Cuba might still be the most interesting place I have been, and is certainly the most common recommendation I give to travelers who have still yet to land upon its shores. It instantly makes you aware of how similar disparate places around the world have become. How standard hotel rooms are, how familiar restaurant menus look, and how perplexing it is that everyone has chosen the same imperfect capitalist system to increase the quality of life in their country.
Rosa was Fidel Castro’s primary Spanish-Russian translator. The revolution had sent her to study Russian in Moscow, and she had studied diligently. She would claim with a smile that McNamara, always wanted to see her Spanish translation converted into English, so he could see how she was interpreting issues. She had served Castro during the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and relayed the whole incident with the drama of a Mexican soap opera.
The malecon (the sea wall) is Havana’s bar, restaurant and source of entertainment. As the work day ends, and the sunset lights the sky, the city migrates to the seawall to drink rum, fish, talk stories, and play music. This was the only place Pancho ever wanted to live, because besides the fishing, he loved it all.
In fact, Rigo told us everyone had a side hustle in Havana. Everyone went to work for the government during the day, but at night sold beans out of their backdoor, cut hair on their terrace, or taught salsa to tourists. It was this shadow economy that kept the island running.