Something strange happens when you get on a bike and ride in Cuba. The wheels go around and the kilometers pass by the sun beats down and you drink warm water from plastic bottles. That is the same. Then you find yourself on a motorway sharing the inside lane with horse-drawn carriages and Rapidly moving stout iron bicycles pushed forward by strongman who always turn and smile at you as they move past
Cuba is about people; all 11 million of them who share a world that is magnificent and inspirational but also very depressing. As you pedal along you become aware that there is very little traffic and under each bridge there waits a group of people waiting for a converted lorry to arrive so they can clamber aboard to stand and sway their way home. You see large American cars all at least 20 years old highly polished and sparkling with the pride of the owner.
This is not your world you pedal on and come to a crossroads and find a small shack selling very tasty mini pizzas you pay what seems like nothing and follow with ice cream you drink more water. You pedal on, at dusk you come to the village and there you’ll find bed-and-breakfast but bed-and-breakfast in a house that is run and administered partly by the state so the owner look who gives you great warmth and friendliness provides a service only because as a foreigner you are not allowed to camp or perhaps even visit a private house
But if you do, cross the line into their private world you find wonderful warmth and friendliness and a caring for yourself and each other that is magnificent why then is a depressing because life is held together with a shoestring if there are rich people they are well hidden the majority of people somehow live on perhaps $20 a month or less the state provides free education free healthcare but what if you want to buy a new pair of Nike shoes or surf the Internet or do many other things which we each take as a natural part of life what you want to travel to a foreign country how could actually do that with $20 a month. These are the thoughts you have is your peddle down the road wonderful country wonderful people very hot sun. You ride and smile but still you wonder when will the future arrive and what will it look like
but now there is talk of a new economic policy but as far as the television says this will be achieved through increased discipline efficiency and better planning.
I ask my Cuban friends what they see in the future and both together they say more of the same nothing will change. There you have it; everybody wants to find a new future but nobody has a vision of how that future will arrive and what the future will look like. Certainly they survive by working just a little bit outside of the system and they smile and laugh over a glass of rum. Cubans are all very proud of their country and patriotic a lot of effort went into building their revolution and the relationships and a caring attitude they all show each other is a wonderful testimony. it is the future that is the big unknown. Presently a lot of effort has been put into encouraging the development of the tourist industry but that has unfortunate consequences because it only provides great benefits to one group and worse still it turns tourists into special people with special privileges that are not shared by all Cubans. For example hotel beaches etc which are only open to tourists. Doctors and teachers who give up their profession because they can earn three or four times as much as tour guides
so without losing the good things of the revolution now it is time for all Cuba to pedal down a new road.