From the south coast to the north, I saw the highlights of Cuba with which we are all familiar: classic cars, musicians, cigars, and architecture.
But what about the everyday experience for the Cuban?
Today we take to the streets to see what life is like for the working Joe and Jane.
Or Jose and Juana.
In the south coast city of Trinidad, where I spent half my time, horses transporting people and goods is a common sight.
With horses come cowboys. Here’s one who makes sugarcane juice at a tourist destination outside Trinidad.
And with the tourists come the souvenir shops.
As well as street musicians adding positive energy to the air.
Ordinary life here includes getting online, as these young Trinidadians are doing in one of two public WiFi hotspots in the city. For all practical purposes, home and mobile internet do not exist for Cubans.
Because internet access is restricted, you’re more likely to see locals conversing in the streets.
Or playing soccer in a school yard.
Here is a crew taking a break from a remodeling job in Trinidad. One day soon, this will be a new bar.
On top of a city building, here’s a roofer.
And on the streets below, a guy working on his car.
Another cowboy poses for a photo. He gives tours out to a nearby waterfall.
Many Cubans make a few side pesos by selling items out of their home.
This guy offers haircuts.
This lady tailors.
This one makes hats.
And this young lady works at a juice bar.
While some stores are regularly short on goods. Some are plentiful. This one offers meat.
And here are the beverages.
A local pharmacy sees a line forming.
Meanwhile, a school room sits empty during the winter break.
It’s a more leisurely lifestyle in Trinidad, no doubt about it.
On New Year’s Eve, neighbors around my guesthouse came out in full force as the clock neared midnight.
The second half of my Cuban journey took place in the capital city and heart of the island, Havana. Life here was similar as Trinidad with a few urban upgrades, such as phone booths.
And exercise parks.
More and better gas stations.
And hard hats for the construction workers.
Car repairs still took place on the streets, though.
Forgoing the hassle of a vehicle, this ice cream man uses his bike.
Soccer matches played on the streets as well.
This Havana barber offered a more urban flavor.
Similarly, these schoolchildren boasted their fashion sense.
While youth chilled in the park to access the WiFi, senior men chilled to a game of dominoes.
Religion is making a comeback in Cuba. On a Sunday in Havana, I sat in on a Mass.
And on the eve of my departure from this island, I went to the top floor of a downtown hotel to buy some expensive orange juice. Oh, and take in some final views of this city and country.
As I presented a couple of Saturdays back, Cuba is a culture of great opposites. The people radiate positivity and warmth, and they reveal such heart in their music, art, and dance. But this expression is muffled by a powerful government whose policies restrict speech and the economy. Limited in money and voice, Cubans struggle in sharing their culture and spirit with those outside their country.
Best to just travel there yourself.
Next time I share how you can do so.