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August 25, 2017
Day 1 in Havana Cuba was full of excitement, exploration, and of course, mojitos. So far, Havana is pretty close to what I expected, but there’s one thing most bloggers don’t share: the poverty. There is beauty everywhere in Havana, but there are also a lot of dilapidated buildings. Most people here don’t have much, but that doesn’t stop them from being happy and kind. Since the internet is so very limited here (you have to buy hourly internet cards to connect, even if you’re lucky enough to have wifi in your home), they find ways to entertain themselves and connect with others in person. It’s very common to see chess games in a park or a group of men playing dominos at a table set up in the street.
But as everyone has seen in photos, parts of Havana do seem to be frozen in time. We’re staying in Havana Vieja, so it makes sense that we’re surrounded by old Havana. There are classic cars everywhere with one new car for every 10 or so classic cars you see. Most of them are restored and look brand new – these are the taxis that you can hire to drive you around. They’re obviously more expensive than the yellow taxis, but for good reason. And totally worth it if you ask me. I mean, did you even go to Cuba if you didn’t get a photo in a classic car?
There’s lots of controversy around visiting Cuba, especially as an American. Our countries haven’t always had the best relations, but I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit. The main reason I wanted to come was because I didn’t know if I’d ever have the chance again. I love traveling and learning about other cultures, so it was important to me to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. I got an Airbnb instead of a hotel and I’ve been trying to eat at non-touristy places as much as possible. Instead of researching all the best places to go, I’ve been walking around and stopping in the shops and restaurants that seem the most authentic. And it has been wonderful!
One of my favorite things about Havana so far is all the music in the streets. There are lots of live bands performing, but even walking around the residential neigborhoods, you’ll always hear music playing from people’s homes. You’re also allowed to drink in the streets here in Havana, so combine that with la musica, and you’re bound to have a good time anywhere you go! And you really can go anywhere – it’s very safe here. Punishments for even small crimes are pretty serious, so you don’t have to worry about anything when walking at night. I’ve also noticed a lot of police and guards walking around, which adds to that feeling of safety.
I can’t wait to keep exploring Havana. Next up is Santa Maria del Mar. If we can find some sunscreen, that is.