Miamians "mourn" the death of Castro. Palm Beach Post
Readability

The Hell Below

by baldilocks

[cap­tion id=“attachment_93188” align=“aligncenter” width=“300”]Miamians "mourn" the death of Castro. Palm Beach Post Miami responds to the news of Castro’s death. Palm Beach Post[/​caption]

Below Florida, that is. Michael Tot­ten doc­u­ments his visit to Castro’s Cuba:

I had to lie to get into the coun­try. Cus­toms and immi­gra­tion offi­cials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí Inter­na­tional Air­port would have evicted me had they known I was a jour­nal­ist. But not even a total-​surveillance police state can keep track of every­thing and every­one all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a vic­tory. Havana, the cap­i­tal, is clean and safe, but there’s noth­ing to buy. It feels less nat­ural and organic than any city I’ve ever vis­ited. Ini­tially, I found Havana pleas­ant, partly because I wasn’t sup­posed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had jour­neyed back­ward in time. But the city wasn’t pleas­ant for long, and it cer­tainly isn’t pleas­ant for the peo­ple liv­ing there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

Out­side its small tourist sec­tor, the rest of the city looks as though it suf­fered a cat­a­stro­phe on the scale of Hur­ri­cane Kat­rina or the Indone­sian tsunami. Roofs have col­lapsed. Walls are split­ting apart. Win­dow glass is miss­ing. Paint has long van­ished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of auto­mo­bile traf­fic. I walked for miles through an enor­mous swath of destruc­tion with­out see­ing a sin­gle tourist. Most for­eign­ers don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city — tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriv­ing from the air­port. It is filled with peo­ple strug­gling to eke out a life in the ruins.

It’s one of those “read the whole thing” kind of essays and now I feel whiny for com­plain­ing about my land­lords.

After I fin­ished Michael’s superla­tive trav­el­ogue, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the United States of Amer­ica. Descrip­tions of total­i­tar­ian feces holes, espe­cially one so near, tend to remind this first-​generation Amer­i­can of her blessings.

Also, don’t for­get this.

One more thing: pray for the peo­ple in Ten­nessee.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel will be done one day soon! Fol­low her on Twit­ter.

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s JOB: Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism!

baldilocks

by baldilocks

Miamians "mourn" the death of Castro. Palm Beach Post
Miami responds to the news of Castro’s death. Palm Beach Post

Below Florida, that is. Michael Totten documents his visit to Castro’s Cuba:

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

It’s one of those “read the whole thing” kind of essays and now I feel whiny for complaining about my landlords.

After I finished Michael’s superlative travelogue, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the United States of America. Descriptions of totalitarian feces holes, especially one so near, tend to remind this first-generation American of her blessings.

Also, don’t forget this.

One more thing: pray for the people in Tennessee.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

baldilocks