Personally, when I hear "Cuba” I have a flood of images in my head like Hemingway, Island of Freedom, Revolution, Fidel and Raul Castro, "Che” Guevara, famous handmade Cuban cigars, rum, cold mojito, a macho in a colourful sombrero playing the guitar , a passionate couple dancing Salsa, white sandy beaches, high palms and bright turquoise sea.
Actually there are much more amazing titbits that make this country a unique place on the Earth....
Cubans are revolutioners, regular church-goers and voodoo practitioners,so to say, three-in-one. You can witness real voodoo rituals in many parts of Cuba and they are not prosecuted by the police.On the other hand, on St. Lazarus Day (a religious holiday) thousands of Cubans express their faith making a tiresome pilgrimage to a sanctuary which is 25 km west of Havana.
This very mixture of Socialism, Сatholiсism and Santeria adds greatly to Cuban culture and lifestyle, I guess. That’s why Cuba is so magnetic and mysterious in its nature:)
Ernesto "Che" Guevara - an integral part of Cuban revolution. His iconic portraits can be found everywhere in Cuba, even schoolchildren start their day reciting the patriotic chant, "Pioneers of communism, we will be like Che." "Che”, a former doctor from Argentina, after the revolution in Cuba, served as the president of the National Bank of Cuba. Very soon he got bored with that too peaceful job, resigned and went to Bolivia to join another revolutionary movement. When he was killed by the Bolivian army in 1967, Castro declared a three-day national mourning in Cuba, and even now the government supports and sponsors all campaigns with slogans "Let's Be Like Che." Che is not only a Cuban hero, he is a hero of all rebels.
Cubans don’t waste their time watching TV! They prefer doing sports! According to surveys 25 per cent of Cubans participate in various sports such as all water sports, baseball, boxing and volleyball. BTW, women’s volleyball team has won two of the last three Olympic Gold Medals. Thanks to that sporty spirit Cuba boils with energy and liveliness:)
Traditions. Some of them might seem strange. For instance on New Year Cubans eat 12 grapes, 1 for each month of the year, they also believe that if just before New Year Eve you take a shower, dress up and walk around the house carrying an empty suitcase, it will bring good luck and welfare to the household.
Cars. You feel like you are back in 1950s …. There are no car producing plants on the island, so Cubans have to drive what their forefathers were likely to get, mostly old American and Soviet cars that exceeded their intended life by 5-7 times! Those old Fords, Chevrolets, Cadillacs, Chryslers, Packards, Pobedas, Volgas and Ladas are cherished like family members, modified and fixed up heavily to keep them running and passed from one generation to another:) But in fact, some of them look really gorgeous and might be museum pieces!
To cut the long story short, Cuba is definitely not an ideal place for shopaholics, since it has been suffering from the U.S embargo for more than 30 years. It’s impossible to buy even a chewing gum or a can of Coke there. Oddly enough, calendars are hard -to -find "commodity” in Cuba. WHY? But if you are interested in authentic shopping experience, Cuba can offer you original music CDs, some Socialist revolutionary mementoes like T-shirts, posters, post cards and badges with Che Guevara, cigars and handmade souvenirs such as small painted statues and other carved wooden ornaments.
I collected some trivia about Cuba, hope you find it interesting
If you look at Cuba from above, you’ll see that it has a shape of an alligator:)
Very few people in Cuba have permission to use the Internet. Those who do have the Internet access are monitored closely by the government. People who connect to the Internet without permission could be jailed up to 5 years.
Cuba is just 90 miles away from the USA so it might be a great vacation destination. Actually, American law does not forbid US citizens to travel to Cuba - they're just not allowed to spend any money there!
It’s strange but despite poverty Cuba has one of the best and free health care systems in the world! Cuban scientists developed the vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B.
Cuba is one the few places on earth where no dangerous animals or plants live! What’s more, it is home to the world’s smallest bird - Bee Hummingbird and the world’s smallest frog (only 8.5 mm long) - (amazingly it doesn’t have a common English name yet).
One in four cars on the road is a Russian Lada.
Interesting facts about Fidel Castro
Did you know that he has survived over 600 assassination attempts? It’s incredible!
Fidel is famous for his long public speeches, and the longest one lasted for 7 hours and 10 minutes but he hasn’t published much
Known for his fondness for Havana cigars, he quit smoking in 1985 for health reasons
Castro was in power for 49 years. In that time, there have been 10 U.S. presidents.
P.S. While I was writing this article, some really significant changes happened in Cuba.
April, 19th, 2011 is a historical day for the country - at the 6th Communist Party Congress Fidel Castro finally stepped down and Raul Castro was named first secretary of Cuba's Communist Party. Raul Castro comes across as much more liberal than his brother and as a matter of fact he has already proposed some reforms such as a right to sell private property as well as the elimination of the dual-currency system (Cuban pesos CUP and Cuban convertible pesos CUC) and set up private business. Cubans deserve these liberties and I really hope that they WILL have a better life. written by Marina Shvets
One more interesting thing. You know that Heminguay lived in Cuba not far from Havana for 20 years. He wrote his 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' and 'The Old Man and the Sea' there and got the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for literarure. Cubans loved him very much and called "Papa". Now his residence is a museum, entrance fee is $3, BUT to preseve the collection: the typewriter, hunting items and the writer's personal belonsgins, no visitors are allowed inside, they just can look at everything through the windows. Sounds ridiculous, right?
Victoria! Thank you for the comment and for the link:) I really enjoyed your brother's songs not only about Che (it's great) but I also like the way he sings my favorite song "Sway". Now I can say: "Little do we know about our Ulyanovsk singers!"
I know that you can sing very well but I was surprised to learn that you dance!!! It's true that gifted people are talented in everything!
Thank you for your article! I guess it's a very good idea to give us some interesting information about different countries where we haven't ever been. Who knows? May be thanks to your e-zine we will travel all over the world! Cuba attracts me by its rousing dances! I have some experience! It's very fascinatingly! We try to dance salsa, bachata and merengue) We have a great teacher - Anton Kurin. I think he was a Cuban in his past life! Of course Cuba also is associated with "Che" Guevara. I want you to listen to my brother's song about him! (La Banda "Che") http://www.realmusic.ru/songs/679326/ Also the cuban mood you can find in the song "Cuba" from "The forbidden drummers")