Havana – Cuba and The Impending Winds of Change | Adriah Seah

When one encounters a new place for the first time, the barrage of new information and stimulus on the brain usually causes it go scrambling to make sense of the situation by comparing it with a mental list of other known destinations. Such was the case for me with Havana, Cuba. As the scenery flashed by outside the window of the taxi from the airport, some of it seemed strangely familiar, whether it resembled a mishmash of other tropical islands I’ve seen before or if it was just the countless images of Cuba portrayed in books and films that I’ve watched, I cannot say for certain. There are no shortages of stereotypes for Cuba, old American cars, grand buildings that have seen a better era, the weathered grandma puffing away on a great big cigar … yet what the photos often fail to convey is the sense of celebration about the place, a celebration of life itself, of which is often lived out in the streets. Everywhere you go, there’s always the sound of live music around the corner, and everyone seems to be out on the streets, or hanging out of their balconies, trading gossip with neighbours, and just sat in front of their doorways, watching life unfold on the streets. Apart from the slightly annoying habit of taxi touts and jineteros (hustlers trying to sell us everything from cigars, great restaurants to girls, whilst simultaneously attempting to guess our nationality/ethnicity)…..

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