Away from the resorts you can't help but think that time has somehow stood still in this country. Foreign goods are rare and internet use is scarce and very expensive. Before attempting to use it at the hotel we were warned that it would take a long time to download a simple web page. And they weren't kidding. It cost around $12 an hour and after spending 10 minutes trying to log into my email I decided that maybe this was for the best. I was on vacation and if I couldn't handle a week without the internet, then what was the point of it anyway. I relaxed instead and soaked up the sun for an entire week. I'm still white like a Caucasian cabbage but I think I left with a soft and gentle glow.
I already miss the old Chevys and Ladas and Fiats that are ubiquitous on the roads in Cuba. They give this country such an unusual and Old World presence. It's just hard to imagine that these cars from the 50's and 60's are still going strong.
My only regret is not going to Havana but knowing that there are direct flights from the city where I live lasting only about three hours, I know that I will be going back again. Once you're here, everything is very affordable, high-end cigars will cost you around $10 and even their rum is really reasonable. I only wish they had more variety but being a communist country it is hardly surprising.
This lovely bird followed me around for about an hour but when I offered it some Doritos it abandoned me at last and ran away forever. I guess even the animals here have an aversion to anything American. Just kidding.
What you'll notice most of all is the people who are always warm and friendly and eager to talk to you. I think it must be the weather because when you factor in that most Cubans barely make $25 a month you can't help but wonder what their secret is. I stumbled upon this fisherman during my many walks on the beach.
Of course, a post about Cuba wouldn't be complete without some mention of Fidel Castro. I asked around hoping to get a glimpse of this man but no luck. I know, wishful thinking on my part. But I did manage to pick up a post card of Fidel playing baseball in his youthful days. I have to say he looks rather cute. I'm not sure if that's a zero on his hat or he was just anticipating O magazine. All I can tell you is that I left Oprah in Cuba (or at least her magazine) and she was quickly snapped up, by who I will never know.
After this post, I hope they still let me in into this country. I know they're not very fond of journalists but I'm a blogger, so that's different. But just so you know, everyone who arrives in Cuba is photographed at customs. After your picture is taken it is then stored on their system, forever and ever. Why that is, I don't know, but I suppose just like with the internet use, everyone here is carefully monitored. Upon your departure you will pay a tax of 25 pesos without so much as a stamp on your passport suggesting you were even here.