The first thing that stood out to me about Cuba was the colors. The 16th century Spanish influenced and crumbling architecture, juxtaposed against brilliant pastel pinks, yellows and blues, bombed out buildings ready to fall at any moment if not for the fresh paint job on each facade, the 1950's automobiles spewing fumes, yet looking as spectacular as they did years ago. As its been said countless times before, walking through Havana was like taking a step back 60 years in time to a place of vibrance and vitality but even more "could-have-beens" - opportunities foregone under the face a revolution and the quick succession of a dictatorship.
In the few months between U.S. presidents when it had just become relatively simple for Americans to travel to Cuba, it was easy to sense the eagerness of the Cubans anticipating the wave of Americans that would soon bring increased tourism, one of the few semi-private industries giving many Cubans an advantage to earn additional income. Indeed, the culture has been locked in a period paused during the dawn of technology - the rise of internet culture, smartphones and social media. It reflects on the people stuck in history. Yet, among the crumbling buildings, forsaken economic opportunities, and inability to even leave the country somehow the people are happy. They are a reflection of all the great things Havana has to offer in art, architecture, simple cafes, markets and more.
But the city also imbued an energy I've never encountered. La Habana, in fact all of Cuba, is waiting. Waiting for new opportunity, waiting to speak their minds, waiting to leave, waiting for each other, waiting for the ability to earn an income over the government's allotted amount, waiting for freedom. Cuba was a test of patience in waiting. From aged and broken infrastructure, a labor force not motivated by capitalism, and the sleepy beach culture that comes from endless warm weather, nothing happened quickly and everything was unexpected. When your taxi breaks down in the middle of the country for the third time in 2 hours and it takes a family riding along on a scooter to stop and offer some tools to help, you realize that this situation, this camaraderie between Cubans willing to help strangers, is not out of the ordinary. This is simply, Cuba.
pinks & greens
paladar la guarida
really cool entrance!
view from the roof
climb the stairs in paladar la guarida to find a really cool view of old habana.
Trinidad offers its own flavor of Cuban culture. The quintessential sleepy little beach town had some quirks all on its own that stood out as some of the most memorable moments of the trip. From horseback riding through the countryside, hiking up to a small lagoon / waterfall, navigating through the pastel colored streets, partying in Disco Ayala - a stand-out club inside a cave located just beyond city central, to hanging out on the beach with new friends and endless mojitos, Trinidad had some truly surprising quirks.