Cuba is called a human experiment - a tiny Marxist island in an overwhelmingly democratic continent. Has it succeeded or failed? With their constant material shortages, lack of freedom of expression, dumbed down populace due to censorship, "success" doesn't quite fit. Nor does "failure." Cuba's beautiful, friendly, close knit people have ingenious survival skills. Its literacy rate is admirable (although probably overrated and under utilized). Its health care system is often touted. You don't see homeless people on the streets.


Cubans come in all colors--black African brought as slaves to work sugar cane plantations to white of mostly Spanish origin-and everything in between. Cuban nationality includes many strong ethnicities.

The ever present cigar is Cuba's best known export.

Isn't there a law against this? Evidently, not in Cuba.

Although the elderly tend to be more picturesque, the young are irresistible. The boy at right is celebrating St. Nicholas Day. Castro outlawed Christmas in the '60s, but a few visits from the Pope brought it back. Decorations are evident through January.

Cubanos love their music. It's everywhere--on the streets, in stores, pubs and bistros and especially Casa de Trovas and Casa de Musicas in cities.

If not making music, dominoes is the next best pastime, evidenced by the pipe smoker at right.

Baracoa's indigenous Indian population still promulgates basic features: short in stature, olive-brown skinned with square faces. The Taino Indians were the ones Columbus met when he found the island.


Cuban transportation comes in all colors and all flavors. All too many of the mechanical means of transport burn nearly as much oil as fuel. I was convinced I would get black lung if I spent much time in cities. Emission standards are very low in Cuba. In fact, I seriously doubt the concept has been introduced. At least the pollution keeps the mosquito population down, I was told.
The adjustment process started on the trip to Cuba from France on the Aviacion de Cubana plane, a Russian Il Yushin-96-300. Googled description: "The IL-96 is a long-haul widebody airliner developed from the Il-86, 1988". A number of seats were broken. We were given ear phones, but no channels played, nor were videos offered during the 11-hour flight. The food showed no evidence of having departed from France - stewed, stringy beef for lunch with no wine (due to some sort of crisis), although you could buy wine later. A ham/salami/cheese sandwich was handed out before landing. The flight was booked as direct, but we stopped in Santa Clara where passengers got off and on. Anyway, we got there.


Otherwise, propaganda like this tells youth to do the right thing with study, work and weapons.
Nealy all signs are Castro centered. This graffiti is rare and noticeable only in Holguin.


All photos by Linda Quinet

For more on Linda's Trippin, go to:

– as published in Romar Traveler online magazine