News from Cuba – Update #2

Greetings to all from Havana!

Looks like our group is in good spirits, and today the group will arrive in Las Terrazas, where a community focusing on sustainable development and tourism is located. We know you’re eager to hear often from our travelers, however communication with folks outside of Cuba has proven challenging with long lines and slow internet speeds, so enjoy this update fresh from Cuba!

Thanks to those of you who were kind enough to share the news of the easing of travel restrictions for Americans who wish to visit Cuba.  Very timely. We first found out about it by reading Granma, the party-line paper that the Cuban government puts out (in Spanish, of course) and it might have been a wee bit slanted… but the facts are the facts.  We are happy to know that we’re once again rather on the cutting edge.

Granma reported that friendship between the peoples of Cuba and those of the USA has long been strong.  We are certainly experiencing that firsthand.  People are very friendly, kind, and curious. In general, this city seems very humane.  I continue to do double takes when about to cross a busy street and the drivers pull to a stop to allow our group passage!

We are fulfilling our research mission.  At this point we have videotaped five or six in-depth interviews with Cubans and have completed dozens of ethnographic field notes.  Meanwhile, we are visiting many different people and facilities in Havana that are on the cutting edge of sustainable living. For example, we saw some rooftop gardens that are acting as demonstration and education sites to promote urban agriculture.  We toured a large (22-acre) farm within the city that grows lots of organic vegetables for local consumption. We visited a huge scale model of Havana that serves as a training site for architects and urban planners focusing on sustainable cities.  And as I write, students are off documenting some traffic patterns that contribute to the liveability of Havana.

(I might mention that all this touring around has been facilitated by a certain cabbie named Ramon, who has the coolest ride in Cuba… see just how cool in our photos.)

Unfortunately, the internet is a rare phenomenon here, and I have only a little bit of time on this terminal, for which many people are waiting. All in all we have been eating well, getting along well, and learning lots and lots.  It has been nice staying in one place for awhile and getting to know the neighborhood.  Tomorrow we leave the city for more adventures; we will seek other internet options soon.

Take care, everyone, and thanks much for your support.

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