I'm now starting to feel more comfortable with the Cuban culture, language, & people. The accent is still often hard for me to understand, & I don't think I can readily imitate it, although I'm now significantly better at speaking in such a way that Cubans understand me. Cubans seems to use the letters "C" and "G" a lot. The speech seems slurred, I think they pronounce fewer consonants than in other accents. (In Spanish, it's not as important to pronounce every syllable as it is in English.) The intonation is different than other accents, and I still haven't learned it fully.
The city is so walkable, it's such a pleasure to go outside. One can walk for miles, seeing beautiful (shade-giving) architecture. Vendors sell food and other goods in the streets (although it's a pain to find certain goods). The weather is generally nice, the people generally friendly. It's the opposite of walking in a large American city, where you can go blocks/miles without seeing anyone, there are no street vendors, people just walk about unhappily, but when you find a store you can buy anything you want (for a large price). It's more fun to be in Cuba, it's more productive to be in the US.
The pharmacies still seem to sell primarily herbal remedies. I think it's part of the country still being basically agricultural with some industry, rather than a more developed country.
My feet are killing me!!!
I said to myself I'd stay in today, to rest my feet, or at most go out for a short bit. Woke up early, at around four AM. Decided to walk to the sea to watch the sunrise!
Later walked around for a while. Havana has block after block of beautiful buildings. The city thrives with people out at almost all hours of the day, at almost all parts of the city. Makes it fun to walk, but hard to find some peace & quiet.
The days are hot & humid, often best just to stay in the shade. The nights are cool.
Had some more local food today… More delicious, now that I'm figuring out some of the different shops & restaurants. Bought some "bijol" spice. Also, finally bought an internet wifi card. It's $1 per hour. Later in the day, I found possibly the only bottle of sunblock in Cuba!
Kept walking. After seeing tons of the city streets, decided on a side road. It went through the countryside, just outside of Havana! Tons of banana trees! Horses!
After covering a significant chunk of the country road, I got to a barbed wire fence. Preferring to chance it, I snuck under. A short while later, another barbed wire fence. In for a penny, in for a pound. After ducking under a few barbed wire fences, I got to one next to a building with people hanging around. They asked me what I was doing there. Sheepishly, I asked if I was heading towards the city. They kindly let me through.
Walking back into the outskirts of the city, I was extremely thirsty from the long walking in the sun, the difficulty I had in getting enough to drink. A street vendor had a giant bottle of a dark drink. I bought it for one peso (five cents US). Unsure if I would survive, I decided to drink a small amount then, despite my large thirst. I did survive, sort of. Later on, I had to go to the bathroom. By this time, I was hobbling around with a plastic bag holding my broken sandal on my wounded feet, walking with a stick.
As such, people were reluctant to let me use their bathroom. I was looking around for a quiet hidden spot by the railroad tracks, not finding any, when a local asked me what I was looking for in rough, hard-to-understand Cuban. I explained, and he pointed to the empty structure of a building, where I was about to go. I was attacked by diarrhea, as a crowd of Cubans stood around watching. The lad explained that he thought I was just going to pee. Hurrying up before I was finished, I thanked them and walked away. They kept after me, trying to help me find my way back, since I probably looked like a lost hobo. (I haven't seen hobos around Cuba.) I thanked them again but declined, preferring to walk the rest of the way back and soak up some more of the night life, on my first Saturday night in the city, despite feeling like shit (literally).
Cuba seems like a safe country. I generally don't feel threatened by police, military, criminals, stray dogs, or other dangers of some countries. Partly it may be due to Cuba being an island nation. Also, I don't see nearly as many police on the streets as in the US or Mexico. Maybe just because Cuba has fewer resources. So far some of the few, moderate dangers I've felt have included people possibly trying to take advantage of my initial ignorance of the country/currency/etc., which I'm not sure was the case; falling or slipping in the questionably maintained streets & sidewalks; …
I'm not sure that it's fair to call Cuba a communist (or socialist) country. I see way more people selling goods than in the USA! I think it's something like a combination of Latin cameraderie, and Cuban poverty, making communism an approximate match, but that it's just a label and not that descriptive of the facts on the ground.
So many more observations, thoughts, etc., although many as I've been in a rush to get water, food, bathroom, etc., not having stopped to write.
I'm getting to like the country more, it's growing on me. At first I was curious, and liked it moderately. I still have some qualms, although now I've seen more of the positive side. The people seem generally decent, despite facing hardships.
Getting back to the apartment, I've had like a gallon of water (I've heard that you can drink the tap water safely, not sure if that's true.) Also, some leftover food, & rum.
Shopping today, I learned that there's a shorter version of the common phrase "no hay" (there isn't any): "no." I lost count of how many times people told me "no" today. Cubans are not warm like Mexicans, & Cubans don't eat spicy food like Mexicans do.
The people in Cuba eat tons of fruit & sweet foods & drinks. Despite the general shortages, you can find plentiful sugar, alcohol, coffee, & tobacco. Like in other countries (hola, USA), it's easy to get fucked up!
It's now midnight, & I'm wrapping up writing, about to shower (finally!), etc. Long days, so much to see!!! :)