Introduction to Living in Cuba

Downtown Habana during the day is alive with energy,

History

In 1492, Christopher Columbus called Cuba, “the most beautiful land that human eyes have seen.” [1] Indeed, the island-nation located just 90-miles from US shores offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes, incredible architecture and unique sites in the world.  As the tourism billboards state as you exit the airport in Havana “Welcome to Cuba, where past meets present.”  This slogan accurately summarizes the experience of life in Cuba, where you enjoy natural beauty and experience daily life with 21st century world issues simultaneously while riding in 1950’s automobiles and walking past buildings dating to the 18th century.

A little information on the island itself: the 16 provinces of Cuba cover an area of 42,827 square miles and is 776 miles long. (As a point of reference, Cuba could fit into the state of Minnesota 2.5 times).  The island has 3 mountain groups and the highest point, Pico Real de Turquino, reaches 1974 meters (almost 40 laps of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.)  The country has an average annual rainfall of 54 inches and an average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the island is home to a number of unique indigenous plant and animal species, has topography ranging from farmland to mountains, and, as an island, has an abundance of breathtaking beaches.[2]

Each province in Cuba, while maintaining a strong sense of national pride and dedication to the patria, also enjoys strong and unique regional traditions and popular culture based on their individual role in the islands history and basic demographic and geographic differences.   Cuba and its history involves much more than the small area surrounding the capital in Habana. It is therefore important to understand the cultural and social differences of the other provinces in order to fully understand Cuba and Cubans today.

Blog Topics

In “Living in Cuba” I will discuss some of the pros and cons of daily life in Cuba today from my perspective as a young North American, unique aspects of daily survival that I find unique and think we should study and learn from, and the historic significance of some of the the different provinces, cities, geography and landscapes as they pertain to the formation of Cuban culture.

Author’s Objectives

If this category seems to be a bit more “miscellaneous” in focus, that was my intention.  While many other categories have very specific foci, I wanted a forum to explore basic aspects of daily life here that I observe that are not easily defined yet still serve an important function in Cuban life and popular culture.  If I am able to better-define this category and these observations as time goes on I will gladly do so.

A 2-hour drive and a world away from the nation's capital, Viñales in Pinar del Rio offers tranquil beauty and a different pace in daily life.

Suggestions

To my readers:  Having read the introduction for this blog category, if you have a relevant topic or event that you would like to learn more about, please mention it in the ‘COMMENTS’ section of this page.  (Even if it is not in Habana, I am happy to travel to the other provinces for a good story!) I will do my best to research and write on all suggested topics.

Notes:

[1] Puig Pernas, Yareira, Me gusta hablar Español, (la habana, CENDA, 2008),

28.

[2] ibid.