Tuesday, March 7 (Day 7): Havana (day two of two):

Our first stop on today’s bus tour was an artists’ community called Jaimanitas, created out of mosaic tile. Jose Fuster was the artist who created the movement.  Our next stop was our choice of either the Revolution Museum or the Cuban Art Museum.  Matt and I chose the Revolution Museum, while MaryKay chose the Art Museum.  Matt’s Uncle Bill decided to rest today, rather than tour.

Havana’s population is 2 million.  The Cuban population as a whole is stable, but aging.  This is partly due to a lack of housing; multi-generational housing is common and many young people chose to work and live abroad, sending money home.  The three main religions are Catholicism, traditional African religion and even a small Jewish contingent.  Education is compulsory until ninth grade.  For those wishing to continue onto university the tuition and books are included in their taxes.  Men who are head of a household with children are required to work to provide for their families, those who don’t are taken to court and are ‘found jobs.’  The average wage in Cuba is $15 – $20 per month, up from $1 in the early 1990’s due in part to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was helping to subsidize Cuba.  While Cuba is certainly a Communist country, they still ration food and the government owns most large buildings and commerce, there are slivers of capitalism shining through.  As of about two years ago pay Wi-Fi hotspots started popping up, Cubans can now buy and sell residential real estate and some restaurants and small shops that sell handmade items can be privately owned.

It should be noted that currently in order for Americans to visit Cuba, it must be part of a cultural exchange program and include a full schedule of educational activities.  Our tour was coordinated by the cruise line via People To People, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.

The Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis and Canada spearheaded the efforts to begin to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.  For Americans, in addition to a fair amount of cash (you won’t be able to use any form of electronic payment or ATMs), you’ll also want to bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer as public restrooms aren’t up to a Western standard.  In December of 2015 the United States opened the U.S. Embassy in Havana.  Both days in Havana we enjoyed beautiful weather.

This evening after a leisurely dinner and the Latin dance show, which was excellent, we attended Karaoke.  Matt sung several songs, including one with his Uncle Bill.  Matt scored the highest of all the singers.

Jaimanitas from above

Jaimanitas from above

Jaimanitas Pool Area Aerial Photo

Jaimanitas Pool Area

Jaimanitas Palm Tree with MaryKay

Jaimanitas statue with MaryKay

Jaimanitas Matt and Jared with Statue

Jaimanitas Statue with Matt and Jared

Revolution Museum Great Hall

Revolution Museum Great Hall

Revolution Museum Rotunda

Revolution Museum Dome

Revolution Museum President's Office

Revolution Museum President’s Office

Revolution Museum Fighter Plane 3

Revolution Museum Fighter Plane

Havana skyline with crains

Havana skyline with craines

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