I discovered Cuba three years ago, traveling to Havana with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. I was touched immediately by the people, their struggle, their resilience, their friendliness, their intelligence, and their devotion to family. They have survived over 50 years in an up and down economic situation, always making the best of what they had and remaining optimistic about their future. Cuba boasts a 99.9% literacy rate, due to their policy of free education for every Cuban, and a healthy population due to free healthcare.
There is a school in every town and village and a doctor within four blocks of everyone in Havana, and every Cuban living in towns and rural villages has access to a doctor within a short distance. Since there are no fast food businesses, fresh fruits and vegetables and some meat, usually pork, are on everyone’s table. Children grow up eating vegetables instead of candy, although I found out how much they love chocolate! I open my backpack to get out a few M&M packs and all of a sudden I’m surrounded!! They can spot chocolate a mile away.
People in Havana spend most of their lives outside their tiny homes, which are often just a room with a bed and t-v. They walk the streets, arm in arm with friends, sitting on the walls that line the Malecon and the Prado, talking, laughing, dancing.
This winter, 2015, I will make my ninth trip to Cuba, this time to the Oriente in the East. We will land in Santiago and explore the countryside, the villages, and towns including Baracoa, where we will test the waters of the river that flows through the province.