How do you explain what is Cuba in words and pictures? It is something that has to be experienced, but I will do what I can.
We landed in the airport, not the newest and most modern airport but a perfectly good and functional airport. It was recommended that we bring Eros to avoid the 13% exchange fees of dollars, and go upstairs to avoid the huge line at the money exchange. Upstairs they were only selling euros though, not buying them so downstairs to the long line we went.
After a while I asked one of the taxi guys recruiting passengers if we could pay in euros. Sure, 30 euros to Havana Central, a fair price so off we went in a comfortable modern yellow cab through Cuban countryside and soon, through the city to our destination. When we pulled up our hostess was waiting outside as promised to welcome us and show us to our room.
Our hosts were wonderful, friendly, helpful, really good people. I felt somewhat guilty though. It’s a small two bedroom apartment and the four of them are in a small bedroom on bunk beds while we have a spacious bedroom and balcony overlooking the city. But, they made the guest room as their business. He used to work at a government job but says he doing much better working privately, and that is what gave them the money to fix up the apartment.
We settled in a bit and then went walking to see some of the city. There isn’t a lot of traffic for a big city, but a lot of the cars on the road are the antique cars, most looking shiny and beautiful. If you want to take pictures of cars you could totally fill your camera in a short time because there are so many of them everywhere!
The buildings are in all states of repair or disrepair. Some are gorgeous, elegant, and just beautiful. Others are also beautiful but showing many years of neglect, and some are literally falling apart. Many buildings are also in various stages of renovation. Space is expensive and many apartments are tiny. Many people leave their doors open so as we passed we could see into their apartments. Even where we are staying the space is small for a family (by our standards), and now even smaller since it has been remodeled to accommodate guests.
There is so much life in the street! There are people walking, vendors selling things, kids playing, men hanging out and socializing, and neighbors talking together. In the morning and especially in the evenings vendors come around, often with whistles shouting out what they have to sell. Our hostess said if you are on an upper floor you can lower down a basket or pail to complete your purchase.
We arrived in the afternoon so we had a little time to walk around before we turned in for the day. These are some pictures in the area of the Parque Central (Central Park). There is a bit of information on this park Here.
Of course Cuba is known for its classic cars. There are enough of them that it is hard to take a photo of a street scene without catching one, if not many of them.
And now the rest of the photos, just some random shots of things we saw in the area.
These were just a few photos and thoughts put together while having conversations with our host and hostess on our first evening. There is a lot more to come!