ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Old Cars, Old Buildings, Old Rum

Wandering through Havana is like going back in time, for Cuba is a unique country that has striven to preserve the past.

The first thing you notice as you step out of the plane is the soft, damp smell of stale, air-conditioned air. It’s a smell you associate with cheap hotels and grandparents’ bedrooms, not with airports. The Jose Marti International Airport at Havana was also the emptiest-looking airport I’ve ever seen. Most airports are bustling hubs of restaurants, bars and duty-free shopping. The only commercial sign I saw at the Jose Marti International Airport was an old crumbling poster for Lucky Strike cigarettes.

As we drove into Havana in our taxi, we quickly realised that this vague look of ruin wasn’t exclusive to the airport alone. The main streets were wide and dotted with trees, and were probably splendid when they were constructed. Now, however, they were full of potholes and clearly had not been tended to for long. Due to the trade embargo on Cuba, most cars on the streets are old American-muscle Fords and Chevys from the 1950s. The original engines have mostly been replaced with new ones from Japan and South Korea, and watching these cars roar down the roads is quite a fascinating sight.

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