In the Wake of Fidel Castro

by Aysha Griffin on December 4, 2016

Fidel Castro's death

the only “homage” to the man who passed away that I’ve seen in Havana.

What is a trip to Havana without music, dancing and mojitos? My group of 11 U.S. travelers and I were about to find out. The Cuban government, which controls most aspects of everyone’s life, declared that there woulld be no music, no dancing, no alcohol and all public events would be cancelled for 9 days to honor the death of Fidel Castro.

While most Cubans must at least pretend they are sad – and all government workers were “suggested” thay attend a rally in Plaza de La Revolución and sign a recommitment to the communist party – many serepitiously admit they are greatly relieved and share with their countrymen-in-exile’s a desire to celebrate “the man who passed away.”

For many months I’d planned an extensive itinerary that would include music and dancing, drinking and partying Cuban-style. At the last minute, my coordinator on the ground, Ruby Aguilar, and I scrambled to rearrange our 8 days and offer different activities amid the somber atmosphere.

Surprisingly, there was little evidence of this mourning, besides the unusual quiet in the streets. Thinking we’d have no access to alcohol, some of bought bottles in our ship-though luggage. But tourist hotels like Ambos Mundos (of Hemingway fame), the Nacional Hotel and others were not about to miss out on additional revenue or bad vibes by denying tourists their mojitos, cerveza and wine. We’ve been drinking. Perhaps more than normal to compensate for this time of austerity and false mourning.

American cars in Cuba

some of my wonderful American ‘journeyers’ in a 1950’s classic American car, one of our taxis.

As of tomorrow, December 5th, 2016, many conjecture there will be a giant party to ‘let loose’ all this pent-up nergy. We shall see. But one thing we’ve already seen is a huge increase in the number of tourists. Airport lines for immigration and customes (Aduana) were absurd and the streets of Habana Vieja are more crowded than ever with foreign wanderers… us among them.

Stay tuned for more.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

judith fein December 5, 2016 at 2:33 am

i am hanging on every word you write!!!!

Michael Wright December 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Buena suerte. Thanks for the inside perspective. I’ve only seen the televised street interviews with people declaring undying love for the man. Interesting phenom these days with the charismatic leaders, eh? I love the line from Fiddler, “God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us.”

Stormy December 6, 2016 at 2:47 am

Celebrate life wherever you find it. Power to the Cubanos!

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