Travel to Cuba
An American Woman's Photos & Impressions of Havana

One of the most interesting places I've visited: Cuba. I spent a weekend in Havana in March (2001) with four friends. One of them is a Cuban American, so we had the good fortune to spend time with his family and friends in their home and get at least a little sense of what it's like to live in Cuba today.

My impressions, however, are mine alone, and not those of the lovely people I met. Nor can I be absolutely certain that some of what I have stated as facts are accurate; I might have misunderstood what I was told.

I was surprised to be told, for example, that medical doctors earn the equivalent of $25 a month. The good news is there are many physicians -- about 1 for every 75 citizens. If you want to make a decent salary in Cuba, you are better off joining the police or security forces or, better yet, get on the staff of a tourist hotel where you will receive U$ dollars -- apparently the true currency of Cuba. Dollars make all the difference. For example, on a typical Sunday afternoon a family might visit Copelli Park. It is an all day outing to get an ice cream. With dollars in your pocket, you can get an ice cream right away a couple of scoops for $3-4 however, if you are paying in pesos, you will wait an hour or two in a long line.

The city of Havana was clearly incredibly beautiful in 1959 as the architecture reflects. Most of the buildings in Old Havana (the main tourist area) have been restored.


Click on any image for larger view


Capitanes Generales Square

.........
Today, most of the buildings
outside Old Havana are in various
stages of disrepair, but much of
their grandeur remains.

Click on images for larger view.
I liked the juxtapositon of this old American car with an elegant, if somewhat dilapidated, edifice. This was right next to our hotel. There are, as you may know, lots of old American cars on the streets of Havana. One taxi driver claimed it's evidence the best mechanics in the world are in Cuba. I was more interested to hear that there are fewer cars on Havana streets today than there were in 1959. No more than 15% of Cubans (if that) own cars, I was told the rest wait (and wait) for unreliable public transport.


Can you believe it: there are fewer cars
on Havana streets today than in 1959!
At least, that's what they tell me!

Today's "newer" cars tend to be Russian-made, such as Gonzalo's 1974 Lada ... we drove out to Parque Lenin for lunch on Sunday.

View of the Malecon
from the Hotel Nacionale

The Nacional Hotel


Interested in links to more Cuban sights and sites? Check out these:
  • A comprehensive resource on Cuba from the Univ. of Texas: http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/ca/cuba/
  • A collection of vintage postcards of Cuba.
  • Want to see Cuba, too? Try USA Cuba Travel Agency.
  • If you know of a website you feel would be of interest, please

     



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