Hot, beautiful, and incredible
Last time I had arrive on this amazing beautiful Island. I’m not going to have a political discussion, only discuss what it is like on the ground. One thing that suprised me was how much the tourist infrastructure has grown up out of nothing. People open there homes for you to stay in. It’s a way of bringing currency into the household. Real currency. Cuba has the this crazy two currency system. One is the local’s only currency which really is only usable in government stores, and side of the road small eateries. The second is the tourist currency which is fixed at the US dollar. With a 3% coversion rate, except for US cash which is 13% coversion rate.
Yes it sounds confusing. But in simple terms, most people want you to use the tourist currency called CUC to pay for everything.
Today was our first real look at Havana, with a walking tour, before we got on our way to visit the rest of the Island. Like most colonial cities, there is the old town, which is pretty much spanish colonial design, and the rest, which is brutalistic soviet style apartments and buildings. Other than the beach areas, which is pre-revolition US style. You would be confused that you aren’t in Southern California by the way it looks.
The one thing that was surprising was, depsite the influx of tourism, its not something that comes naturally to the Cubans. As such you don’t get harassed in the same way. They generally ask you politely, and then when you say no thanks they leave you alone. It was very refreshing. (Note: I’m not sure if it is still like this, this was my experience a few years ago)
The second suprising thing was, we were warned to expect a lot of rice, and beans. The basic staples of Cuba. It was far from the case. The food we had was a amazing, and yes there was rice, and beans, but the multitude of high grade organic food stuffs were everywhere. They couldn’t afford the pesticides so organic was the only way. With a bunch of tricks to help them along the way.
Around Havana this is also a lot of street art. As we were walking through the main square, there was a statement that caught my ear. “Hang on, is that a naked woman, on a rooster, carrying a fork?”. Well yes it was. Had us all smiling.