My first reaction to Havana was shock. Look right and it looked as though a bomb had gone off, look left and tourists were wandering down a beautifully restored Caribbean inspired Spanish colonial street. We spent the majority of our time in old Havana, which is the landscape you envision when you think of Cuba. However, there are 3 million people who live in this city and I have very few photos to show for the rest of the city. Only 3 days in the city forced us to focus our attention. 

My first view of Old Havana.  Looking right...

My first view of Old Havana.  Looking right...

Looking left... 

Looking left... 

Cubans have to be incredibly innovative with the resources they have and their lifestyle is sustainable by necessity.  Cars are a patchwork of parts, abandoned spaces have been repurposed and diverse cuisine derived from the same five available ingredients. I walked past people stitching up shoes and repainting bicycle wheels, ate banana chips from a paper cone that was previously an office form and patted dogs wearing baby shirts in place of collars. We found the Cuban people to be very proud of their country, and really in need of money and resources. The average Cuban makes $25 a month and only in 2010 did the government start allowing people to have their own businesses and the chance to make a bit more. Couple this with no access to information or literature and you start to sort of understand why Cubans might flee on a raft across the ocean. There's really no other way to leave. My hope for the Cuban people is that they can preserve and harness the rich,innovative and sustainable culture they've built over the last 60 years to lift them out of economic despondency. When the US embargo lifts and they are flooded with American brands and tourists will they be able to preserve the reason tourist want to come to their country in the first place (to go back in time) while still improving their livelihood? I'm rooting for them!!! 

Old Havana neighborhood street. 

Old Havana neighborhood street. 

Produce market near our casa. 

Produce market near our casa. 

Guayaba... which I think is Taro root in english. 

Guayaba... which I think is Taro root in english. 

Produce market price list

Produce market price list

When you're so into your soccer game that you don't care your shorts are about to fall off...

When you're so into your soccer game that you don't care your shorts are about to fall off...

The apple logo is everywhere in Cuba... but nobody actually has Apple products. It's perplexing. Also eggs? 

The apple logo is everywhere in Cuba... but nobody actually has Apple products. It's perplexing. Also eggs? 

Our lovely lovely host family in their home in Havana. Renee, Mary and Grandma... and of course José the pup!!! We ate breakfast with Grandma every morning and José provided lots of puppy snuggles. 

Our lovely lovely host family in their home in Havana. Renee, Mary and Grandma... and of course José the pup!!! We ate breakfast with Grandma every morning and José provided lots of puppy snuggles. 

Cheating on Lawna with José! 

Cheating on Lawna with José! 

Coti the parrot loves his guava treat in the morning and having whistling conversations with guests. 

Coti the parrot loves his guava treat in the morning and having whistling conversations with guests. 

The Casa we stayed in (which I think is fairly typical) was open air in the middle and had several rooms that opened to the central "courtyard" Plenty of fresh air for plants and drying laundry... and birds to just fly right on into your house. If it rained... it rained in your house. nbd. 

The Casa we stayed in (which I think is fairly typical) was open air in the middle and had several rooms that opened to the central "courtyard" Plenty of fresh air for plants and drying laundry... and birds to just fly right on into your house. If it rained... it rained in your house. nbd. 

I am assuming this used to be an American something in the 50's. Up the stairs is one of the fanciest and best restaurants in Havana. La Guarida... it's a must visit. 

I am assuming this used to be an American something in the 50's. Up the stairs is one of the fanciest and best restaurants in Havana. La Guarida... it's a must visit. 

Nice ride. 

Nice ride. 

Almost every car in Havana is a taxi. These cars are specific for taking tourists on tours of the city. Kudos to Cubans for keeping these babes on the road. 

Almost every car in Havana is a taxi. These cars are specific for taking tourists on tours of the city. Kudos to Cubans for keeping these babes on the road. 

Cuban bookstore... filled 100% with revolutionary propoganda books. 

Cuban bookstore... filled 100% with revolutionary propoganda books. 

In any open space without cars you'll find a soccer game happening... don't worry they'll just play around you. Capital building of Cuba in the background. 

In any open space without cars you'll find a soccer game happening... don't worry they'll just play around you. Capital building of Cuba in the background. 

School kids heading home 

School kids heading home 

Banana chips and what passes for to go packaging in Cuba. An old office form. They were super delicious. 

Banana chips and what passes for to go packaging in Cuba. An old office form. They were super delicious. 

This is Jodi! She's wearing a baby shirt so people will know she's not a stray. There's no collars in Cuba. Awwwww Jodi we love you. 

This is Jodi! She's wearing a baby shirt so people will know she's not a stray. There's no collars in Cuba. Awwwww Jodi we love you. 

Watch your step... Havana is under construction. 

Watch your step... Havana is under construction. 

The only wi-fi available in Cuba is at a central park in town. You'll know you've arrived when you see everybody on their phones. One hour of internet costs $2 and at least an hour wait in a line... or $3 illegally from a dude on the street. 

The only wi-fi available in Cuba is at a central park in town. You'll know you've arrived when you see everybody on their phones. One hour of internet costs $2 and at least an hour wait in a line... or $3 illegally from a dude on the street. 

Of course I have a million more photos but you gotta stop somewhere. Can't post them all. So if anybody wants to see a slideshow come find me! ha! 

It's actually fairly simple to go to Cuba legally now. Find a travel agent, fill out a visa form saying your are traveling for 'good will towards people' and off you go! It's pricey to get there but it's worth it. :)