“Good morning. Fidel esta muerto. Fidel is dead.”

That’s what our Airbnb host, Enrique, said to us Saturday morning. We had been in Cuba for two days at that point. I went into the living room to watch the news, and every channel was showing information about Castro’s passing.

the news Saturday morning

the news Saturday morning

saturday's newspaper

saturday’s newspaper

Enrique told us that there would be a nine day mourning period, and no music would be allowed during this time. I wondered if people would still be working today (they were), I wondered if our taxi driver would show up (he did), and I wondered if there would be an uprising (there wasn’t). Other than no music, it seemed like a typical day.

We talked to several people about what his death meant to them. I asked all a few of the same questions: 1.) Does Fidel dying change anything for your day-to-day life? The answer was ALL No’s. 2.) How does his death make you feel? We got a mixed bag of answers on this one… they ranged from being terribly sad and calling him the Father of Cuba to being extremely diplomatic without saying anything negative about him.

I wondered if they meant what they said? I met a wonderful woman who is a Cuban living in America, and she gave me insight into the culture and feelings around all of this. I’d like to share with you some of the things that she shared with me because it helped me get a little further along the road of understanding just how complicated this is.

  • It’s very hard to understand for people who did not grow up in Cuba for a good part of their lives
  • There is a big gap between “Fidel” and “Castro” which entails several years of absolute power
  • Almost all Cubans started fond of him once, and then they were not 
  • For a crucial long time, he directed what to eat, what to believe in, and what to do. And it had to be followed, until many didn’t follow anymore
  • And now there are Cubans scattered all over the world, reprogrammed and readjusted
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving while Fidel Castro was passing (this time, for real) is an irony of gratefulness
  • But the final death of his body and presence isn’t what matters most; it is hard for people to rid of his mark
  • Most have been ready for the news of his death for a very long time
  • Cubans can’t wait for real progress and respect of basic human rights on the island, despite of their like or dislike of Fidel and/or his death
  • It is FOR SURE one less dictator on earth – the one that tortured many with intense Machiavellianism
  • It is a very controversial matter – and one that is very clear to all those raised in Cuba by Fidel

All of this above helps me greatly in understanding this.

Now I’d like to share some pictures of Havana/Vedado because it’s unique and beautiful, and I love it there, and I love the people, and I’ll definitely be visiting Cuba again. We arranged a taxi to pick us up from the Varadero Airport, and we ended up sharing the ride with another person Annaliese met on the flight.

these ladies check travel documents for illnesses, dressed like 1950's nurses.

these ladies check travel documents for illnesses, dressed like 1950’s nurses.

Annaliese made a sign for Joel p.s. both signs are awesome

Annaliese made a sign for Joel
p.s. both signs are awesome

Varadero Airport parking lot - first glimpse of old cars😃

Varadero Airport parking lot – first glimpse of old cars😃

Joel!

Joel!

Does it get any bluer

Does water get any bluer?

Our Airbnb was AWESOME, PERFECT. The best part was our host, Enrique.  Here is a link to the apartment so you can book it when you visit Havana!

outside of our apartment building

outside of our apartment building

our street

our street

living room

living room

breakfast!

breakfast!

bedroom

bedroom

kitchen

kitchen

bedroom

bedroom

The day we got into Cuba, we walked around the Vedado neighborhood and had dinner and ice cream.

Viva Cuba Libre

Viva Cuba Libre

street

street

The National Hotel is a beautiful, stately hotel, with a great view of the water.

National Hotel

National Hotel

Vintage elevators! (wes anderson elevators)

Vintage elevators! (wes anderson elevators)

National Hotel - Churchill Bar

National Hotel – Churchill Bar

National Hotel - back, facing the water

National Hotel – back, facing the water

View from the cannon

View from the cannon

National Hotel

National Hotel

I don’t trust a government that puts up pictures of their ‘politicians’ everywhere but not any of normal citizens. re: thailand post.

Sooo many Castro photos.. this is his self-proclaimed favorite

Sooo many Castro photos.. this is his self-proclaimed favorite

Their tuk-tuks are called Coco Taxis (b/c they look like coconuts). On the back they say “sabor a tropico” – “taste of the tropic”.

Coco Taxis! 'sabor a tropico'

Coco Taxis!

The decor in almost all of the restaurants is similar to this (as Annaliese pointed out – a 1980’s Quinceañera).

Piano man.. and Decor

Piano man.. and Decor

All of the uniforms we saw looked like they were from the ’50s… Annaliese said, “Their uniforms look like what we wear for Halloween.”😂

1950's maid outfit

1950’s maid outfit

selfie of a selfie

selfie of a selfie

State-run ice cream chain, Coppelia, has a logo that reminds me of The Jetsons for some reason. Good ice cream!

coppelia sign

coppelia sign

I think the best part of the weekend was giving gifts to some random babies and our host 😍

gifts for host and the babies

gifts for host and the babies

I think I actually took more stuff than I brought back. The little girl who got the Elsa toy knew who Elsa is! Her mom said she had no idea what it was, but the little girl knew right away, which made me happy because she was so excited about it😍

this baby got a capitán america.. look at them dimples!

this baby got a capitán america hot wheels car.. look at them dimples!

Habaneros

Habaneros

Next up: Old Havana & Viñales…

and talking with an Actor who played one of my favorite characters EVER

2 Comments on “Good Morning. Fidel is dead.

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