This is the second installment of a 3 part interview with my best friend of over 30 years, Raul. A Cuban born American that travels back to his home town, Placetas, Cuba after 42 years. To read more, please see Part I of my blog.
|Early 20th Century Fountain of the Muses at El Tropicana of Havana.|
|Santuario de San Lazaro at El Rincon.|
San Lazaro patron saint of the sick.
Next to an old lepers' hospital in Havana.
Q: So, even though they didn't thrown people in jail any longer for being gay and before Raul Castro's (Fidel's Brother) Daughter, Mariela Castro Espin started actively fighting for LGBT rights in Cuba , it was say, kind of illegal to be publicly gay?
|Locals, School children and El Gran Teatro in the back ground.|
A: Yes, my cousin was fired from his job when they found out he was gay because he was having a relationship with a coworker. They were turned in by people (government watchdogs) who were with the communist, most likely employees of the hospital where they worked. If you turn people in that were anti-communist, it would elevate your status. Being gay in Cuba was considered anti-communist, it was illegal and up until the late 1990s, homosexual would be sent to prison. Both were fired and they moved to Havana where it was more accepted basically, like New York and they were followed by the government. Not by the same people but for the original Crime" committed in Placetas. They were both fired again from there new jobs.
Q: Did your cousin's relationship survive?
|Local Artist - Mural in Havana.|
A: No, because after all of that, the boyfriend went back to his wife, he was married with children and so was my cousin. My cousin didn't go back to his wife, but he went back to Placetas and fell into a deep depression and he told me he was like comatose for like a month. That he just laid in bed and didn't do anything.
|Catedral San Cristobal in Havana.|
|The Cuban 5. The 5 Cuban men convicted |
of conspiracy to commit Espionage
and murder in the US.
|Modern sculpture art up against old Architecure.|
|Iglesia San Martin de Porras in Havana.|
|Iglesia San Francisco de Paula in Havana.|
|Painting of La Virgen de la Caridad en|
el Hotel San Francisco
Q: And how's is your cousin doing now at the time of your visit?
A: He is well. He works in the tourism industry in Havana and quite happy with his partner of 8 years.
|Was once the Hilton Hotel of Havana. |
Now a Government Owned Building.
|Raul shaking hands with a Cute Gigolo. Ok, not a real Gigolo|
Just a cute Hot Dog, Dog that Performs but not Gigolo things.
A: Well, the difference is Havana has a night life, it seemed like it was alive all the time. There is tourism, there are places to see, saw a lot of prositutes, male and female. There is a park that is like Central Park that is know for it's gigolos. In a small town, you have none of this, although I am sure there prostitution, but I sure didn't see it. All over Cuba there is a large percentage of Alcoholism.
|Live show at the Tropicana that Costs about $150. per|
Ticket. This would take a Citizen of Cuba 5 years to save up for.
|Hey, is that a Celia Cruz Impersonator? No, it is|
Amparito Valencia An Entertainer at the Buena Vista Social Club!
p.s. You know there is a Celia Cruz Park in Union City...On Bergenline and 32Nd Street. Oh yes there is!
|Raul at Buena Vista Social Club,,,|
Getting down with the Rhythm.
|Buena Vista Social Club-Mazacote.|
|The Hotel Nacional.|
A: Yes, they are being refurbished now. A lot of Havana is being rebuilt and a lot of the buildings are keeping the facade and modernizing the inside.
|Raul at the Hotel Beach.|
|The Hotel Nacional|
|The building where the Restoration Architects|
work out of to Restore Havana for Tourism.
Q: Does it appear to be similar to America in Havana, such as American goods, restaurants and clothing stores?
|El Capitolio - Capitol Building in Havana- Look Familiar ???|
A: It doesn't. It is like comparing apples to oranges.
|The view from the balcony in Hotel Laguna Azul.|
|An Apartment Building in Havana not renovated.|
|A view from Rau'ls Cousins Balcony onto|
a rooftop where Roosters live and are used for fighting.
|Another Renovated building in Havana.|
|A view from Raul's Cousin's Apartment Balcony in Havana|
|Havana University and an Old car.|
Q: Can the Cubans visit the tourist areas and do they shop there too?
A: They can not afford it, but at least they are somewhat now allowed. Before they weren't allowed in the tourist area.
|Raul as a tourist in Havana.|
That concludes Part II - To read Part III, please click this link. We talk about salary, the economy, food and rations.
Thank you for reading and have a Fab Evening!!! ~ Gina (and Raul)
|A Vintage planter that was in Raul's house in Placetas but now resides|
in Havana with a Raul's Mother's cousin.