My first visit to Cuba
What can I tell you about Cuba and her people? I have to pick among many experiences, feelings and impressions. As soon as my plane landed on the Cuban soil, I felt that I was in the right place and that I was welcome. An old-timer car drove me to my place of residence and I slowly started getting to know the Cuban reality. I walked the streets, watching people's faces and their thin bodies. I remember how I'd been once told that the Cubans were very happy people, who singed and danced in the streets, but my impression was altogether different.
What I saw were people who looked sad and deeply concerned, wondering if they would have something to eat the next day. No smiles. Just people doing what they can to survive, trapped in that vicious circle of hunger day after day.
Havana (La Habana), with its two million inhabitants, is the Cuban capital. Because of its old, dilapidated facades and garbage in the streets, the city reminds me of an impoverished beauty, but it is also obvious that it once was a beautiful ''lady'' and that her people were well-off. The climate is pleasant, not too hot; there is plenty of greenery and shade. Classic cars from the 50's of the last century are used as taxis.
Several other means of transport are also available in the centre of Havana. Busses are the cheapest, costing a few cents, and are always overcrowded. There are also bicycle-taxis, suitable for short distances, and carriages with horses. The streets are crowded, but everybody seem immersed in their own thoughts. Living conditions are very harsh; the average salary is 15 to 20 dollars. Clothing, footwear, food...everything is very expensive.
The western world does not share Cuba's hard reality. In the 90's of the last century, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, infants had to drink water with sugar because there was no milk.
For the last 56 years Cuban citizens are not allowed to eat cow's meat or to kill a cow, and children can drink milk only until they reach 7 years of age. It is no wonder then that the multitude of Cubans dream of having a cup of milk before they die. Some of them have never visited another Cuban city, let alone another country.
However, the Cubans dream of a better future. They are true artists in the art of life and survival. Although many things in this country seem upside down, there are many hidden gems - men and women willing to live for their ideals and change people's lives. They only have to be discovered and given wings to fly.<(p>
In spite of everything, Cuba is a very beautiful country and her people are kind and willing to share what little they have with others.
The Cubans show great solidarity and are very social. They are open and accept new people easily. They welcomed and accepted our association "Zdenac", and together we are going to create some new, better stories and help those who aspire to heights learn how to fly.