I arrived in Cuba via Cubana Airlines, the national airline of Cuba, from Cancun.
It, along with everything else in Cuba, seems to have been frozen in time around 1959â€¦. The Cubana Airlines flight was a jet, but I had to crouch down to around 4 feet to get onto itâ€¦. The seat cushions were decades old abusedâ€¦. And the actual width between seats was so small that my 5â€™11 and a half bared squeezed into it. Go communism go! Seriouslyâ€¦ go away!
As most places do, Cuba has a very interesting past. Initially occupied by the Guanajatabeys who had migrated from South America as early as 7,000 years ago, the island underwent major changes after Christopher Columbus sighted the island on a sailing trip in 1492. It was fought over a few times by the English and the Spanish and was traded for Florida in 1762 to the Spanish again. It became one of the worldâ€™s major suppliers of sugar. Its ethnic melting pot was enhanced by the addition of the original low-cost laborers, African slaves.
In 1902 Guantanamo Bay was leased to the USA and still remains so to this day, although few at the time of the agreement could have envisioned that the base would end up hosting concentration camps for an evil neo-conservative empire.
Things were going along swimmingly for the country when two freedom fighters of note, Fidel Castro and a foreign guerrilla fighter from Argentina, Ernesto â€˜Cheâ€™ Guevara managed to overthrow the government against incredible odds and manpower domination, but were in fact helped, although unwittingly, by the Americans at the time whose embargo limited the ability of the standing Cuban government to make war.
I am almost ALWAYS a supporter of freedom-fighters/rebels/guerillas as their goal is always to overthrow the government, which is always a good idea. However, once the government is overthrown, they almost always go ahead and just replace it with another idiotic regime with their own views of the world, always destined to fail because no centralized system of governing people can ever function as well as the natural development of individuals all deciding for themselves what to do to better their own lot (ie. a completely free market).
Fidel and Che thought Marxism was the right way to go. They, of course, were dead wrong, but Fidel has spent the last 50 years stubbornly trying to show he is/was right even in the face of incalculable evidence that he is/was not and instead of leading a revolution in order to help the common man he has become a tyrannical dictator who has oppressed and basically ruined the lives of nearly every common man in the country. Upon my arrival in Havana, the evidence is everywhere.
Havana felt a lot like Yangon, Burma. Felt very countryâ€¦. Very little (none) street lights at nightâ€¦ Upon arrival it it felt like time had stopped 50 years ago. The great majority of vehicles were from the 50s and 60sâ€¦ although there were a few 90s and 2000s Peugots, Volvos and some German, Japanese and Korean vehicles, most of which were high(er) priced airport taxis. The city is quite beautiful and nice in the daytime but at night, with no street lights and a lot of shady characters milling about, it takes on a more ominous vibeâ€¦ I donâ€™t know many women who would feel all that safe wandering around Havana at nightâ€¦ in the daytime, however, it has a neat feel to itâ€¦ not a single new building has been built in decades and most of the architecture is very Spanishâ€¦ combined with the old cars everywhere it really feels like a time machine transported you back decades. If it werenâ€™t for the knowledge that this complete lack of development was creating terrible struggle for the people there, it would be a really neat place. Hopefully the current regime will soon fail, likely once Castro finally bites it, and if it then opens up to the world this will be an exciting, interesting place to be.
Upon driving into Havana, I passed countless Che Guevara and Castro billboards, including one that had a picture of George Bush and an â€œ=â€? sign pointing to an image of Adolf Hitler, which I would never even question (to date the American neo-con empire has followed the nazi playbook almost without fault). But it is quite striking to see here, in the land of Castro, one of the sickest bastards ever unleashed on this planet. Only Kim Jong Il, the Myanmar junta and a few African pricks surpass this kind of disgustingness. George Bush would be like a savior compared to Castro.
The town was ghost-town-likeâ€¦ I went to two locations of Casa Del Musica discoteca (the one in the Miramar district is apparently the better/nicer one), supposedly one of the best discos in town, but they were both practically empty, with only a few girls in it, who told me of their struggles but were hesitant to say more. They were beautiful, solid, sensual beings, but who had been so beat down by the sadistic culture of the region that they were shells of their potential. It is so sad, especially when put into perspective that tens of millions of fat, pasty, ignorant, style-less, class-less Camerican girls have everything they want and yet are on Prozac and are depressed while these beautiful chicas struggle for everything and yet can retain a smile while doing so.
When I asked/prompted some of the beautiful girls here that perhaps their horrible life came as a result of one egomaniac, sick bastard, named Castroâ€¦ I was immediately told to be very quiet. I told them I would fight with them to remove him. But they have been so beaten down for generations here they have no fight in themâ€¦ it is so sad to see people so beaten into submission. At one point, while driving in a taxi with one girl, she actually slumped down in the back seat and basically hid, as we drove past a police checkstopâ€¦ apparently to even be seen with a foreigner could have repercussions for them.
So, I retreated back to my nicest hotel in Havana (Hotel Parque Central, got a good deal through fastbooking.com) and tried to push the memory of this 50 year soul-genocide out of my mind.
For a country with Che Guevara on half its billboards I ask, where are the freedom fighters? Iâ€™d be so happy to stand next to them and fight to rid this beautiful land of its Diablo. He is 80 years old, the time is now. Pero, I digressâ€¦ it is up to them. If they are not willing to fight for themselves then who am I to get involved. As for me, I leave today. What a country this could/would be without the the oppression of one delusional egomaniac. He will die soon, thankfully, but apparently some of his brethren seem all too eager to step in and oppress the millions for the sake of themselves. If the people here are ever ready to stand up and fight, I, like Che Guevara, would be happy to join them. Until then, I will move on to happier placesâ€¦ life is too short to waste in an apparently hopeless situation.
However, that said, Americaâ€™s current embargo on the country is ridiculous as well. Firstly, communism is and never was any threat to Americaâ€¦ in fact, America now is becoming more communist than many other countries, including China. Secondly, the best way for Cuba to enter the 21st century is to open it up as much as possible to outside influence so the people can gain information and capital in order to become more free.
It is always interesting to see how falsely constructed economies work, however, and Cuba was interesting. There are two currencies in Cuba. The regular (national) peso, for the Cubans, and all foreigners are given â€˜convertible pesosâ€™. The convertible peso is worth about 30 times more than a regular peso, but when you go to pay for things, a local will pay the exact same price as you, but with â€˜nationalâ€™ pesosâ€¦ in effect, they are paying 30 times less than you, for everything!
As a final note, I was told by numerous people that internet access is almost impossible and even if I got it, it would not be high speed. But, at the Hotel Parque Central they had wifi in the lobby that was reasonably fastâ€¦ it cost $8/hour though. They have internet in some of their higher priced room apparently also. Plus I contacted Hotel Nacional and they said they have internet in their executive floor rooms for $20/dayâ€¦ but since I didnâ€™t have internet in my room at the Parque Central, it was just another reason to want to get out of town and head to a free state.
Also, in regards to ATMs, I read on the internet that it was quite easy to get cash from ATMS here, as long as your ATM card wasnâ€™t from Americaâ€¦ well, I have 4 or 5 cards, from various places, and none of them worked in any of the machines I triedâ€¦ I had to go to my hotel and get a physical cash advance from a cashier who was available mostly daylight hoursâ€¦ so keep that in mind.
I am writing this on another Cubana Airlines soviet-era plane on my way to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I expect to be in the Dominican (in the capital and also in Boca Chica) for about a week, if this rusted out old beast makes it.