With Fidel becoming older and older the time to see and experience Cuba as it is today is slowly but surely running out. I believe that this is the last chance to see the real Cuba before it will change. At the same time somebody told me the other day that to see the real Cuba one would have had to travel there in the 1950s.
Obviously I do not have that possibility but I can make the most of the current situation and maybe revisit the country in another 50 years to compare. So this is why for the last two years I wanted to go to Cuba really bad.
We found ourselves on a plane to Varadero, which I am sorry to say is probably anything BUT Cuba. It’s as artificial as Disneyland, it’s an illusion for All-Inclusive-tourists who believe a day trip to Havana during 14 gluttonous days of non-stop booze and 24 hour food supply will be enough to see and understand Cuba. I am not sure if it is pity or contempt I feel for these people.
Anyway, we arrived in this Cuban outpost and pretty much got bored of it very soon. In addition the beach could not fulfil the (probably too high) expectations I had. Everywhere you go you hear how beautiful the beach in Varadero is but it didn’t strike me as being very exceptional. Although I have to mention that I never had the ocean that close to my hotel window. Go to Cayo Largo if you want to see a fantastic beach. It’s not far if you don’t mind Russian propeller planes from the late 60s.
After three (obligatory) nights we took the bus to La Habana and started to discover Cuba from here. At first the Ciudad de la Habana – a true colonial beauty in desperate need of major refurbishment – seems to offer only three things: casas particulares, rum and cigars. Over the course of our trip, which brought us insights into both urban and rural family life, liberty and suppression, poverty and surplus, we found out that obviously there is far more than that. It’s the huge discrepancies that strike you but also the people’s creativity when it comes to coping with their situations due to the lack of certain items and resources.
I think I was simply too naïve before going to Cuba, thinking everything would be idyllic and romantic but when you are there you are constantly reminded of the fact that this country has suffered from a communist government over the last 4 ½ decades.
And then there is the omnipresent adoration and worship of a long gone hero, soldier and martyr: El Comandante Che Guevara, whose famous shot by Alberto Korda is omnipresent on numerous houses and walls in so many variations.
And the whole scene, which at first appears so idyllic, is directed by a former lawyer who once had a dream of a better world, recruited a handful of men and spread la revolución over the entire island. The líder general who still believes that this better world is possible and who keeps fighting the capitalist empire off the island’s shores so proudly, although with fading strength.
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