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Cuba, First Impressions! – Part II

Cuba, First Impressions: Old & New – Part II

Cuba is an interesting blend of old and new.  The two things seem to go hand in hand.  I am sure there are some problems, but they appear to make it work.  Vintage and modern are in the back drop of just about everything.  The Cuban people have found a way to allow old and new to peacefully coexist.  Let me share some examples until you can see for yourself.  

New modern SUV in Cuba

New Nissan SUV in Cuba with a Classic Car in the background.

The old cars in Cuba are US made and the last cars that were imported from the US were sent back in the late 1950s.  The US under President Eisenhower began an embargo that still exists today.  These old cars run on leaded gasoline and have old emissions standards thus putting out a lot of pollution.  Today, in the US, we do not even sell leaded gas, we phased leaded gas out in the 1970’s.  These cars are the main contributors to the smog in Havana. Therefore de facto the US is indirectly contributing to the poor air quality in Cuba via the embargo.

Modern Reticulated Bus in Cuba

Reticulated bus in Cuba.

Where 2 buses connect

The connection point of 2 Buses


The surprise was seeing modern buses.  Cuba has reticulated buses.  Those are the 2 buses attached together like an accordion that you can find in large cities in the US.  Buses are a major part of the transportation for the Cuban People and are inexpensive.  Buses run regularly on a schedule and are plentiful.  Cuba also has very modern new cars such as BMWs, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, even Toyotas mixed in with the colorful Classic American Cars you see on the streets.  It is important to note that German manufacturers Mercedes Benz and BMW, like Japanese auto manufacturers Toyota and Lexus are not subject to the Cuban Embargo like the U.S. companies.  Just as Cuba has modern public buses the country has premium motor coaches used for tours along with many modern transport and work vans.

Older building with modern A/C unit.

Old building with modern A/C unit.

Older Building with ductless A/C unit in Cuba

Cuba has old buildings with amazing architecture.  The word on the street is that they look much better on the outside than on the inside.  Large mansion style homes have been divided into multi-family housing to meet the needs of the Cuban People.  The attention to detail cannot be overlooked and demand your appreciation. Which then calls into question what this country would look like had the US not imposed an embargo? Colorful buildings still stand today and rival the Classic cars roaming the streets.

Modern is some of the Cuban furniture.  The apartment we are staying in has very modern leather modular furniture in the living room.  It looks like it could have come from Ikea or Rooms to Go!  The pieces can be used together or separated and create different seating arrangements.  We saw very modern and chic furniture in Hotel Cuba Libre.  The lobby furniture and the rooms they rent to foreign guests is bold, ergonomic and stylish.

Modern modular leather furniture in Cuba

Modern modular leather furniture in the Airbnb we stayed in

Many buildings and houses do not have air conditioners.  The lack of air conditioning is a combination of island people not necessarily liking air, as well as the lack of availability at an affordable price or the ability to operate it at an affordable price.  We saw a great deal of A/C units in buildings, but few in homes.  The brand LG seems to have been very popular in Havana as far as A/C goes.  We even spotted many of the modern ductless A/C units.

Be sure to read, “Cuba, First Impressions“.  Available now on the Blog!

Cuban people also walk a lot.  It seems like much more than in the US.  They walk from place to place.  Young and old people both put foot to pavement and make their way around.  The shoes appear to be modern and in bright colors.  The area where we stayed had Adidas and Puma shoe stores, both European shoemakers.  We also meet local manufactures of leather shoes and even purchased a pair.

Something else old that caught my attention was children playing together outside.  Kids actually playing organized games.  Boys playing with balls.  Girls singing and playing together.  We did not see kids playing electronic or video games.  It was really refreshing.  The Cuban people have found a way to allow old and new to peacefully coexist.  I have shared some examples until you can see for yourself.  Go to Cuba!  See for yourself!

Base your feelings on your findings!

Don’t forget to watch our videos on Cuba on our YouTube Channel “Blacks Who Travel”.  There you will find additional information via Video Blog on Cuba.

YouTube Channel for Blacks Who Travel

Blacks Who Travel‘s YouTube Channel

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 28 different Countries mainly concentrated in the Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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