California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

The human spirit in a neglected Havana

Photo by Hanna Childress/Contributor

Hannah Childress,
Contributor

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Some might look at the city of Havana, Cuba and think that the conditions of the neglected buildings would affect the demeanor of the local residents however this is far from the truth.

Cuba’s deprived economy has lead to the neglect of maintaining the iconic buildings of Havana and over many decades has left it nearly in disrepair.

As I walk down these residential streets I am intrigued by the character that these old buildings possess. Although, they would be considered an eyesore back home in America I look past the esthetics and find beauty in the stories and life that they hold.

On first impression a visitor could form an assumption that the dilapidated buildings would break down the human spirit of Havana residents. After spending sometime exploring and talking to the locals I have discovered that the buildings do not mirror the emotions of the locals.

Every encounter I had with a local Cuban was greeted with a smile and curiosity of where I am from and what I think of their country.

Along my walk I stopped in at a small outdoor fruit and vegetable market called Agromercado, which is managed by a woman named Margarita. Within seconds stepping into the market Margarita greeted me and although I could only understand half of the things she was saying to me I could tell that she was just as excited for the culture exchange between the both of as I was.  

By the end of our exchange I learned her name, where her sister lives, how to say the different names of the fruits and vegetables she was selling and was insisted to take two guavas with the trust that I would bring her money tomorrow for the fruit.

America’s standard of living is completely different and often times based on superficial expectations and as an American visitor in Cuba it is a humbling experience to see the human spirit thrive in impoverished region.

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The human spirit in a neglected Havana