Our (wo)man in Havana

Havana Travel Blog

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My trip to didn't exactly have the best of starts; after the bus driver almost not letting me get on the bus to Heathrow from my hotel, both my flights were delayed and the crowning pinnacle was to come at the airport in Havana when I dropped [and temporarily lost] my passport and the ATM wouldn't let get any cash out. Luckily I had some Euros left that I managed to exchange and get me sufficient funds to get to the hotel to meet my friend Amanda, who had flown out a few days before me. After almost 2 hours in the airport going to every Lost & Found office I had to admit defeat and head to the hotel. My luck was in the next day however when I returned to the airport to discover my passport had been handed in minus my Tourist Visa; an issue which would continue to nag at me until my departure.

Losing my passport was probably the most stressful experience I've had whilst travelling and one which I would prefer never to repeat, words of caution to fellow travellers always know where your passport is an keep a copy!
The yin and yang of good luck-bad luck was to also reoccur throughout our trip.
We then spent a few days in Havana after I arrived so I could check out the monument to Che Guevara in the Plaza de Revolucion [I have since learned that every town has one of these], visited a cigar factory and checked out the old part of town [Habana Vieja]. The visit to the cigar factory was really interesting, you got to see the actual working conditions and as a nice Socialist touch the workers are read to over a PA system; a newspaper in the morning and a novel in the afternoon, I wish that would happen at my office!
The buildings and streets of Havana are really fascinating and I loved all of the old American cars you see driving around.
There is however a clear indication of how the Revolution in some ways has repressed the country; Che and Fidel were a little naive that they could be self sufficient from the USA and that coupled with the harsh trade embargo imposed by the US have really crippled Cuba in some ways, especially for car and machine spare parts as most things pre-revolution were American made. Also the USSR didn't help matters by withdrawing support and providing sub-standard alternatives to American goods. Generally though the Cuban's as a result are more resourceful and seem some of the happiest and easygoing people I've met on my travels.
All of the people we encountered were so warm and friendly and people just want to come up to you and practice their English, even the chat-up attempts from men, young and old alike, are non-threatening and generally more amusing than offensive.

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Sign outside one of Ernest Hemingw…
Sign outside one of Ernest Heming…
Inside the Hotel Ambos Mundos wher…
Inside the Hotel Ambos Mundos whe…
Beautiful street sign
Beautiful street sign
The Bacardi Building
The Bacardi Building
View from the top of the Bacardi b…
View from the top of the Bacardi …
A tobacco factory in Havana
A tobacco factory in Havana
Im not sure but I think this may …
I'm not sure but I think this may…
photo by: mario26