So the next few days were filled with taking taxiing around the city and skating. Not a bad deal. Everywhere we went to skate, we were distracted by our surroundings. “Take a picture of this, Scuba”, Manderson would say. Everywhere we looked was intriguing to us. One day we were wandering off on our own and found the sketchiest handrail. Manderson and Ron Deily skated it for a while. Behind the rail were old broken down beach homes—which time had forgotten. We’re talking ocean front property that was uninhabitable. Pools that had decayed and nearly fallen into the ocean. I wondered what this place must have been like in the 1950’s. Probably one of the nicest places ever. Cuba used to be a popular tourist spot and a gamblers paradise. All that was cut off after the Revolution in 1959.
As with any skate trip, we always get to explore a city in a different ways than most tourists do. We ended up in some neighborhoods that tourists never visit; they were not dangerous by any means, just unaccustomed to visitors such as ourselves. It was good to see how the Cubans lived. Really eye opening for myself especially, as sometimes you forget how good we have it here in the States. The Cuban people, for the most part, are not starving, but they are really poor. The government takes care of their people in the vital aspects of life; food, housing, medical care, jobs. Cubans do not have a lot of extra money to buy things that are not necessities. As you can imagine, skateboards fall into that category.
As we continued skating around Habana, I really started feeling like we were in a time capsule there. I’ve already touched on the old cars in the last update, but people also didn’t have mobile phones, no computers or credit cards taken out on the street. It was pretty awesome to have that feeling. We were disconnected from the world, and it felt good.
The Cuban cigars you ask? Well Manderson and myself were on the mission for them. We were standing in front of a cigar factory when a man approached us and told us he had cigars for sale. So Mike, Rob Meronek and myself followed him through some alleyways and into his living room. He brought out every kind of Cuban cigar you could imagine. Too good to be true we though, at half prices, we decided to buy a box each. Of course we asked for a sample and the man carefully selected a cigar for us to try. They are real, “one box each please”…we were hyped. We got them at 45 pesos. So we arrive at the hotel later, excited, and pull out a few cigars. We light them up… turns out they’re fake. The man who sold us the cigar had given us one real one to test out. So we got taken.
Look out for part three next week.