Cycling in a foreign country makes me
aware of the differences in culture, politics and economics in the
world. As a matter of fact, it is the only reason why I have always wanted to
travel. Rather than base my opinions on the media in my own country I
have always felt the need to go and see myself. This made me travel
into the communist European countries – behind the iron curtain,
which was not easy – in the seventies (seems ages ago now) and to
so many other parts of the world. I wanted to see and experience how culture and systems (governments) shape societies and determine the lives of
So I did in Cuba. To tell the truth, I
loathed the Cuban goverment many times for the results of their
policies for the Cubans. Many times I felt pity for the Cubans, for their
poverty, for the empty shops, for their waiting, endless waiting.
My mistake is that I compare it to the
Netherlands. I know that my country is one the most organised,
reliable, free and prosperous countries in the world. So this
comparison is unfair.
What I ought to do is compare Cuba with
the countries in the region. And then the result is opposite. Haïti,
the closest neighbour, is the poorest country in the world. Then
there are Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Brasil (a Brasilian
couple made this clear to us), countries where there are many
homeless people, where crime and corruption are horrandous. The
Cubans are a merry and friendly people, all of them have access to
education and health care, they are well fed and the middle class is
growing. In this comparison Cuba earns the best marks, thumbs up and
great compliments, despite the fact that it is no democracy and
that the US-bloccade has still not entirely been lifted.
The (too many :-)) photos are now to be seen. Click on the link in the right column.