Monday, December 17, 2012

Havana, Cuba I

We are finally sharing photos from our trip to Cuba earlier this year (though we've given you a sampling with our recent Cuba calendar)! It’s a lot harder to blog our travels when we have another full time job/blog. We have so many photos we want to share from Cuba, and we plan to do that here. Better late than never, right?

Cuba is such an interesting country and unlike any other place we’ve ever visited. The history and culture doesn’t compare to anything we’ve seen. To our parents, our stories of Cuba reminded them of the Communist Soviet Union they grew up in… which isn’t exactly a good thing. Life in Ukraine was hard for our families, which is why they moved to the US when we were both really young. It’s been over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and though things aren’t perfect, they’ve gotten a lot better. In Cuba, the people are still waiting for a change. The way of life and government seems prehistoric. It’s incredible that a country so close to the United States can be so different.

Cuba has been under the rule of the same old dude (and recently his brother) for over 50 years. It became a Communist country modeled after the USSR and had a strong Russian presence for a few decades. Also for over 50 years, Cuba and the United States have had a no-trade embargo. That means nothing comes in and nothing goes out between the US and Cuba. Everything in Cuba is old and reused, and they’ve excelled at being a self-sustaining country. It’s incredible how they can make the same cars last for 50 years. The United States continues an embargo against Cuba "so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights."

We feel like Cuba is on the brink of change and keep seeing that in the media. Just in the last few years the Cuban government has allowed people to open their own businesses (prior to this, absolutely everything was government run and regulated). Obama has loosened some laws that allow Cubans to travel between the US and Cuba to visit family. The old man Fidel is getting up there in age, and something’s gotta give. Yuriy and I really wanted to visit Cuba before it changes and opens up to the US… before McDonalds, Starbucks, and the Hilton rush into Cuba and commercialize it. We feel so fortunate to have experienced Cuba in all it’s rustic beauty and really treasure the photos we brought home from it.

We’ll be sharing posts from Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad in the coming weeks, so come back to see more.

- Julia

*** If you haven’t ordered a Cuba calendar yet, do so by the end of tomorrow to get one before Christmas! (if you’re in the US)