Monday, March 20, 2017


            For me, some of the most
exciting parts of travel are markets and street music.  I love to see all
the stuff that people use in their
daily life and street music is just
plain fun.

          Farmers’ markets exist in
every country in the world.  Often
they are the only source of food for
the people outside of things they
produce themselves.  Markets in
Cuba are no exception. You can buy
nearly everything you need to feed
your family at the Sunday market in
Santa Marta.  Vendors hawk long
braids of garlic and onions.  There
are piles of carrots, cabbages and
tomatoes.  Sides of pork, delicious
sausages and skinned rabbits
hang from hooks in the meat
market.  Or, if you prefer, you can buy a rabbit to butcher at home.  Missing from this is beef.  In Cuba, it is illegal to kill a cow.  Doing so will bring a 20 year prison sentence.
Cubans like to joke that killing one’s
 mother-in-law will get you only a
10 year sentence.

The prohibition against killing a cow
dates to the early 1990s.  Prior to
that, Cuba’s primary ally was the
Soviet Union.  The USSR provided
big sums of money and Cuba’s
exports went there.  When the
Soviet Union fell apart, this source
of money dried up.  The Cuban
economy collapsed and the people
suffered greatly.  Food became scarce and people began
killing cows-cows they did not own so it became illegal to kill a cow.  Cubans refer to this time as their “special period”.  They emerged from it in 1995 when they began 
to exploit tourism.  Today, tourism is the biggest industry and people consider themselves lucky when a family member becomes employed in it.

            If there’s anything you’ll find everywhere in Cuba, it’s music.  “Guantanamera” is virtually the
national anthem.  The song is about
a young girl from Guanatanamo province with whom the singer was in love and who left him.  So, it’s kind of sad.  However, a poem by José Martí can be sung to the tune of  Guantanamera  so the song was  
often looked at as a coded way to
sing the poem.  José Martí is a great
hero of the Cuban people.


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