November 27, 2013

Traveling in Cuba

Havana's decaying downtown

Street scene in Trinidad
Tabacco plantations in Vinales
Cuba's mountainous countryside

Meghan and I just got back from two weeks in Cuba. Like so many Canadians we flew into Varadaro but didn't dally there. We spent time in Havana, Vinales, and Trinidad, with a brief stopover in Santa Clara. It was an eye opening and fascinating place to visit. And also a perplexing place. We came away with so many questions about how the country functions.

I still don't know where I sit in regards to my views on Cuba. Before visiting I probably had a rosy image of the country. There are after all many lovers of Cuba; Canadians embrace it’s beaches, rum, and cigars. Permaculturalists and Peak Oil observers upheld Cuba as a leader and living example of a sustainable low-carbon future. And yet human rights violations are systematic. To complicate matters there is a humourous cultural mash-up of the gunslinging-freedom fighting Che Geuvara with bikinis and rum All-Inclusive Resorts. Confusing? Yes.

It would be impossible and useless for me to provide any real analysis of what’s happening in Cuba. I haven’t done my homework and I know that such a complicated country can’t be summed up after a two week vacation. But I can express some of what we did see firsthand – surprising, beautiful, and humourous. 

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