Thursday, July 20, 2006

First impressions of Cuba

I have now been in Cuba for four days. My bags may or may not be joining me shortly. Thanks a bundle, KL Effing M. Anybody know if I am entitled to compensation?

Normally, picking up some cheap replacement clothes to tide yourself over would not be much of problem. But this is sunshine Stalinism. It is hard actually to buy anything whatsoever.

I am staying with a family in what passes for a middle-class district in Havana. Vegetables and meat are more or less readily obtainable at a market nearby, although it isn't open every day.

Those who need such basics as bottled water, booze, chocolates, cigarettes, booze - oh, and did I mention alcohol? - face a 40 minute walk there and back to the nearest outlet.

Clothes and items for the home require a 30 minute taxi ride to central Havana. Even there, the choice is limited and of poor quality.

That said, there is a certain seductive character to this place. To quote Bobby
Dylan, there is music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air. All the constant invocations to Socialismo o Muerte have a pavlovian effect on this old heart of mine.

And the band at the main jazz club last night was absolutely cracking, although I suspect I am going to be all cubopped out by the end of the trip.

Anyway, I have now found an internet cafe within 40 minutes walk that only necessitates half an hour of queuing before you can get a terminal!! More on the spot blogging later, including some political verdicts when I have done a bit more research.



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