What price equality?

Every colonial building in La Habana is a potential gem, but sadly, only some of them have been restored to their former glory. A work in progress….. But occasionally you come across something so exceptional, it stops you in your tracks. In the courtyard of one such building I was stopped in my tracks by this exceptional marble carving of a mother and her child

….and seen from above, the expression on the child’s face tells its own story of their close relationship…

IMG_20180121_153816037_HDR

On my way out of La Habana, returning to my casa, I prepared to do battle with the queues for the bus….it is a chaotic experience, and those who survive it have to be battle-hardened. I approached the queue and asked ¿el último?….who’s the last?

A gentleman told me he was at the head of the queue, but told me to stand next to him….I was puzzled at first, but we got talking. I gained his confidence, and he slowly gained mine. When I asked eventually what he did for a living, astonishingly he told me he was a cardiologist, but he had a second job supervising infants in a nursery…..I was struggling to fully appreciate what he was telling me.

One of the few people I’ve heard say anything negative about Cuba, he told me that he was not allowed to earn more than $50 per month, and that the average wage for most people was $15-20 per month. It was then I understood why he was fighting the unruly queues to squeeze into the state-subsidised buses……but even more astonishingly, he slipped me the 40 centavos (2p) for the fare, got me into the bus, and grabbed a seat for me. Quite bewildering, really…..

And before I leave Cuba, I wonder if anyone could enlighten me why the Irishman O’Reilly should be honoured with a street name? On a plaque it said “Two island peoples in the same sea of struggle and hope: Cuba and Ireland”.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 22, 2018, in Cycling Cuba and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. in the late 1980’s early 90’s I know of Polish doctors who gave up health care to work in a Bingo hall as it paid more money. These doctors told me that in former times it was more financially rewarding to work in a factory than to be a doctor. At least 2 that I knew would use their holiday time to travel and work in the Netherlands to get enough money to survive in their chose profession. I suppose their is no politically good system that helps everyone – not at present anyway. That marble statue is beautiful

    • In Cuba, if they want to earn hard currency (ie. convertible pesos which are tied to the dollar exchange rate) they have to work in tourism, so every family tries to make sure that at least one member is in tourism.

  2. Frank – just read your fascinating Cuba blog feed. Sounds an amazing and eye-opening journey. Some great pics too and loved to hear the stories of the locals you met along the way. Really great blog stuff.

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