by Tammi Arrender, KNOE-TV, Monroe
My preconceived notions of Cuba have been both confirmed and shattered.
I expected to see armed soldiers at every corner. I expected to see big paddled ceiling fans and mosquito nets around the beds. Those expectations were smashed. Thankfully. I did see the old cars, not in near as mint condition, though, as I had seen on TV.
And speaking of those antique cars, each one was filled to the brim with people. Like a clown car, there were passengers sitting elbow to elbow. Our tour guide explained that so few people could afford cars in Cuba that people lined the streets to pick up rides from perfect strangers. Basically, hitchhiking. In the U.S. we hardly hear of that anymore because of stranger danger. But in Havana our guide says violent crime is practically non-existent. So these folks who wish to fetch a ride with any person on four wheels, don't give it a second thought.
My other real memory of the day was the deplorable living conditions. Crumbling buildings that are just skeletons of what was obviously glorious architecture back in the 50's. I learned that housing is so poor here since most everything was built some 80 years ago, that three houses a day collapse, often injuring the occupants. I'll never take for granted again the comfortable, quaint, little cottage I have in Monroe that by these standards would be a palace.
Well, I could talk more about the first day, the food, the view of the Gulf and the Caribbean, and some of the people we've already met, but I'll save that for tomorrow. I'm somewhat of a whipped pup now and think I'll retire for the evening. (You know I'm tired when I skip supper at what was supposed to be one of the nicer restaurants in Havana!). Sleep is the only thing in my book that trumps food!
Let's talk tomorrow.