As my last stop in Latin American countries, I visited Cuba.
Cuba is a unique country in many ways. Where else can’t you buy a Coke or eat in a McDonald’s? Probably not in many countries.
The streets are devoid of adverts, and in their place there are all kinds of propaganda and political slogans, some of them quite curious. All this is also a drag for tourists: you can visit the Museum of the Revolution, Che Guevara’s mausoleum, the sites of major battles during the revolution, etc.
The country is experiencing major changes at a fast pace. Even though most Cubans continue to work for the public sector, an increasing number are self-employed. It takes going there and speaking to them to realise the effort they have to do to make ends meet, with average salaries around 20 US$ per month. They are real survivors. Education and health care are good quality and provided for free. Even people on menial jobs are often educated.
If you go to Cuba, the best option for accommodation are licensed “casas particulares” (homestays), where I stayed every night. I was told by Spanish tourists that hotels are generally substandard and overpriced. These private homes are always good, in good condition, they offer an excellent breakfast and sometimes a tasty dinner. Besides, you get the opportunity to meet and talk with Cubans, and hosts are always knowledgeable about their own city. Go on your own. If you go with one of the many touts at the bus station or recommended by your hosts in your previous destination (they always try), then the price they charge you will be increased by 5 CUC (5 US$) per night, to account for the commissions.
Another oddity in Cuba are cars. 1950’s American automobiles are still in use, many of them work as private taxis. Those are some of the few cars seen in Cuba. Streets in cities other than Havana are largely car-free, since most Cubans cannot afford a car.