet access is worse here than in Cuba! I've been trying for 3 days to get pictures uploaded and the blog done - its taking for ages!!! So now I give up. I'll post the blogs but the pictures might take a little bit longer to appear.

Anyhoo, here is the Havana entry I wrote whilst in Cuba. Enjoy :)

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Angry birds, angry birds and more angry birds. It's like we're living in 2002 and we don't have the internet. At least we don't have to play snake on our Nokia 6110.

For so many years Adam has been saying "We need to go to Cuba! It's not going to remain as it is for much longer...." Well he might be right. But not because Obama opened up trade routes; probably because it is too far beyond repair that it needs to be pulled down!

What was I expecting going into Cuba?? Old cars and old buildings...and you do see those. However 85% - 90% of the buildings are derelict and falling apart. There is so much filth and decay everywhere you look and possibly a little bit of beauty.

I asked both Lucas and James if they could live here. There responses were:
James "No"
Me "Why not?"
James "Its too hot and busy"

Lucas "Yeah but I reckon I'd live by the beach and build a modern place"
Adam "Where are you going to get the building materials from?"
Lucas "I'd just import them"
Adam "I think you've missed the whole point of the trip...They cant import stuff and that's half the problem"
Me "Do you think you could live in the city?"
Lucas "Yeah and I'd just buy a bike to get around"

Clearly they have not noticed the wreck and ruin that surrounds us daily as more observations by the two of them are...
James "Mum, I don't think these buildings are ancient...they have electricity and TV's and stuff"

And on another walk...

Me "That payphone is the place to be! There's always a line up for it"
Lucas "That's the first time I've seen a payphone. How good is it!? Its pretty fancy!"

During its day this city would have been absolutely stunning!! And I really wish I could have seen it in all its glory. I feel like I'm living in some sort of ghetto; I don't feel safe walking around, everyone looks angry and is yelling in Spanish the whole time. But at the same time there is music galore and as soon as someone turns on some music people are dancing in the street! And not just one group of paid dancers; these are regular people who are just hanging out on their stoops. They get up and start dancing in the street. And, if you actually stop and talk to people they are sooo friendly!

We took a ride on the hop on / hop off bus that took us on a circuit through the city and out into parts that we wouldn't be able to walk to. We went past the Copacabana hotel and I haven't been able to get Barry Manilow out of my head since! We didn't hop off anywhere because we had no idea where we were! We have no internet and we thought we had a lonely planet for Cuba on the iPad but it turns out we don't! So we have been completely blind in our travels this time. No idea where we are, where to go, what to eat....Are we doing more because of this? I'm not sure. Are we finding more because we're wandering and having to look for stuff to do? Maybe?!

One thing that is totally different here is the way they shop. After our bus ride sitting on the roof with the bright blue sky and sun beaming down I was burnt to a crisp so we had to head off to find some aloe vera gel. We also needed water so we headed to what we thought was the water store....turns out its the "we're selling whatever you can mix with water" store. I think we bought what was a moisturiser but it smells oddly like sunscreen....but I digress. To get into the store we had to line up out the front. As one person left, one person could enter. There is a security guard manning the door and locks it and unlocks it as people are coming in and out. And this is the norm for the majority of stores here! There is one person working behind the counter, all the products are behind the counter and they have to serve you individually. I feel like I'm in a TV show set in the mining boom out in the west as this is the only other time I have seen this type of service. It is incredibly frustrating!! If you go late in the day there is nothing left on the shelves.

The other annoying thing with their stores is the lack of signage to let you know it is a store. Windows are empty or have one mannequin in them and lights are never on. Is the place open for trade?? Who knows! The whole shopping experience really bothered me and got me quite angry - can you tell??

And on that note I think I need to say goodbye to Havana. Off to Varadero next for a holiday from our holiday.

Posted by carlagregory 15:56 Archived in Cuba

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