Oh, Yeah! Cuba (The Second-to-Last Part)

 

Whoops! I started the draft for my last post of Cuba at least a month ago, but I took so many photographs there (and liked them so much) that cutting away at the pictures was a serious task. I did my best, but even so, I’ll have to break the time my family spent in Sanctus Spiritus in half. Below are photographs of the road to, and city of, Trinidad; among Cuba’s loveliest locales.

The Road to….

La Ciudad de Trinidad:

This is the only photograph I have of the woman above. In the very brief time I spent around her, she epitomized gracefulness in a way that a young American today is unlikely to encounter. She was the hired help at the very stylish apartments we stayed in, and she took care of all of our needs. When we were about to depart, my older sister (who speaks passable Spanish) informed her that we had put together a small gift basket of goods that are ordinary to us Americans, but precious to the average Cuban – soap, shampoo, makeup (these are the top commodity there), along with some treats and a tip. The woman’s eyes were immediately shot with terror. She did her best to explain that the very congenial man who owned the lovely place we were staying at would not allow her to keep these gifts if he were aware of them.

I’m not sure that there was a single event that informed us of how foreign this world was to us. This man, who was almost certainly well-connected, and likely enjoyed the kind of intimate relationship with the Communists that reigned in privileges and wealth was clearly more complicated than we had been led to believe. While I can live with the fact that every system has its prejudices and special favors, I hadn’t encountered anything quite so corrupt as what this woman was subjected to.

Thankfully, my sister could communicate, got the message, and figured out how to arrange that these meager offerings were delivered to the person who deserved them.

I really loved the colors of this country. This is one of the few areas where I’ll concede that the Cubans have us beat.

Yes! That is a Hello Kitty bike caught in all the rubble. (It was among the creepiest things I encountered.)

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  1. Al French, poor excuse for a p… Moderator
    Al French, poor excuse for a p…
    @AlFrench


    55 Pontiac. My parents had one when I was a kid. Almost the same color.

     

    • #1
  2. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Al French, poor excuse for a p… (View Comment):


    55 Pontiac. My parents had one when I was a kid. Almost the same color.

     

    Beautiful car! (That part also made me nostalgic – and I wasn’t even alive for those vehicles.)

    • #2
  3. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    You have some really beautiful photos. As a tourist, do you believe you were able to see how people really live, or were you subject only to the show (with the exception of the underlying fear of the young woman)?

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Another fine photo essay you’ve gotten us into.

    • #4
  5. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Juliana (View Comment):

    You have some really beautiful photos. As a tourist, do you believe you were able to see how people really live, or were you subject only to the show (with the exception of the underlying fear of the young woman)?

    I think we got a taste, but I got the sense that the trip would have been pretty unpleasant if it had been entirely authentic. This is why I took so many photographs, but I avoided taking any in people’s homes – with one noteworthy exception that I’ll show in the next part. (I was told beforehand that it was okay.) In general though, I did my best to not overly emphasize the poverty or squalor, the country is quite beautiful after all.

    A couple of things I noticed: I think to ride in a car is a real luxury in that country. The streets are filled with pedestrians. At every location we stayed the air conditioning was blasted, but, as I understand it, Cubans don’t actually have them – they just know that, relatively, we expect the air to be much cooler. 

    Also, we got to visit the home of our guide – the location was gorgeous, but the home itself would have struck any American as abject poverty. I’ll cover this in more detail for the final chapter, but there was a young woman who took us on a hike that day, and she joined us to the main guide’s home. I can recall her wide eyes as we walked through the sparse house, which had a mediocre stereo, some decent furniture, and a handful of appliances. She looked at my older sister and I, and exclaimed “this is money!”

    In Havana, every home we passed had the doors open, and these spectacular apartments might have had a television and a couch, that was about it. The most surprising site during the whole trip was passing by an open home wherein an old woman sat with a blank expression, smoking a cigarette, next to a large pile of ruble. I surmised that, at some point, a plumbing emergency forced the floor to be ripped out, and nobody ever came back to fix it.

    To add some context, I’ve spent a number of years in New Orleans. I think my tolerance for quasi-third worldly sites is pretty high. Even with the luxuries enjoyed, Cuba expanded my pallet significantly.

    Here are my earlier posts, if you’re interested: 

    Part 1

    Part 2 

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Thanks for checking this out!

    • #5
  6. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Another fine photo essay you’ve gotten us into.

    Gracias! 

    • #6
  7. Hugh Member
    Hugh
    @Hugh

    very nice

    • #7
  8. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Al French, poor excuse for a p… (View Comment):


    55 Pontiac. My parents had one when I was a kid. Almost the same color.

     

    A 55 Pontiac Star Chief hardtop 2 door sedan was my first car. It’s funny I was thinking about it this morning before I got out of bed. It was a bronze and white color. Matching real leather seats. I drove it to the junkyard with over 300,000 miles. I was equating it’s mechanical problems with ones body getting older. You keep doing the maintenance but sooner than later you need new parts. At some point the parts are worth more than the car. You also need a good mechanic (doctor) to keep it running.

