On the occasion of the Presidential visit to Cuba, several photos from a visit to Havana in 2012. History.
It was inevitable, and now comes this frightening news:
“Carnival last week announced plans for weeklong “people-to-people” cruises starting in May on a 710-passenger ship of its new “fathom” brand focused on “social impact,” such as volunteering.”
Three years ago we joined an “educational tour” to Cuba. There were eight or ten of us and yes, there were some obligatory stops, but supervision was both good hearted and lax. Because of transportation snafus at Miami, which was just chaos, we managed to talk our way onto a plane a day before the rest of the small group, which gave us a free day, and we declined to join a couple of the activities, with no objection from our tour company. This arrangement is not ideal, but it seems to me far better than waiting until all restrictions are lifted and there is a monstrous Carnival cruise ship opposite the Malecon and there are more Americans than Cubans in La Habana Vieja.
Think about it, and if you are so moved, read this article, How to travel to Cuba before it gets mobbed by Americans.
A couple of years ago I wrote from Cuba, “Over rice with pork cutlets and Bucanero beer, the man at the next table explains how cell phones are so expensive that when his rings, he gets the number from caller ID and goes to a pay phone to call back. In Cuba there are still pay phones. And he says, the internet just doesn’t exist.”
Today in Cuba Offers Its Citizens Better Access to Internet, the New York Times writes that Cuba “is poised to expand access to the Internet by introducing about three dozen Wi-Fi hot spots around the island and reducing the steep fees that Cubans pay to spend time online.”
Three dozen hot spots on an island of 11 million people = 305555 people per hot spot. Maybe that’s better than “the internet just doesn’t exist,” but let’s just say there is a lot more to do.
With news this week that the U.S. has approved ferry routes to Cuba, Havana won’t be like it is now, very much longer. Americans who want to experience Havana the way it has been during the embargo should act soon. Whatever you do, get down there before the Invasion of the American Franchises. Please don’t wait until Havana has its own Bed Bath and Beyond. That would pretty much be missing the point.
Here is just a random, kind of unkempt Havana balcony across the street from the big capitol building. Click it to enlarge it and enjoy the detail. See more photos from our March 2012 visit to Havana in the Cuba Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. And see all the Friday Photos.
Headline today: Obama administration approves first ferry service to Cuba
Today’s announcements in Washington and Havana look like progress toward a relationship that makes more sense for The United States and Cuba. Still, let’s all savor this moment before there’s a Red Lobster, Jiffy Lube and Mattress Warehouse on every corner down there.
It seems incredible but ordinary Americans still can’t just hop on a plane and fly to Cuba. The rules have relaxed a little though, and nowadays with prior planning, a trip to Havana is possible. Click the photo to enlarge, and see this and 57 other photos from a 2012 trip in the Cuba Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. And here’s a story about the trip.