My first Impression of Cuba
Cuba was on my Bucket-list for a long time so I was super excited to visit this “different world”. Before telling you more about my first impression I want to say, NO Cuba is not stuck in time. In fact the country is changing a lot. I heard the common expression, “we have to go to Cuba before it changes and gets ruined,” or something along those lines. To that I think, change is inevitable and whatever change comes to Cuba shouldn’t be seen as “ruining” the country. Cuba has struggled a lot, so it has the right to forge a different future.
The People and Culture
La Havana proved to be a world of itself. It was so full of life, colour, and traditions I didn’t expect to see right away. The Cuban character, and I believe it is one of the reasons why crime is not that high in the country. We got the chance to talk to a few natives about their everyday life, which can be really frightening. For instant that no-one can leave the country except you get an invitation from someone outside from Cuba, that further has to be accepted by the government. And can be rejected by no reason, no matter if you have the money to travel or not. The other way around, if you are not Cuban you are not able buy a house or land, or not even life or stay in the country for a long period of time. Education and Healthcare is free for Cubans, that’s why you as a tourist have to take a assurance before entering the country. I also learned more about the Cuban way of life, everyone is treating each other the same way. Poor or rich does not exist. But it is still hard to keep up with the change the country takes at the moment, for example the food problem. Super markets do not exist and restaurants are too expensive. So you have to get the essentials like rice, beans and vegetables from private markets. Cuban families get a “rations coupons book” that provides them a certain amount of food for the whole family for a month. They still need to buy it, but the entire month’s worth of food will cost them no more than $1. This amount of food is not enough to eat well, but enough to not starve. If you work for the state, the minimum salary is around $20 and doctors earn around $35 a month! So thats why a lot of Cubans try to earn money from there own business, like as taxi driver or hosts. But I also made some bad experience with the Cuban people. Especially in the tourist places a lot of people not really begged but asked for money all the time. When you were taking pictures of them or of their vintage cars. They didn’t get upset if you hadn't any change with you, but it made me feel bad if I haven't gave something. That was really annoying because they didn’t made any effort and I noticed, most people gather in front of their houses and sit on the sidewalk to talk to their neighbours or friends instead of going to find some better work. I think the tourists are just more easy money for them.
Unlike most countries, there are no commercial signs on the side of the road in Cuba. They are all political messages, socialist encouragement, criticisms to the embargo, and images of key political figures like Fidel Castro, Ché Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos.
The smell of smog floated all around the city – a negative effect of the old engines of the mostly American Vintage Cars from the ‘50s. These cars still remain from the economic embargo from the US in the ‘60s and because it was very difficult and expensive to import from other countries, such as from the former soviet union, very few new cars arrived to the island for more than 50 years. So the Cuba streets are literally a rolling car museum.
Here a few impressions of the Capital. My travel diary will be up later this week!