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Another day in Cuba

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 04/09/2019 - 12:43

The internet intermittently stops working. Most sites seem functional. Cuba seems to be censoring my website. My American bank is unreachable…

Cuba smells delicious… Coffee, roasting and smoky flavors, etc.

Today, bought some artisanal wines… one bottle each, made from papaya (fruta de bomba), guava (guyaba), and canistel, the latter a tropical fruit I've never heard of before…

There are tons of electric motorcycles in Havana… They seem low-power (which is fine to get around town), probably because of how expensive batteries are…

Cuba continues to grow on me… & to annoy me… maybe it depends on how much rum I've had… or guava wine…

I've met a few kind Cubans who have made me much happier… For the most part, Cubans do not seem interested in tourists such as myself, which is understandable. I think also that Cubans seem to have a somewhat barbed disposition. I suppose it's just something of a mismatch between me & the local culture. However, I do find much to appreciate.

I appreciate the sense-oriented parts of the culture. There's tobacco in most places, gracing the air. The food is growing on me, there are numerous non-bland items. The cheese & meat have flavor. The beverages have flavor. There are numerous tropical fruits. I think that the flavorless items tend to be some of the staples, & some of the local variants of international foods. Maybe it just takes some trying to understand the local culture. This is different for me in part because I did not have much exposure to Cuban culture outside of Cuba until recently (in Florida). By contrast, Traveling through the United States & Mexico, I already had considerable (often false) preconceptions.

Today I went to the capitolio (capitol), by accident. Over the last few days I've gone by most of the major national museums. Not really my thing. I appreciate the architecture, & the historical/cultural significance. I consider it a somewhat important part of visiting a country to understand its larger social context. However, I often prefer to see how most of the local act in common situations, rather than the formal signs of a country.

For me, visiting a country is an opportunity to feel a new culture, a new style of going through with things. I like to try the activities that people do, eat the local food, listen to the local music, hang out. To me, that's more interesting than visiting a museum showing the historically important artifacts. Not that I oppose that, I think that different people have their own ways of seeing a country. For me, I prefer to walk among random streets, meet random people, and get to know what a country is like today (& where it's heading tomorrow), instead of seeing presentations about where it has been. I do also like to do some background reading, before or after, to put my travels in context.

One thing I like about traveling is the chance to be deferential… In one's own country, at least in North America, acting deferentially seems weak, and people often try to take advantage. While visiting, however, you have not much knowledge of the local culture. Some visitors, such as short-term ones, often act "normally" i.e. arrogantly, inadvertently offending locals while missing out on interesting things. Maybe it's just part of who I am, but I like the chance to pay attention to how other people do things. Often I prefer the "foreign" way, which really isn't foreign for some people. It also makes for a convenient meeting point, so I find it easier to have random conversations in other countries, or with people visiting wherever I happen to call home.

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