The first ferries will soon be going from Florida to Havana after 50 years of silent treatment. It was announced right before this Christmas that Obama and Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, were willing to start resolving their historic issues.
However, you will not be wondering if that stranded on the beach is a whale or an American yet as they are not allowed to travel simply for tourism purposes.
They can only jump on the boat if they have relatives there or are going for education or religious purposes, guided through a busy schedule from the early hours till bedtime.
So, what many people who loves the country for its unique identity feared will not be happening any time soon, even though these strict regulations will probably loosen up over time depending on what will happen when the Castro brothers are gone.
Obama’s reaching hand was inevitable. The way the two nations has dealt with their complicated history is out-of-date and lead to no good. The 50-year long embargo has been tough on the Cuban economy without the pockets of the rich Americans that used to come to the Havana for sex, drugs and alcohol. On top of that the revolution’s communism ideals has taken away all personal wealth, basically making their own people, who could not afford it, fund the government’s spending. The shops often run out of basic food, and a jug of milk can quickly cost two month’s salary. The censorship and propaganda is everywhere you go and is rarely challenged as it is hidden from the rest of the world. Anyone trying to speak up may quickly be arrested.
When you wander through Havana’s streets, you realise that the pictures or restaurants, gas stations and cars you have seen in the travel books are as true to the day as it was 50 years ago.
Astonishing buildings once comparable to London’s Regent Street has become a ghost of a glory past. Hollow, black windows takes you into nothing but collapsed rooms covered with black dirt and old tiles, sacrificed for the country’s free education and health service. The only places that are modern and maintained are famous, international hotels and Hemingway’s favourite places, like El Floridita where the daiquiri was invented.
It makes you sad to see a capital in this state when it has the potential to be the most beautiful capital in the world. But, the old of the city has its charm. It goes along with the colourful cars which has to be restarted at least 2 times during a five minute cab ride.
There are no Starbuck’s, MacDonal’s or H&M. Everything is Cuban (mainly because it is a communist country) but it is their own, made by the people for the people.
Cuba has many issues, but the lack of industrial beasts is not one of them. Those who have experienced this place untouched are lucky, because it might not last for long. The cigar-loving people are stubborn so they will not sell their soul for nothing. However, many are hoping for political change with stronger human rights in addition to a stronger economy and they believe opening up for the Americans might be a step in the right direction.