I've eaten chinese three times in the last five days.
It's a tragedy, I know, but it's pretty damn hard to find food here!
If you walk in to a super mercado (it'd be best if they'd just leave away the super) the first thing you normally see is alcohol. Not just a couple of bottles, certainly not, there are actual walls full of Havana Club and what ever alcoholic beverage your liver might desire. A paradise for some but I for one was just on the hunt for water, something that is quite hard to find here sadly. The mercados here are definitely something else. Instead of having different types of foods all you really find are crackers, biscuits and if you're lucky some pasta, rice and beans (had enough of the latter too be honest!) and if you're really lucky and early; meat. It's really quite sad and especially after a discussion I had with a local about the rationing and money the make per month (equivalent of what I spend per day!) I was pretty shocked. We even looked up the super super mercado but even in there, most of the shelves were empty and we had to que more than half an hour to pay for some biscuits and crackers. And when looking for something to eat a restaurant all the really offer are sandwiches. Jambon y queso, wherever you look. But of course, besides the sad reality Cuba has so much more to offer (actually ate some pretty delicious fish)
The first thing anyone here will notice are the cars. The first time I drove in a 1950s Chevrolet I felt as if that poor thing, with way too many miles on it would fall apart at any moment. They are called taxi collectivos, taxis where anyone can just hop on and they'll take you into and from Havanna for 1CUC (~1$). One time we were able to squeeze in six of us, the driver not included and when passing a policeman at a check point it was of course me at the back who had to bend over and was covered with bags. Next to those events, bicycles and horse carriages on the freeway(!!!) all I can say is; welcome to Cuba!
I have no words for the people here. When buying something at one place and asking where to get something else, they refer you to their neighbours or cousins, who too try to get you to go to their neighbours or cousins. I love it. It's not everyday you see people helping each other out in any way possible and throught that I got to learn so much more about the locals. That's actually how we ended up on the rooftops of Havanna in a restaurant a normal walkerby would have never discovered. We walked up several staircases, actually passes through family homes and soon enough Havana lay at our feet. An unforgettable moment.
However, when my roommate and I roamed through Havanna, at every corner you turned you heard an 'aaay mamey' or 'que linda' and 'you so pretty!'. Great for the selfesteem, I must stay, nut it does get on your nerves after the 100th kissykissy sounds they make. It is, however, simlply what they do and they don't really have any intentions behind it. If I went up to them to confront them, I can tell you they wouldn't now what to do with themselves.
For the weekend two german guys, my roommate and myself decided to take a weekend trip to Varadero, a town 2h from Havana with supposedly the nicest beaches in Cuba. Of course we took a collectivo (not sure that was a good idea for such a long trip) and you just feel as if you're in a completely different time, with the wind (sadly quite polluted air) blowing in your hair when sitting in those vehicles more than twice as old as you are. We stayed at a casa particular, a couple of kilometers outside of Varadero and I have to say, that was the best part of the trip. When staying at a casa, you're actually living with a cuban family amd experiencing how the locals live. It was like a movie. Our part had rocking chairs on the patio and from there you heard vendors, shouting whatever they were selling, horses and carriages passing by and buses filled to brim, nearly exploding with how many passengers it carried. At night, our meighbours had a great gettogether whit looooots of rum and other beverages. And whilst I was trying to sleep I was even able to understand what they were heatedly discussed about although the Cubans have a tendency to not pronounce the letter s at all. But I'm pretty damn proud I understood at least a few things (high five to me)
In the morning when our host prepared a delicious breakfast for us, we got talking with the whole family. I learned so much of the spanish language, cuba's history and problems the locals were confronted, it was overwhelming. And turns out the owner of the casa was quite a famous fisher in cuba who seemed to have received some kind of award. Always nice to meet celebrities (: By the way, apparently Obama will be in town in a couple of weeks and the Rolling Stones are doing a free concert, whaaat?!?
I'm currently sat at a wifi spot, a place where anyone can log oneselve into the internet as long as they have a tarjeta, a card with a code that one can either buy through the black market (yes, there's a black market for internet access) or at official institutions. It's quite funny amd sad at the same time to see how dependent I myself and tourists in general are. But seeing that this is more or less the only way for the cubans to connect with the world outside of acuba is quite frustrating. Whenever you drive by a park, sitting area or hotel where a ton of people are sat in front od with their mobile devices, you always know there's wifi (;
Adios for now (and until I find the next wifi spot),