Cubans are great at recycling, reusing, repurposing and modifying objects to extend their usefulness. The limited availability of resources caused by both the communist state policies and US embargo have forced their frugality and ingenuity. This was especially true when the Soviet Union collapsed, causing the 1990s Special Period when extreme rationing occurred.
This hardship-induced resourcefulness has had a positive consequence of lower waste levels, reducing environmental pollution.
Following are some of the examples of frugality and ingenuity Rocío and I saw on our Cuba trip. Continue reading →
Shopping in Cuba involves buying what is available, not what one desires. Stores have limited variety, especially those aimed at Cubans. An extreme example of this was the bakery Rocío and I saw selling only one line of bread. Continue reading →
Havana graffiti proclaiming Viva CDR 28 (Long Live CDR 28)
Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (Comités de Defensa de la Revolución), otherwise known as CDR, exist in every Cuban neighbourhood. Established on 28 September 1960, less than a year after the Cuban Revolution, the volunteer-run committees monitor and report on counter-revolutionary activity and promote social welfare. Stephen Smith’s Cuba: The Land Of Miracles quotes a BBC reporter aptly describing the CDR as “a cross between the neighbourhood watch and the Gestapo”.
During our visit, Rocío and I witnessed many CDR references throughout the island. Continue reading →
The Neo-Mudéjar Ursulinas Palace (Palacio de las Ursulinas) building in Old Havana (Habana Vieja)
To my untrained eye, Havana’s buildings were special. To architect Rocío’s, they were inspiring. Interesting buildings or aspects of buildings appeared around almost every corner and this blog post documents a tiny proportion of them. Continue reading →
The architectural styles, history and condition of Cuba’s buildings and objects, particularly in Havana, inspired architect Rocío. She loved the facades, iron work, cornices, balconies, tiles, door knockers, stairs and, especially, the doors. Continue reading →
Havana’s historical richness and post-revolution politics and economics have combined to provide an unprecedented amount and variety of buildings in original condition, including their wall and floor ceramics.
Following are some of many examples we saw of Havana’s old tiles:
Tourist couple in classic convertible hire car driving past El Capitolio
It maybe stereotypical but it’s true, Havana is full of classic United States cars from the 1950s and earlier. Historic economic and political anomalies led to Havana (and Cuba as a whole) being the best place in the world for such vehicles. Cubans can’t import auto-mobiles privately so they do everything they can to keep their old cars running.