Sunday, September 8, 2013
I wish we had more time to explore the real Cuba, most of these pictures were taken during guided tours organized by the travel agency. The tour guide talked quickly and moved quickly from place to place so we only managed to scratch a tiny layer of Havana. I didn't get to listen to the tour guide's explanations because I was always snapping pictures far from the tour group. All I can tell is that Cuba used to be a glamorous place back in the early 20th century up until the 50'ies, when it all started crashing down.
Walking through the capital, we could feel the former beauty of the city covered in neglect by time and instability. An old Cuban man approached Monkey and I and jokingly said that their currency used to be like gold, now it's not even worth toilet paper (too small to wipe your ass). He looked so sad... nobody would want to see their homeland crumble to poverty like that : C All Monkey and I could utter was a sympathetic: "It will get better, things are changing now!" which is true, Cuba is slowly opening up due to tourism. Our guide told us that previously, Cubans weren't allowed to own houses but now they can. Even though the average wage is only 14$/month, they "figure it out" somehow. That is the Cuban way of life: they figure things out!
Beautiful buildings in Plaza Vieja. I actually had no idea what some of these places are called and I googled it after my trip hihihi! A lot of the buildings in Old Havana are currently under restoration. The government hopes to restore Havana to attract tourists!
Lots of stray dogs in the street! Suddenly, they started fighting and barking crazily, even the dogs in Cuba must hustle in order to survive!
As soon as we got off the tour bus, loads of natives started chasing after us. One guy was doodling caricatures of my friends and demanded 1 peso in return. There were ladies dressed in traditional wear that circled Monkey and asked if he wanted to take a picture with them (for a peso). Others would play music and sing songs for a peso. Everywhere we walked, they would be pestering us for something : S
I like how he tied the tambourine onto his foot! I should've given him a peso (cause he wasn't pestering us)!
Our tour guide told us that in Cuba, the divorce rate is very high, that is because it only costs about 4$ to get a divorce LOL! Also, many times the wife has to live with the husband's family (because they don't have enough means to get their own place), and life with the in-laws is nothing but easy!
La Maestranza park was very beautiful!
We went inside the governor's palace, it was very nice! We only had 15minutes to tour the palace and most of the time was spent struggling in their bathrooms >___<;;; The doors wouldn't lock, we had to tip the maid for toilet paper and there was no toilet bowl cover D;
I love colorful buildings so I went a bit snap happy with all these building pictures : P
Masks! Old Havana reminds me of tougher Venice.
Cathedral of The Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Note the shopkeeper's shirt : P I bet he got it from a tourist!
Dunno why but drinking from hairy coconuts totally amuses me! I was happy for the rest of the day ^___^Y
Once it was the afternoon, we did the rest of the tour inside the bus because it's too hot to walk to the different areas.
Havana is split into 3 sections: Old Havana, Downtown Havana and New Havana, it's ironic because Old Havana is the most well-kept and beautiful section of the city!
As you can see from these pictures, this is the downtown area and the buildings are much more rugged than the previous ones!
We had a little shopping break where we stocked up on souvenirs! I'm sad that I didn't get to buy any of the pretty crochet dresses >_< They were only 10$ too!!!
On another day, Monkey and I visited Matanzas, the capital city of Matanzas province, the closest one to Varadero. It means the place of massacre, due to the aboriginals defeating the Spaniards (for once) back in the colonial days.
We went inside a pharmacy museum, it was extremely well preserved and the pills, vials and jars were so pretty <3
Pretty glass bottles!
The main street, it was super ghetto! It might not look like it in my pictures but the atmosphere was a bit depressing. The air smelled like diesel and there weren't that many people outside. And most of them looked sad or unmotivated, the shops were like unlit rooms stocking only a limited selection of items.
More people but for the main street of a capital city, it is still pretty empty : I
A view of the streets from the tour bus. Alot of the buildings were super run down and there were bars and wood planks covering the windows. I wondered how the people and their family lived inside the tiny houses (as big as a garage) without any light. A few houses had their doors open and I peeked inside, it was pitch dark! I wondered if they even had electricity...
Passed by a room of people playing chess!
A cute stray dog that hopped near me while I was taking a picture of the scenery. He had an injured paw and was clearly looking for food : C I wish that I had something edible on me but I didn't : C Monkey was scared that the dog was gonna bite me!
Slum-like houses on a mountain top.
Monkey and I visited a cave, we had to pay 5$ in order to take pictures inside! The locals are required to pay 20$, that's more than the average salary!
I've never been inside a cave so it was an exciting experience for me!
I miss the exotic trees!
This flower was HUGE! Bigger than my face! It was so pretty so I had to take a picture of it : 3
Next to slum-like houses was a pretty pink mansion. Whoever lives there must be a manager at one of the Varadero resorts (the workers make a lot compared to the average people due to the tips). We thought it was a vivid contrast of the level of inequality in an underdeveloped countries compared to developed countries.
I'm glad that we got to see the real Cuba beyond the secluded paradise that the resorts make us believe. The people there are hustling for every day necessities and their means are so modest. We are so incredibly lucky to have all the things we need and want at our fingertips!