Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My feet on the beach in Veradero

My feet on a Havana street

Yes, these are cars on the roof garden of a building!

The veranda of a pretty little house in Varadero

Restored building (right) in Havana. The building on the left is waiting it's turn for restoration to return it to it's original splendor

Ahhhhh Cuba....

The holiday is becoming a distant memory but I won't forget the beautiful, friendly, and happy people of this Island, rich in history and natural beauty, and I know I will return.

The most incredible thing I noticed in Cuba and in Havana on a busy Saturday afternoon, was the feeling of safety. In fact one is safer in Havana than in Toronto, I'm almost sure of this; Cuba having very little crime and petty crime for the most part. The section of police that are present in the city, do not carry guns...but billy sticks.
No one talks politics of course but everyone comments on the improvements to their lives and lifestyle over the past few decades. Everyone, we are told, has a "dwelling" provided by the Government and everyone, whether you work or not, receives a certain sum of money for food and necessities. I am sure this is a small amount but I never saw homeless, hungry people, and only a few little (children) beggars at the market. Our guide told us these children do this (begging) for a lark and also to provide some extra income, but these children do go off to school (free) in their bright and spotless uniforms during the school week. Although the monthly income amount seemed very low to us, there wasn't that huge, humbling and enormous difference between educated people - i.e. doctors, nurses, teachers, skilled labourers. Education is free to everyone and anyone right to the end of University. How many North Americans cannot afford to send their children to college or university? Too many I'm afraid.

Old Havana is breathtaking and the renovation of the buildings is a positive move; there is so much to preserve in this old city. At one point I stopped in one of the many very narrow cobbled streets and I had two thoughts, I felt like I was in a film set, everything looked so authentic to the period of the structures...and two, I felt like I was in Barcelona again (I was there briefly 35 years ago).

Some other (positive) thoughts I had about Havana and the part of Cuba I one was plugged into cell phones or communication devices; in fact I don't think I saw anyone with a cell phone - very refreshing. There was no litter destroying the look of the city or along the highway into Havana. Cubans are very proud of their country and they should be.
In the resort area of Varadero, I got the impression that Cuba has an attitude of "this is us, take us as we are" and for that I admire them. It would seem the Government takes care of their people first and the tourists second (the biggest source of income)...I did not see the profound poverty one sees on other islands and then the tourist is transported to 4 and 5* luxury resorts. Not so here...the resorts are clean, comfortable, maybe in need of a little decorating and updating, fresh food is offered, but no means gourmet and best off all Cuba is an affordable holiday. I hope Cuba does not ever change it's way for the tourists.

Sunday, March 08, 2009