"" Writer's Wanderings: Cuba--The Cars, The People, The Beauty

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cuba--The Cars, The People, The Beauty

You went to Cuba. Did you see the cars?

That is the first question everyone asks when they discover that we visited the beautiful island of Cuba, rich in history and beautifully adorned with vistas that make you want to linger. Cuba is much more than the old cars that are tuned up and polished with love but it does say a lot about the people of Cuba.

Havana was the place we saw the most cars. It is a little more affluent than the other two ports we visited. In those ports there were more carts and horses but then they did not have the big city atmosphere of Havana either. In Havana, the cars were often used as taxis or for tours of the city. We saw tourists stopping at many of the same places we did by bus only they were getting there in old convertible cars some of which had not originally been convertible.

If the contact we had with people showed me anything, it illustrated how resilient the people are. They have been through good times but also some really hard times. They live on ration cards receiving supplies of food from the government. They are now beginning to receive some promise of earning more money through setting up their own businesses and many are getting into the tourism area that is helping to improve their economy.

One of our fellow passengers told us their guide had said that a country is not its government. A country is its people. It reminded me of a tour guide in Viet Nam who said to us that when people mention VIet Nam they think war but Viet Nam is a country. I hope others will judge our country not by the wars we've fought or the things our government does but by the hearts of the people who make up the country.

I saw kindness, resilience and ingenuity. Our tour guide pointed to a car as it went by and said she is amazed at how they keep them running. Lift the hood and you may find parts from a coffee maker keeping the engine going. The kids who don't want to stay in regular school are enrolled in learning a trade--restoration of old buildings. As the kids learn, they are also providing labor to prepare Havana for their 500th anniversary in 2019. In a few years, many of those beautiful architectural buildings will be returned to their original appearance.

There is much more of Cuba to be explored I'm sure than just the taste that we received. I have no idea what life is truly like, especially away from the ports that we explored. As a tourist you see what is offered to you. But I think we got a glimpse of the real Cuba in the people we met. There were times that we sat in a church or cathedral to get out of the sun. As we did, I prayed for the people of Cuba. May God bless them.

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