The reality of life in Havana.

Public transport – buses:

I’ve had to deal with some fairly arduous bus journeys over the years but few compare with todays adventure. Bus travel in Havana is not for the faint hearted. I have never experienced such crowded public transport in my life. Squashed into a dilapidated bus with three times as many people as would normally be deemed acceptable, I found it an experience that went way beyond my comfort zone.

To make matters worse – I boarded the wrong bus. Initially I’d hoped it would do a loop and deliver me back to where we started, but it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to happen as quickly as I needed it to. After a number of failed attempts I finally managed to force my way to the double doors and get off. I did eventually find another bus, equally packed, that was heading back to where I had originally started. Suffice to say, I will never use the local bus in Havana ever again.

The challenges of finding food:

Trying to find a decent restaurant for an evening meal is hard enough, finding somewhere for breakfast is proving impossible. I have thankfully found a decent bakery so, when possible, I buy some pastries to help bolster my energy levels, at least until lunchtime.

A crumbling city:

For the most part, Havana is a city crumbling in front of your very eyes. I went to the railway museum today but (like so many other small museums in Havana) it was ‘closed for repairs’. The gentleman who was guarding the entrance explained that the building wasn’t safe to enter as they were waiting for funds to carry out much-needed repairs before they could open again. He apologised profusely and went on to tell me about life in Cuba. He accepted that Cuba has its challenges but was quick to point out four things that he was obviously very proud of:

  1. Fidel Castro.
  2. The fact that everybody in Cuba has access to free medical care.
  3. That there is free schooling, including university, for everybody.
  4. Finally, that children are sacred – it’s safe for them to play in the street anytime day or night.

Despite his positiveness, I shall be glad to leave Havana – 5 days is enough.

Next stage: Spectacular Viñales.

About Richard Griffith

My first independent travel experience was a trip to Israel, in 1997, it was here that I caught the 'travel' bug! In 2001 I took an 8-month sabbatical and traveled around South East Asia. Since then I have managed to visit most of Eastern Europe along with India, Bangladesh, and a few other destinations in between. I love travel and I love meeting new people.
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