Day three in La Habana, Cuba…! :)
I feel a huge pressure, from these first days of my new travels… So much to see and do, so little time… All the while looking to fix visa, plan next, etc.
I'm starting to feel more comfortable in Cuba
I'm still feeling somewhat uncomfy/ill at ease, generally.
Partly I'm concerned about my psychological health. It's part of travels, and rush periods, and more generally…
There are pressures, and it's hard to handle.
Try to stay sane…
At a certain point, ya have to just get out there.
If you're new to traveling, I recommend meeting people.
Learn the local language(s).
Walk on small islands.
Bike on large islands.
If you have a chance, take it.
People are generally more friendly than you'd think, but you do have to take precautions.
Find places that you actually like.
Get out of the touristy places.
Also visit the touristy places.
There are numerous ways to travel.
There are backup plans
Take your shots, when things don't turn out as planned, find alts.
In the ongoing saga of the massacre of my feet, the blisters now cover around half of my right foot, with a huge secondary role for the left foot.
Cuba is a very international country, for its size. Because of its location, and historical circumstances, the small country has a prominent role on the planetary stage. Cuba take pride in its internationality (if that's even a word). It boasts statues and monuments to diverse figures who have resided in Cuba or inspired its revolution. Havana also has numerous international restaurants. There's a China town, numerous English places, and so forth.
The economy seems to provide basic subsistence, such that one does not see much dire poverty. However, the country does not have much in the way of commerce. At numerous stores, the shelves are largely empty. I went into an optical store, and asked if they sold glasses. "Yes, but we don't have any now." I haven't seen numerous items for sale that are easy to find in other countries, such as sunblock. At least the city has tons of shade.
Prices here are cheap. I estimate that most things cost around one fifth as much as in a sizable American city. A large apartment goes for around $15 per night. A coffee costs five to fifty cents. The touristy areas are more expensive, perhaps around halfway between local Cuban prices and American prices.
There are some overt propaganda places. Throughout the country, there are large photos of Fidel, Che, and other figures, alongside lengthy quotes. I like the quotes, they are generally positive. The Cuban revolution has been much maligned in the United States, it does have its drawbacks, however it also provides a cohesive social structure.
The sign for radio was funny, showing the different frequencies in different locations, each broadcasting the state station.
The streets seem reasonable, but they do have a few uncovered holes into which one could fall.
There are horses on the main highways…
There are signs around town urging people to vote yes on the new constitution. I have not seen any signs arguing for no on the constitution, which may be a prohibited position. However, I was somewhat surprised at the country putting forth a vote for a new constitution.
The people do seem to be somewhat more American-oriented than I had expected. I have seen several American logos, etc.
There are a few word variants here… Also the accent is difficult to understand. Compared to other Spanish accents, Cuban speech is more slurred.
Cubans seem unaware of their difference from other Latinos, which makes the situation better.
Rum & Coke: the meeting point of Cuba & USA.
Getting set to leave my first apartment in Cuva! :)
The Cuban ppl are growing on me. They're decent.
I like how there are people out in the streets.
Cuba is not an ideal society. It lacks much in material comforts that people in some other countries have. However, overall it is a fairly decent society where the people generally have what they need. I think the people could benefit from some more wealth, although too much wealth would probably tear apart some of the fabric of the society. Also, the people generally do not seem especially happy or sad, although I think that is to some extent a reflection of their personality.
The US by contrast seems like perhaps a more fractured society. There is far more material wealth in the US, perhaps too much. There, people often seem to work to excess, and they are often rude. It's much more pleasant to be in Cuba, at least if you have some American $.
If one were a Cuban in Cuba, one would probably have a boring job and numerous frustrations, especially around poverty. However, one would have a cohesive society. I think (speculating) that a Cuban in Cuba would have a decent situation. It's perhaps not that special to be a Cuban in Cuba, but it's quite special to be a visitor here.
Reservation for next apartment fails. Have to make a new reservation. Internet now down. "Hay que recargar la cuenta" (have to refill the account).
Things go wrong in Cuba.
The food is bland.
In Miami Beach, I'm poor. In Havana, I'm filthy rich, renting a huge apartment in the fanciest part of the country.
A chore to get here. First booking fell through, host canceled. Made a second booking, and went for a walk. Ate heartily…
Viva el comunismo!
Met some German visitors.
Ate some mamey (tropical fruit).
Looked hard for wifi, but found none. After hours of walking, asking at various places, still no wifi. Getting late, but enjoying the walk.
I learned that the most common two words in Cuba are "no hay" ("there's none"). Can I buy glasses here? No hay. Can I buy a wifi card here? No hay. Do you sell ham, cheese, products like these? No hay.
The people are friendly. The listing for the second place showed no address directly. I dug deeper and found an address. Going there, I came across a fancy hotel instead of the rental apartment. A staff woman there called the landlady, and helped me find the place. The landlady's daughter, and a man who lives in the apartment just opposite, came and showed me the huge place.
Cuba has in many ways remained an agricultural/industrial society, because of its communism, although it is modernizing somewhat. Not just the American t-shirts. Also people have some electronics, despite the limited internet/TV/radio/media. The people remain decent in part because they still reside in the realm of moving things around, or pushing rocks, as Feynman would say. I think that if Cuba instituted more capitalistic policies, it would quickly succumb (in both a positive and negative sense) to American imperialism, or whatever you want to call it. The country would get flooded with American products and tourists. The Cubans would probably want it, happy to have more money, products, etc. I think it would dilute the local culture, though, making it more ordinary, less interesting. A somewhat unfortunate situation, that there's such a tradeoff between the interests of the local people and the interests of visitors.
Speaking of tourists, I came across a few today in a cigar store, Romeo y Julieta. Indoor smoking, fancy rum for cheap, etc. As soon as I heard North American English, I left.
Overall I prefer Latin cultures, they're happier and more laid back and more sensual/sensitive/sensuous/etc.
Many Cuban women are beautiful, by the way. Some are plain. I feel that the country overall has a somewhat more masculine tone. There are a bunch of butch women, in the US often becoming lesbian Cuban-Americans.
Things happen in Cuba according to a different rhythm, although they do happen. I kind of like the Cuban rhythm, now that I'm getting accustomed to it. Instead of just going out and having stuff happen, with a bunch of noise, as in America, you go out and things don't happen right away, but you have a beautiful time, and eventually somehow things seem to work themselves out.
My own rum diaries… From not drinking at all, after buying a bottle of rum I'm taking to imbibing a bit more frequently…
My feet are still killing me, at this point I'm hobbling around using a beach umbrella as a cane, when I'm not using it as a rain umbrella… It's usually sunny and tropically hot, although it rained most of this morning… Went to China town, had some Cuban-style Chinese food -- bland…
The streets are gorgeous…. Just walking through Havana is a major pleasure… The architecture, the people, etc.
Things are so inexpensive here, compared to the US, that it's tempting just to buy anything you come across…
5 cent coffee.
Today I learned the Cuban slang word "tota," pussy.
So far Cuba is making me both appreciate and disappreciate America… the American people are often loud and boorish, but they're effective workers and inventors… They've made microwaves, airplanes, etc.