I have been waiting for a rainy day to work on more posts. Needless to say, it’s been dry here in Georgia! Not a good thing for the farming life or for more posts from our March trip.
Last summer, someone asked us whether our farm was ‘sustainable.’ I wasn’t quite sure how to answer–sustainable monetarily? sustainable as far as producing what we need for day-to-day living? sustainable as far as environmental practices? sustainable concerning animal welfare? …so many ways to interpret that question!
The answer to any of those questions in Cuba is “yes!” The farms that we observed were small. Outside of the city, almost all homes had small gardens. All seemed to have a menagerie of animals about the property; oxen were common, but cows were not.
Without any doubt, the most frequent question that we’ve gotten since returning from our trip to Cuba is, “Did you see many old cars?” We saw old cars–lots of them!
In the U.S., we think of transportation as a general right, with the expectation that transportation is easily available. That did not appear to be the case in Cuba. Transportation there included walking, horseback, horse and buggy, oxen and buggy, people movers (transport trucks, sort of), motor cycles, and anything else that could get a person from one place to another. In this post, I am going to include LOTS of pictures of the old cars, but will also include pictures of the other forms of transportation that we saw.
There were lots of 1940’s and 1950’s era American cars, but we also saw some old Soviet-built cars. There were also some modern cars, mostly Toyotas. We were told that most of the old American cars have Russian engines and tires made in China. There was no such thing as emissions standards or fuel efficiency! Most of the old cars have been brightly repainted numerous times; car owners take pride in their cars. License plate numbers begin with letters that indicate the vehicle’s use: B = bus or business, P = private, T = taxi or tourism, D = diplomat, etc. Here are just a few of the many old cars that we saw…
Late January 2016, we heard a cycling friend was putting together a trip to Cuba. His description was that ‘Cuba is different.’ Though we had never really considered visiting Cuba, we thought it would be an interesting adventure. The timing was right (early March), the weather would be warmer than Georgia, and it would be a chance to see Cuba before American tourism changed the scenery. We were also to be allowed to use “alternative transportation” (aka bicycles) on a few of the days; so that sounded like a good way to see the countryside and learn about the Cuban culture. We decided to sign-up and ended up being so glad that we did.
The trip was a people-to-people trip, planned to give us meaningful interaction with Cuban people. Our trip included a full schedule with visits to a tobacco farm, a cigar factory, Hemingway’s farm, a rum distillery, the beach, the Mural de la Prehistoria, the Vinales Valley, a cave that was one of Fidel’s hideouts during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Revolution Plaza, Old Havana, Morro Castle, an orchid garden, …..and I am sure that I am leaving something out! There was very little down-time–just a couple of afternoons. From what I have read, this is a typical schedule on people-to-people tours. Our guide, David (pronounced ‘Da-veed’), also took us to his grandmother’s home, where she was so welcoming. We only stayed long enough to meet her and some family members, but it was great! Later in the week, we stopped by the home of some of David’s relatives who lived in the country. David described their home as “humble,” but we thought it was wonderful; the setting was gorgeous and peaceful.
Rather than posting about our day-to-day adventures, I am going to focus these posts on topics related to the questions we have gotten since returning–old cars, food, farming, housing, historical/tourist sites, etc. My goal is to share some of the beauty that we encountered, so each post will include lots of pictures. Sorry that there has been such a delay in getting these posted!
At the time of our trip, only charter flights were going into Cuba from the U.S. We flew to Cancun, Mexico, met our travel group of twelve, then flew to Havana the next morning. Not only did we have the usual port-of-entry experience, we were also videotaped as we entered the airport. The airport is small, but modern. The first thing that seemed “out of the ordinary” was the parking lot. It was close to deserted!