Hello Cuba!

Trip Start Nov 22, 2005
Trip End May 15, 2006

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Sunday, December 4, 2005

Thanks to my overbooked flight to Easter Island, my first complimentary ticket when towards a trip to Cuba! From one extreme to another, Cuba is very much the vibrant colourful country its portrayed to be. But my initial impressions didnīt start off so good. My first step off the aeroplane was greeted by 6 Cuban policeman watching every passenger as they stepped off the plane. My second impression walking through the passageway was the strong smell of cigars. All before I had even stepped foot into the airport! In the taxi driving through the streets of Cuba, the smell of pollution from car exhausts was overpowering. And the poverty on the streets was a distant image to the dream Carribean island I had in mind. When the taxi arrived at my hostel a man off the street rushed to the car and insisted on carrying my luggage inside, after which he then begged me for money. To say that I was nervous arriving in this country on my own is probably an understatement!

After a few hours my nervousness subsided thanks to my hosts. I was driven on a motorbike through the streets of Havana to one of the longest beaches in Cuba, Santa Maria. There I met a Cuban lifeguard who within a few hours decided that he was going to move to Australia with me and get married! And this seemed to be the general nature of Cuban men - very direct! Even so, my new friend turned out to be a great companion and I quickly adopted him as my official tour guide.

My hosts were excited to have their first Australian stay at their house. They reminisced about the TV shows Skippy and Flipper, which is apparently still shown in Cuba. And everyone thought that Australia was a cold country. The people of Cuba are so relaxed and friendly. Everything is "No Problem!". Walking through the streets of Old Havana, there were bands playing in almost every street with people singing and dancing everywhere. And the cigars! Itīs not unusual to see old ladies, at least 80 years of age, walking through the streets smoking the most enormous cigars I had ever seen.

On the streets the people seemed so happy and free. In reality they were far from the freedom that I know. Tourists generally had no problems but the Cubans had many restrictions imposed on them and were often denied access to many places. Even the beaches were policed and turned away many Cubans. I was fortunate to have met some really nice people who not only showed me around the city highlights but also gave me an insight into the way they lived. Itīs such a beautiful country and in such a short space of time I simply couldnīt capture it all on my camera. But I did my best and Iīve uploaded some of the photos and video images I took.
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