Cuban Life

In 1989 the collapse of the Soviet Bloc meant Cuba lost about 80% of its trade and in 1992 the US tightened its trade embargo so Cuba stumbled into the 'Special Period'. At times all people had to live on was sugar and water. Rumours or true stories include CDR meetings being called to stop people eating neighbourhood cats and dogs to street vendors using melted condoms instead of cheese on pizzas.
Now it is hard to buy stuff, but no-one starves – the poor have ration cards (hence the queue here to get food)

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Those with money can buy very cheap cake and pizza; many are not exactly slim.
Now anyone can let a room or be a taxi driver, so there is the possibility of earning some money for most of the population.
The country has 2 currencies with a fixed exchange rate and tourists pay up to 25x more than a local. We stayed in a local apartment and as most people leave their front doors open when they are in we are aware that our apartment was quite luxurious. No hot water tap in the kitchen, no sink plugs, but a hot shower.

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This really was a kitchen utensil shop

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Salsa bands are everywhere

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all Cubans seem to be born salsa dancing. There are no advertisements/billboards anywhere. TV is just a few channels with no ads. Portrayal of US life is oftendepressive. Most programmes are about local life. A favourite pastime is just to look out of the window although proper glass may be missing.

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Cubans regularly buy fresh flowers from any one of a number of street vendors.

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