Started the day at a farmer’s market. Not usually my favoritething, but this was pretty interesting. Tour guide Marissa gave us some Cuban Pesos (not our usual tourist Cuban Pesos) to spend because this market is for the natives. Lots of Tarot (they make Tarot chips as well as plantain chips. All good) Papaya is called Bomba Fruit. Good conversations in Spanglish.
Then on to an extremely stimulating presentation on post-revolution Cuba. First a look at a slick magazine produced in the studios where we sat, aimed at Cuban/Americans aiming to invest in real estate and art. Its future depends on the embargo going away, though, I think.
The history presenters covered a lot of what we have done before with new angles. But first—Zika. They have a campaign going on to eliminate the virus. The military is going home-by-home and spraying inside and out. You have to let them in. Now back to our program.
The island seems to have health care and education pretty much in hand. Mandatory ed to ninth grade. Then high school/university if you qualify. Maybe trade school or some other kind of specialty school like the arts, etc. if you don’t. End of University—all free—you owe the government 3 years. Men, one year military, two years community service. Women three years community service. Community service is often in your specialty. For example, our Cuban tour guide trained as a French translator. No one wanted one of those, so she became an English language tour guide, a gig she likes better anyhow.
Economics is more difficult. They went over how Guantanamo became ours (a lease which was done at such a low rent, Castro never accepted any money, but still ours. And the Bay of Pigs, and the Missile crisis. And the collapse of the 90’s after the Soviets pulled out, which has led to the present day gradual introduction of more free enterprise. They talked of immigration and the wet-foot-dry-foot rule. If you take one of those rafts and manage to set foot on American soil, you become part of the USA and are eligible for green card and eventual citizenship. If your boat is intercepted before you hit dry land, it’s back to the island for you.
Anyhow, main point is that they pray for lifting of the embargo which is still strangling them, though we must say they remain a vibrant and friendly people with all kinds of energy and creativity.
Our final stop was a modern dance company. We saw an excellent performance, met the founder director of the Cardenas company, and shared a sandwich and conversation with the dancers. The folks we talked to had been dancing since childhood and had always wanted to be and been steered toward dancing. Asked how often they performed, they said it was difficult because of lack of venues in the City. Hard for us to imagine. Just clear out a loft or something. Anyhow, we finally have some free time, so we’re going to use it. Tell you how later.