    • #8
  9. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Were these pictures taken .. eh .. legally?

    • #9
  10. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    JimGoneWild (View Comment):

    Were these pictures taken .. eh .. legally?

    Oh yes!

    I heard somewhere that if you visited the Soviet Union, you be sure to notice some KGB following you – they would make no attempt to hide themselves. But it wasn’t because they cared what westerners were up to, just to make sure that Soviet citizens didn’t approach.

    This trip was about 8 months after Trump’s election, so other than my normal attempts to avoid breaking the law, I felt pretty comfortable that if any Communists tried anything funny, our President would… you know… have our backs. (I was the only person in the trip that voted for him though.)

    Also, our guide obtained a law degree in England and seemed confident that he could speak pretty freely. The government seems to be in a state of sclerosis, but, oddly enough, older Cubans seem more concerned about maintaining their culture – it’s the youngsters who really want America to open up.

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Extraordinary pictures – and they are all beautiful, even the poverty. I mean that it is the reality for many people and they try to make it work – the resilient spirit. Your story of the woman in the hotel of amazing. Just ninety minutes off our coast and its a different world. I can’t believe the communists are still like that. I loved the old church with the bell and the blue alley way with the bongo drums – had you ever heard the story of Ricky Ricardo? His family was very wealthy, his dad was a mayor. They fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and when they got to America, lived in an old warehouse. They had a very strong work ethic and he was the driven one behind the success of the sitcom and bringing entertainment to the masses.  I read it in a book that Glenn Beck wrote that highlighted extraordinary people (good and bad).

    Your stories and pictures would make a great book. I hope you will do another post. Thank you! 

    • #11
  12. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Extraordinary pictures – and they are all beautiful, even the poverty. I mean that it is the reality for many people and they try to make it work – the resilient spirit. Your story of the woman in the hotel of amazing. Just ninety minutes off our coast and its a different world. I can’t believe the communists are still like that. I loved the old church with the bell and the blue alley way with the bongo drums – had you ever heard the story of Ricky Ricardo? His family was very wealthy, his dad was a mayor. They fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and when they got to America, lived in an old warehouse. They had a very strong work ethic and he was the driven one behind the success of the sitcom and bringing entertainment to the masses. I read it in a book that Glenn Beck wrote that highlighted extraordinary people (good and bad).

    Your stories and pictures would make a great book. I hope you will do another post. Thank you!

    Thanks for the reminder. I started the last one – I think I’ve got it saved. I’ll get it finished ASAP. 

    • #12
  13. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Extraordinary pictures – and they are all beautiful, even the poverty. I mean that it is the reality for many people and they try to make it work – the resilient spirit. Your story of the woman in the hotel of amazing. Just ninety minutes off our coast and its a different world. I can’t believe the communists are still like that. I loved the old church with the bell and the blue alley way with the bongo drums – had you ever heard the story of Ricky Ricardo? His family was very wealthy, his dad was a mayor. They fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and when they got to America, lived in an old warehouse. They had a very strong work ethic and he was the driven one behind the success of the sitcom and bringing entertainment to the masses. I read it in a book that Glenn Beck wrote that highlighted extraordinary people (good and bad).

    Your stories and pictures would make a great book. I hope you will do another post. Thank you!

    Thanks for the reminder. I started the last one – I think I’ve got it saved. I’ll get it finished ASAP.

    @samuelblock  – Have you seen the you tube video that bl@ponyconvertible posted on the member feed?

    • #13
  14. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Extraordinary pictures – and they are all beautiful, even the poverty. I mean that it is the reality for many people and they try to make it work – the resilient spirit. Your story of the woman in the hotel of amazing. Just ninety minutes off our coast and its a different world. I can’t believe the communists are still like that. I loved the old church with the bell and the blue alley way with the bongo drums – had you ever heard the story of Ricky Ricardo? His family was very wealthy, his dad was a mayor. They fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and when they got to America, lived in an old warehouse. They had a very strong work ethic and he was the driven one behind the success of the sitcom and bringing entertainment to the masses. I read it in a book that Glenn Beck wrote that highlighted extraordinary people (good and bad).

    Your stories and pictures would make a great book. I hope you will do another post. Thank you!

    Thanks for the reminder. I started the last one – I think I’ve got it saved. I’ll get it finished ASAP.

    @samuelblock – Have you seen the you tube video that bl@ponyconvertible posted on the member feed?

    I haven’t seen the vid yet, but I’ve got the page saved. I’ll check it out before I put my last post together and mention it. 

    • #14
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