Real Time Cuban Socialism can be seen in public spaces all around town. In one sentence I would describe Real Time Cuban Socialism is, people helping people. Similar to New York, Havana is a pedestrian city, or as one fellow from Canada commented to me at the end of his first visit, “I have walked my feet off!”. Well yes my friend, I too have been walking everywhere.
On a daily basis I walk from the casa particular where I am staying in Centro Habana to my favorite Wifi connection in Habana Vieja. Then from Monday through Friday, my route includes a walk from my class near the Universidad de La Habana in Vedado, back to the casa particular in Centro. So on any given day I walk in excess of two miles, which in addition to being great exercise, walking everywhere has allowed me to readily observe Real Time Cuban Socialism in public spaces.
Por ejemplo, Yo vi:
A) People in clinic waiting rooms getting health care. No one looks disturbed because they are not waiting in vain for insurance authorizations. Free health care is real and very much alive in Cuba.
B) Nurses leaving the pharmacy, with patient prescriptions in hand. Can you imagine, a nurse in full uniform filling your prescription when you are under the weather?
C) Medical interns and doctors escorting patients between hospital buildings. Yes, that is right, doctors.
D) Raggedy-ass wheel barrels full of fresh vegetables, for sale on the corner in inner city neighborhoods. There appears to be no food deserts here. How about that for free trade!
E) Drivers yielding to pedestrians, bicycle taxis and animals crossing the street. Beep, beep, beep!
F) Random acts of kindness, Cuban Style. Even for me as a visitor, many people have been extremely helpful, whether with directions, ensuring my comfort or by making sure that I know where and how to get the best savings deal. People have made sure that I feel welcomed, safe and secure.
However the most remarkable experience thus far were the crowds that I encountered at the book fair, Feria del Libro, Habana 2012. So many people were trying to enter, that I stepped back because I was worried about a stampede. Yet there was no need to fret, because within minutes security forces were on the scene to “politely” organize the crowd, so that all who wanted to enter or exit the grounds were able to do so without incident. Once inside the fair, there were long lines of people queuing up to buy books. Yep, lines to purchase books! To be bought in CUC, and CUP. Stateside, the only time that I have ever seen these kinds of crowds were for entrance into music concerts or sports events.
Oh my goodness, WOW…There is so much to be learned.
Muy bien! So until next time, mis amigos…