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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Cuba: The abused beauty 

11 October 2017
All is not as it first may seem in this tropical prison, Cuba

Cuba, the enigma of all travel destinations with Havana at its heart. This blissful humid dream has been reeling in western tourists for decades due to the nostalgia it brings through the display of its vintage American cars. Untouched since left to its own devices during the 1960s by the Cold War, Cuba is an everlasting time capsule of the idealistic revolutions it survived during this era – even with the same family name, Castro, reigning over its lands.

 With percussionists hitting drums as fast as the beating hearts of salsa dancers, the night shows no mercy to those who wish to sleep. This sleepless city thrives in the darkness under the faint lighting of dimly lit Jazz cafés, inconsistent street lamps and open-fronted terraced housing, lapping up the midnight air. The roar of children playing beneath the moonlight is enough music to your ears to suggest that the nocturnal city of Havana prides its culture on partying through the night without a care for the happenings of the morning. These habits are ingrained in all, from the youth all the way to the elderly. 

Basking in the sunlight, Havana is rich in colour, with each building reflecting the colour palette of a Wes Anderson film. The aesthetic of this pastel paradise cannot be denied. However, whilst absorbing the vibrant walls of each individual building, there is no escaping the fact that Cuba is a direct representation of beauty in decay, with cracks crawling up the edge of historical colonial housing where wealth once thrived. With some neighbourhoods nearing on the brink of an architectural wasteland, the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, as it can be difficult to look past the poverty that overcrowds this city – breaking the hearts of those who come to visit.

With the lack of Wi-Fi access perhaps serving as a social media escape to tourists, to Cubans the limited access to resources that may inform them of their economic and social state is in stark comparison to the rest of the world. Not only are Cubans restricted by what they can debate in public, there is an overwhelming amount of propaganda to keep the levels of patriotism high – this even bleeds into tourism – with every t-shirt displaying a print of ‘the saviour’ Fidel Castro. 

The tainted economy which separates the affluent tourists from the deprived locals is so restraining that no Cuban will ever be able to afford to leave, with the Cayman Islands being the closest land of 227.3 miles away, I have no other choice than to illustrate this destination as a tropical prison for its inhabitants.

 This punitive criticism of Cuban politics, though, is to encourage those of you who should visit to equip yourselves with sanitary products for maids, baseballs for street children and soap for hotel staff, for even the basic necessities are unaffordable. Hopefully then, when you visit, you will acquire an understanding as to why Cuba is the most picturesque bird in existence, confined by a gold-plated cage.
All Pics & Words, Verity Hobbs