Well … The Kid (my nickname for Justin Trudeau) has finally pissed off more than a few people. His praise for the now deceased Fidel Castro as a ‘Legendary Revolutionary’, was not well received by many.
I would probably agree with most of them had I not ever been to Cuba. However having been there several times I know somewhat more than what most people assume about Cuba.
A tour guide on an all day jeep tour I signed on for, let me pick his brain while he picked mine, on Canada. I was merciless in my questions. My thirst for wanting to understand how a country lives and thrives is fuel for my curiosity about how other people tend to their daily lives.
I came away from this, and my experiences in Cuba, with a newfound understanding of a different culture. It is not necessary, nor should it be, that we all (humankind) be homogenous, sharing the same values and views on who and what we should be.. and how we should live.
The obvious is there to see, they don’t have modern homes, television is censored, no Kardashians here (thank god). The internet is very limited if they get a connection at all (doubtful), cell phones scarce, and Dry goods are hard to come by. Toiletries, hard to find and even paper, oh.. and forget about ketchup, bring your own.
By our standards they are poor, we are on vacation in their country, which ironically, they never get to leave.. ever! Things we take for granted like peanut butter, soft toilet paper, ketchup, soft beds .. even pillows and towels are scarce to not available here. (well they do have toilet paper.. thank goodness, because there are no facecloths either)
Everywhere I go the people are friendly and accommodating. They never have their hand out for a tip and there are no beggars. (this was not the case in Trinidad though) I love these laid back people that smile and wave at you as they go about their daily chores.
Everyone has a job in Cuba and a place to live. They all get the same wages.. a doctor is paid the same as a gardener. Tipping should be distributed among staff, as they all work together towards making our vacation a great experience.
Cubans enjoy free health care and doctors are required to make house calls and encourage healthy living practices. Dental is also free and attainable. Everyone in Cuba is educated and when finished high school, required to do two years of military service unless you opt for university, which is free.
The choosing of what courses you take are limited, to maybe four or five vocations .. depending on what the country needs at that particular time. The arts are alive and well and thriving ! Cuba invests heavily in the arts and they have an abundance of talented artists and entertainers.
Cuba does not have a crime and violence problem.. woman are all equal and paid the same as men. They certainly don’t have to worry about their kids getting addicted to drugs.. alcohol maybe.
They are not free.. true.. but they are also not a broken down, uneducated, out of work and unhealthy masses of people. They are mostly happy and they have a purpose.. they live for today. Their families are close and their kids are happy too, they work together and play together.
I asked my friend, the tour guide.. “what about your kids future, what hopes do you have for them?” ” What future”, he says.. “there is no future, we cannot leave this country and we cannot own anything” (that has changed, in the last two years).
“We live today, if we want to celebrate something or take the afternoon off.. we do!” “We just live each day and that is all we can hope for.” He said this in a very mater of fact way.
They do not chase after more stuff (there isn’t any) nor are they addicted to cell phones, drugs, reality shows or shopping.
I sometimes wonder about all this.. who is better off, those that live each day in the moment and are content with their lot, or those of us chasing our elusive happiness.. for whatever it is we think we need or lust after.
I am just stating a point of view here from my travels in Cuba.
There are many countries that suppress women, deny education and do not provide free health care, much less a job and housing. Cuba is not one of them.