June 15th, 2015

New Tilley Hat

Cuba Notes

Last month, my mother and I went to Cuba. I've been posting on Facebook, and have gathered together postings here. I'm still processing the photos and videos. In the meantime, let me share a couple of my favorite photos, and some observations:

Mom and I on Pedicab, Old Havana, Cuba 5/23/5

  • Cuba Notes 1: Our Road Scholar Tour members were a good group. Seventeen tourists, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photography Instructor who was training in another Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer instructor for the increased demand in Cuba tours, and several Cuban locals as guides. Internecine conflicts were kept to a minimum and we all got on the bus on time. Mom, at 90, was the oldest of the group. I, at 60, was the second-youngest tourist (and not by much). Walking around (I averaged more than 4 miles a day) largely on cobblestone streets or barely-maintained sidewalks I lost weight.

  • Cuba Notes 2: Cuba is a socialist country. It s not really a Communist country, but after the Bay of Pigs (the CIA-funded invasion that failed due to a near-complete lack of support from the Cubans who live here), they had no choice but to get support from The Other Side in the Cold War. As of 1961, the Cuban Socialist Party changed to the Cuban Communist Party. When the Soviet Union fell, Cuba became a client state without a state. For the embargo to have continued this long hurt Cuba AND the US economically, and just made us look like whiny bullies.

  • Cuba Notes 3: Prohibition was simultaneously the best and the worst thing that happened to Cuba in the last hundred years or so. The country was a part of Spain until the Spanish-American War (where we picked up the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam). Because of the disaster of Prohibition (anti-immigrant hatred mashed with Christian fundamentalist extremism attempting to solve a real problem and failing miserably), Cuba experienced a major building boom and economic expansion and the mob. Corruption was rampant and the government unresponsive to the needs of the people. We had strong unions and a post-WWII boom to build a middle class, but even after Prohibition was repealed in the US the disparity in incomes (like in the US now) led to the Batista regime and the need for a revolution like Castro's.

  • much more under the cutCollapse )