Havana felt like my childhood.
2016 was an important year for Cuba. Warming relations with the United States, Fidel Castro's Death. It was also the year I travelled there. You could see there is something changing, modern cars are starting to dominate the streets, and that those could be last years of Cuba in this form. We'll see.
In Havana I stayed with two different local families, which was probably most cost-friendly and interesting option. Both of them lived in Centro Habana neighbourhood. In opposition to touristic and overpacked Old Havana (Habana Vieja) this sector allowed me to be a witness of regular life of Cubans, which I was really curious about. Staying with the families gave me an extra acces to see their life up close and from the inside.
The city itself is simply amazing, although heavily damaged! I was surprised by its size, looks like many different cities combined into one. At times I felt like I was in a colonial town, then as if I was walking down Wall Street in New York, just a few blocks more and I was somewhere in Europe, then I moved back in time to my native Poland modernist period. I discovered many connections between those two countries.
In many ways Havana felt like my childhood in Poland. I grew up during the transition from communism to capitalism, where the last years of communism were really difficult. I don't remember that part, I know it from my grandparents tales - waiting in huge lines for hours, empty shelves. But for me those were mostly good memories. When the streets used to be so alive and full of people. The time when we played in front of our houses with friends, and our parents/grandparents, were watching over us through the window or from the nearby bench, while having a chat. When people tend to connect more and we weren’t hiding behind the walls and mobile devices.
In Havana the majority of restored, vintage cars with shining paint serve as taxi cabs for tourists, while beat up versions are taxi cabs for the locals.
Access to the internet is limited in Cuba. There are only certain spots in Havana where you can connect via wifi, after buying special card in quiosco (kiosk). You can connect only for limited number of hours per week.
Example of brutalist architecture - Embassy of Russia (formerly Soviet) in Havana.