Cuba: The Pedestrian's Diaries

Notes from behind the Coffee Curtain

Problog: We came, we saw, we walked

December 27, OTTAWA — I guess Cuba is best known for its fleet of ancient Detroit automobiles and its magnificent beaches, but for me it is geopolitics that first comes to mind: Cuba as Washington's bête noire since 1960, when the United States started training and financing Cuban exiles for an invasion of Fidel Castro's revolutionary government, which had committed the ultimate crime: nationalizing American property, thus disobeying the most important law of the Imperium.

That Castro's Cuba has continued to disobey Washington and to survive — despite a U.S. trade embargo now in its 65th year; despite an invasion; despite numerous attempts to assassinate Castro himself — is almost a miracle. That the country also survived the disappearance of the Soviet Union and that country's supply of cheap oil and the petrochemical fertilizers that had powered its "modern" agricultural industry is even more so.

A billboard reads, "Fight against the impossible and win". Detail of image by JIM via Wikipedia.

But survive it did, and now that Havana and Washington have re-established diplomatic relations, there is talk of direct air-travel between the two countries again and — who knows? — there may even be an end to the trade embargo one of these days.

Cuba's long isolation from its giant neighbour seems to be coming to an end. And so it was that, when my partner and I decided to visit Cuba, our decision was based in part on a desire to see that country as it is now, before it is once more in close contact with the most powerful country in the world.

And so we we saw lots of old cars, but had only a brief encounter with the beaches.

Most of our time was spent in two cities, ancient Santa Clara and bustling Havana; and most of our days were spent walking, exploring the cities with only vague goals in mind. What follows is a series of snapshots, notes on what we observed and thought (along with a whole bunch of pictures) as we skimmed the surface of some small sections of a country that is very, very different from our own.

We spent nine nights there, during which I wrote a nightly diary, or journal. This series presents those entries (more or less) as they were originally written: immediate impressions, with minimal editing and the insertion of a few appropriate links. Only the very first entry was composed entirely post-return; but somehow after-the-fact seems the best place to start.

Click here for Security theatre of the absurd.

Index of Entries:


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Your Cuba Report

Very nice descriptions of your experience. Looking forward to the others.


I'm pleased your enjoying them. Today's entry will be a day late, but I will keep them coming!

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