Meyer Lansky’s revenge

Or maybe Batista’s revenge.  Whatever.  I came down with a case of the tourista last night, and although the major symptoms seem to have passed, I have less energy than Enron after the crash, and wasn’t about to go with the group today, starting with a 2 1/2 drive in a bus with no 0n-board toilet.  Gail went to breakfast this morning and came back with Motrin–that’s the benefit of travelling with a trio of yentas, a full supply of Jewish mothering available 24/7.

Still, it seems like an observant person would have something to say, so here goes:

Our room is on the 21st floor, looking to the North East.  I mostly see the Atlantic ocean, but also the city and the mouth of the harbor. The city fortress is in the distance, guarding the other side of the harbor entrance.

What strikes me is that I see no vibrance, no vitality. No traffic.  No aircraft flitting overhead, no ships entering and leaving the docks.  We are in a luxury hotel, but I see tourists, not business men.  There is no hustle, no bustle. Just nothing.  For a city of 2.5 million, this place is dead, quieter than Turlock on a rainy Tuesday night.

By many standards, this is a successful communist country–everyone has a job, everyone eats, literacy is 97%, the streets are safe at night.  But that isn’t enough, clearly.

Some of the fault for this lies with the US and our continued embargo.  Our guide pointed out that we have normalized relations with Vietnam, although 55,000 American died there.  How many Americans have died in battle against Cuba?

Instead of stepping up to the plate and admitting the embargo is wrong and we’re giving it up, our government seems to be very slowly letting bits and pieces of it fall away.  Our trip is one such example: if you know the right travel agency, you can get a visa.  If you don’t, just go through Cancun or Toronto.  Our room has a Hamilton-Beach coffee maker.  The maids carts are Rubbermaid.  There was genuine Tabasco sauce on the dinner table.  Booksellers in the square keep their merchandise in Old Orchard Apple boxes, because it is legal to ship apples and corn and some other foodstuffs to Cuba. (It pays to have the right lobby, I guess)

Well, that’s a deep and witty as I can be right now.  Think I’ll take a nap.  When Gail gets back, I can tell you all about the things I missed today.

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