Decadence made in Cuba
In any other country, you may find that buildings falling apart should be demolished and something else built to replace them. In Cuba, you take pictures of them, thinking they are ever so charming, and you end up wondering whether Havana would be as interesting and fascinating had it been not so decadent.
You may walk right by the Capitolio in Havana, see a polished building which is just undergoing renovation, and just behind it you get to see rusty apartment buildings in desperate need for a good paint.
You may think they are just abandoned buildings, and that nobody lives there. But right after that, you will see somebody appearing at a window, throwing the keys to a friend, hanging the laundry, listening to music.
Sometimes you wonder how it is possibly that a building like that sits right in the centre of town. I guess then, when they say Habana Vieja (old Havana) they do really mean it!
I tried to figure out how buildings can get so old, and no maintenance work is ever done. I eventually asked Felix, my landlord in Havana, and he unveiled the mistery for me. Things such as paint in Cuba is bought in CUC (pesos convertibles), as opposed to salaries which are paid in MN (moneda nacional). At 25 MN per CUC, and with an average salary of 15 CUC per month, Cubans can hardly afford to buy paint to restore their buildings.
All in all, you end up liking this view. It just adds a bit of mistery to the already rich history and culture of the country!
Find out more about Cuba here.