Being tourists in Havana but also hearing the inside story of Cuban life today
Our last day and we walked around old Havana admiring the colonial architecture. We were taken to a tourist market where we could buy art ranging from African pieces to erotic lovelies. This was real Tourist tat, made to capture foreign currency and I wondered why paint was available for workers to paint for tourists but there is none for the school children to use. We also visited National hotel a big art deco building. So many important people have stayed there that there is now a decade wise depiction of the film stars, musicians and more recently politicians who have stayed there.
Our guide Raimondo had allowed us to write down one question each about Cuba which he promised he would answer on the last day, our questions covered currency, censorship, travel, tourism teaching, buildings and health care and i wondered whether he would answer them or duck them. I was surprised at his openness in answering many of the questions. A picture emerged of a Cuba that is sorely lacking in human rights and where people want the freedom to travel and communicate with others.
So i ended this holiday feeling that i had enjoyed being in Cuba, seeing the towns and the architecture, but i felt very uncomfortable about the lack of human rights and feel that i would not want to visit again until that improves. It was a rather downbeat note for coming home. I was also exhausted after our heavy programme of biking, seeing new sights and dancing and needed a weekend to recover.