Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 9)

Cuba 2005

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Trinidad, Cuba

Oct. 9 (cont.) 

Other impressions: Cubanos walk, ride ancient bicycles (whole families on one bike – how do they do it?), stand on roadsides holding out an arm for a ride – and most cars actually stop to pick people up. Amazing!

No serial killers in Cuba??

Bus stops – every bus stop we passed – had long, looong, loooooooong lines of Cubans waiting with a patience I’ve never before seen.

Any American would be furious, outraged if we had to wait on lines that long every day. There’d be an uproar, boycotts, demands for change. But here, as we passed these endless lines (and not just at bus stops), all I saw was resigned placidity.

It was really something to see.

I so badly wanted to get close-up shots of individual faces, to see if there was maybe a hint of impatience, exasperation, anger…anything roiling beneath the quiet tolerance.

Unfortunately, our big yellow bus was always on the move, bumpity-bumping right past the most interesting photo ops.

Ah, group trips. Gotta luv ’em. (Not!)

But, omg, the cars!

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba

I know less than nothing about cars, but I am mesmerized by the cars here.

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Pinar del Rio, Cuba

They are such old, bulbous hulks from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba

I snapped off shots of every one of these cars I saw, and let me tell you that’s dozens and dozens of photos because every other car we pass is a rolling museum.

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba

It’s like I’ve traveled back in time!

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Habana, Cuba

I’m here and it’s 2005, but I feel as if I’ve back-stepped into some foreign spin-off era of the American 1950’s.

No one has a cell phone to their ear. Anywhere. Ever. There is no advertising. At all. Anywhere. There are black & white television sets with antennas to be swiveled around for better reception.

Radios are as big as dressers, and made of wood. Every book I’ve seen so far is dated – not one recent-year edition to speak of.

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / Camaguey, Cuba

And the streets are dominated by still-functioning classic cars.

I mean, I’ve seen photos of Cuba’s cars, but to be here seeing them live, watching them trundle up and down the streets as actual transportation – not just collector’s items or showpieces – is just incredible. It’s unreal. It’s enchanting.

I can’t help wondering what Cubanos think about it.

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Photo: Sylver Blaque / On the road somewhere in Cuba

I asked Armando, but he just shrugged…

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Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land.”

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15 thoughts on “Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 9)

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