No plans in the morning except a long walk on the beach. After lunch at the hotel, we left as a group to explore Trinidad; population about 40,000. I had no expectations after being in Havana and traveling the countryside, but Trinidad was an unexpected treasure of architecture, artists, plazas, food and markets. This was my opportunity to buy local clothing and small treasures for friends back in the states.
A little information about Cuban life. People are still trying to leave. If the Coast Guard picks up Cuban’s at sea they will take them back to Cuba. If they make it to US soil they’re in. The Cuban government doesn’t tolerate drugs, guns or bad behavior. Men wear long pants. Cubans do drink a lot of alcohol; especially beer and rum. The divorce rate is high, abortions are legal and unemployment is less than 3%. Schools are owned by the state or run by the Catholic Church. If a Cuban defects he or she has to wait 5 years before they’re allowed back in. Voting and Parliament is so complicated I’ll probably get the information wrong if I try to explain it. If you study the Arts you have a chance to travel. There are Unions but they’re government controlled. It’s more about work conditions than money. If you graduate from the University you owe two years to the government. Education is free. At 15 or 16 Cuban students can go into vocation trades or continue at the University level. Tests are given early. Sport’s schools thrive with kids leaving their homes to attend at the age of 13. Most of the kids live at the sport’s schools during the week and go home on the weekends. You don’t see a lot of older people. Children take care of their parents, doctors make house calls and I never saw a retirement home.
Tonight more music and shows at the hotel and a restful night watching CNN and Sports Center in the hotel lobby trading stories with a couple of young women traveling the country on their own from Australia.