Saturday, 24 July 2010

Goodbye to Cuba

So, we have finally managed to get out of Cuba - the chaos of Havana airport can’t even be imagined! This is where 3rd world communist regime meets 1st world capitalist tourist industry - and it doesn’t work. It took more than 3 hours just to check everyone in for the flight (yes, we queued!!!) which - if it had been on time - would have left before everyone got through security and passport control. (They photograph you going out was well as coming in.) The flight finally took off 2hrs and 20mins late and many, like Neil, missed their connections at the other end.

There are a lot of images that have stayed with me. The poverty has made a big impression, as well as the amount of control exercised by the state over the Cuban people. This, of course, is the reason why Art and Literature only flourish underground - freedom of thought and expression are disallowed. Every street has its policeman sitting on the corner twenty four hours a day, and every street has its government representative to keep an eye on the residents and make sure they conform. Political dissidents go to jail.  What impresses me most of all, is the friendliness and good humour of the Cuban people - I’m not sure I could be so cheerful and welcoming in those circumstances.

These are a few of the images I’ve brought back.

In Havana a lot of people have erected shacks on the roofs of buildings. This man had pigeons in a cage.



Public transport in Trinidad - this is how the locals go to work. Taxis are only for tourists.



St Francis of Assisi - one of the most beautiful churches in Havana.



Dereliction - the other face of Cuba.



The image of Chez Guevara is everywhere - here it’s aptly juxtaposed with a police car.



Sunset over the sea from the old fort in Havana.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Kathleen,
    I love these photos as poignant as they are. I've never been to Cuba but I used to teach English to Cuban immigrants. They told me so many stories I could have written a book about their tales. I admire their resilient spirit and drive to succeed in their new country. Thanks for sharing your story. Cheers!
    Claudia
    www.claudiadelbalso.blogspot.com

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  2. Thanks Claudia - I too loved the Cuban people - I met some really interesting individuals - their spirit of survival is amazing.

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  3. Gorgeous photos.
    Cuba is such a strange mix, a health system that is free an available to all, one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
    And oppression and poverty.

    We humans are never capable of getting it quite right.

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  4. I feel a bit like you Al. But I'm not giving up on the human race just yet - I'm relying on our children to get us out of the mess!

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  5. Kathleen - am just catching up with your fascinating Cuba posts after returning from my own (domestic) travels. I think we were both away at the same time, otherwise I would definitely have come and say hello. Next time, hopefully!

    I know parts of Latin America well (Peru, Bolivia, Colombia) but not central America, nor Cuba, so it's interesting to compare. An extraordinary country, so many contrasts.

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  6. Apologies for garbled grammar in previous post!

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  7. The Cuban government teaches cubans to read and write, but they cannot read, they cannot write. They are not allowed to spea either. Cuba has a wonderful medical system: to fereigners only who pay in dollars. Those who have dollars eat, drink and have a life. Those who doeesn't... well, go to see for yourself before the unbelievable island ends.

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