Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Edge of Change

Cuba on the Edge of Change?

Obama visiting for 3 days accompanied by 40 senators…

The last US president to set foot in Cuba was 80 years ago: Calvin Coolege?

Cuba at times can feel like a nation abandoned. The aching disrepair of its cities, the untamed foliage of its countryside, the orphaned coastlines —
a half-century of isolation has wrapped the country in decay. Yet few places in the world brim with as much life as Cuba, a contrast drawn sharper amid its faded grandeur.
Sabine Choucair shared this link
It’s a land of endless waiting and palpable erosion. Yet after all these decades, an uncanny openness among the Cuban people remains.
nytimes.com

They wait, coiled with anticipation. For web pages to download. For tourists to hurry up and buy something.

For a flag to be raised. Cubans know how to wait. Yet, after decades of Communist rule, they are less prepared to handle the feeling of opportunity now permeating the island, and their government’s resistance to letting them seize it.

Breaking out of Havana is essential, eye-opening, often impossible. Flights are irregular, leaving in their own good time — if at all.

The search for a car that can handle the gouged roads and aged infrastructure will plumb the depths of your patience. The effort, though, is worth it.

The country yields all the complexity, beauty and idiosyncrasy of one of the world’s few remaining frontiers.

From the outside, the destruction is palpable. Paint molts from walls. Structures list to one side.

Facades torn from the edges of homes leave dollhouse interiors exposed to the elements. Look closer, though, at knickknacks arranged just so on splintered shelves.

Cracked floors swept clean. Plastic flowers perfectly arranged. Quiet pride in every detail.

The revolution is over. It has been for decades. Not that you would know it from the rhetoric or the adulation bestowed on this slice of Cuban history, at least by Communist Party leaders.

But when the sound waves subside and the propaganda quiets, what you find is a military clinging to historic relevance, with an uncertain place in today’s Cuba.

Like much else there, its aging weaponry and upper ranks have been sealed up in a time capsule for more than 50 years.

The trappings of the past are literal in Cuba — the ancient Chevys, the faded posters of Fidel.

It can, at times, seem studied, a museum of quaintness, until you need a ride somewhere and come to realize that these classics, not meant to be cute, are vital transportation for the Havana masses. Or you realize that the posters cling to the walls of a former revolutionary’s home, the charm only incidental

Tourism is inescapable in today’s Cuba. Selfies on the Malecon. Shots of classic cars.

Che T-shirts. For Cubans, this is for now the highest rung in the emerging economic order, one of the few ways to break free of monthly salaries that could scarcely pay for an hour of parking in Miami.

Cubans scrape together what they can to offer services outside their areas of specialization. Here, doctors drive cabs, engineers hawk tamales and working farmers hustle to sell a horse ride to travelers.

In a land of iconic imagery, perhaps no images are more revered, marketed or pervasive than those of the nation’s revolutionary heroes.

Ground zero for this iconography is the Plaza de la Revolucíon. The black outlines of Fidel Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos grace the walls of buildings flanking the plaza, their images looming large over the heart of the nation.

Though Cuban society has been closed off from the world for a half-century, there remains an uncanny openness about the nation’s people.

Pop into a random apartment and the worst you may get is a wary stare, followed by a joke.

Cubans seem inoculated from the preoccupation with privacy that infects other countries. Life is lived in public here, doors cast open to the night, beckoning the passers-by.

Note: In the 80’s Cuban physicians were everywhere civil unrest plagued countries. Particularly in Angola and Africa.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2021
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