Friday, February 8, 2013

Cuba 2013 Part I

In preparing for my trip to Cuba, I will admit, I was nervous.  I did not know what to expect.  So I created some interesting scenarios in my mind.  I steadied myself as I was prepared for rolling blackouts, limited internet access, and rice and beans for every meal.  I expected to see poverty and suffering at every corner.  And I thought we would encounter a strong police and military presence every where we traveled.

Needless to say, what we encountered along the way was far different from the possibilities I created in my mind.

To be fair, Cuba is a land filled with many contradictions.  It is a third world country.  

And yet, it has universal healthcare, and 97% of the country has electricity.  

It has highways and yet there are almost no cars outside of Havanah.  And the cars in Havanah, aside from those used by diplomats and tourists are both the classic American cars circa 1959-1961 along with the not-so-classic Russian cars.

It is a Communist police state, and yet the One Party does take into account the concerns of its citizens.  

Information is tightly controlled, and internet access is almost non-existent, even in tourist spots.  And yet American television and movies are widely available.  And for those who are inventive enough the can find out the news of the world.

The United States has a Cuba embargo, and yet Americans are loved in Cuba (or at least our dollars are).

There is rationing, and yet those who are enterprising are seeing cracks in the communist system and are able to open small capitalistic enterprises.

Music is everywhere.  It seems like everyone knows how to Salsa.  And there is a burgeoning art movement.  

In later posts I am planning to speak more about the Jewish communities of Cuba as well about our experiences.  Consider this a sampling, a beginning of a conversation of an amazing and confusing country.

(Thanks to Arni for this picture - and yes I am related to the guy standing next to me)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

That's great. Looking forward to more.