“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.
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.
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!
The day we got into Cuba, we walked around the Vedado neighborhood and had dinner and ice cream.
The National Hotel is a beautiful, stately hotel, with a great view of the water.
I don’t trust a government that puts up pictures of their ‘politicians’ everywhere but not any of normal citizens. re: thailand post.
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”.
The decor in almost all of the restaurants is similar to this (as Annaliese pointed out – a 1980’s Quinceañera).
All of the uniforms we saw looked like they were from the ’50s… Annaliese said, “Their uniforms look like what we wear for Halloween.”😂
State-run ice cream chain, Coppelia, has a logo that reminds me of The Jetsons for some reason. Good ice cream!
I think the best part of the weekend was giving gifts to some random babies and our host 😍
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😍
Next up: Old Havana & Viñales…
and talking with an Actor who played one of my favorite characters EVER