Cuba is the great dichotomy. It is both culturally rich and economically poor. Architecturally magnificent and visibly crumbling. The experience was educational, surprising and inspiring and I was staying present to it all. I had been hearing the call to go to Cuba for some time. I am not a "tour" person. I need to have the freedom to explore and change plans if they are not working, plus I get car sick in buses (most tours would be glad they don't have me). Cuba is still not easily accessible for Americans and this proved to be a monumental year to visit after Obama came just a few months earlier. Here are some of our highlights:
Dining in Havana at some of the new independent (not state owned) restaurants or paladares. The food was incredibly fresh and very reasonably priced. They all were perched on rooftops with views in the neighborhood of Vedado. This is one place in the world where there are no fast food chains, not even one McDonalds.
Many people had suggested we walk the streets of Havana and the Cuban experience will find you. Here are some of the magic moments in our 4 days:
Riding in the Old Cars
Visit the Hemingway bars for great music, mojitos and daiquiris.
Learn about the history
Hotel Nacional is like walking back in time. We stopped by for coffee and walked through the old bunkers the Russians had built in the cold war. Our visit lined up with Hollywood and we watched the filming of Fast and Furious. They had closed down roads during the week and brought in helicopters. The locals were fascinated and we enjoyed watching from the hilltop of the Hotel.
Most Cubans monthly salary is about $25. Cuba has a rationing system and these are the only stores non cubans are not permitted to shop. Every Cuban family registers with a local supply store, where they can use a libreta or ration book. The system establishes the rations each person is allowed to buy through that system, and the frequency. Every Cuban is allotted one loaf of bread per day and the standard ration distribution per month is approximately 6 pounds of rice, 20 ounces of beans, 6 pounds of sugar, 1 liter/day of milk, 12 eggs, and 15 pounds of potatoes.
Walk around Old Havana
Practice Yoga with a new growing community
We were honored to be able to practice with Eduardo Pimental in his friend's home where she moves the furniture aside to accomodate group yoga classes. It was so inspiring to be part of this growing community of yogis. Everyone greets each other with a kiss. I felt so welcomed.
Walk Along the Malecon
Drink Guarapo Frio
Guarapo is freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. It is healthy and delicious and was served to us in a glass cup. It was refreshing on a sweltering Havana day and the line was getting longer as we stood there.
So long Cuba it was an amazing ride and we cannot wait to come back and witness how the incredibly musical, intelligent, beautiful Cuban people will breathe new life into their country.