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    Posted on Nov 2, 2015

    17 Photos You Should See If You're Curious About What Cuba's Actually Like

    For the first time in 50 years, traveling to Cuba from the U.S. is relatively easy. Which is great, because there's a lot to see.

    Zach Urbina

    Just after this photo, someone a few floors up, across the street from me, whistled over to this produce vendor. Then the guy in the apartment lowered a basket down from four floors up and bought a few bananas, raising the rope hand-over-hand to bring the fruit up to him.

    Zach Urbina

    Havana's capital building, in the background, impressed me as much as anything I'd seen in Washington D.C., but the restored classic cars were truly astonishing.

    Zach Urbina

    As I was wandering the streets of Old Havana, I was more/less forced into an impromptu guided tour that took me inside a few private homes, much to the surprise of this adorable grandma.

    Zach Urbina

    I definitely ran into a few giant potholes around the city, but what you mostly notice is the marvelous architecture.

    Zach Urbina

    This group of girls just happened to be exiting their car as Yasel, my driver, paused at a stop sign on the road to Viñales. Fortunately, like a lot of the people I talked to, they were completely un-self-conscious about having their picture taken.

    Zach Urbina

    I was walking around close to midnight and noticed that everyone in this square was browsing the web. In Havana, the internet is not just social media; it's properly social. Wifi is very new and because so few people have web access in their homes, public wifi hotspots are packed with people until very late at night.

    Zach Urbina

    One hour of wifi access is sold for the equivalent of $4.50, in convertible pesos pegged to the U.S. dollar — still expensive given the average salary in Cuba, especially for younger Havana residents.

    Michel and his friends found a way to multiplex a single wifi connection using a Windows program called Connectify, turning one laptop into a hotspot for several people. We all contributed a peso to the cause, myself included.

    Zach Urbina

    This guy was selling a bootleg TV antenna. Apparently you can pick up broadcast signals from Miami, only 70 miles across the water.

    Zach Urbina

    I ended up spending a lot of time inside the Hotel Plaza to get a little relief from the tropical humidity. It's air conditioned, which isn't a given in Havana, especially outside of tourist zones.

    Some people, although certainly not a majority, have air conditioning at home via wall units, which is noticeable on weekends when the electricity gets overloaded and some neighborhoods (including the one my Airbnb was in) lose power.

    Zach Urbina

    Many of the classic American cars in Havana are taxis. I spent three days riding in a 1954 Pontiac with no seat belts.

    Zach Urbina

    The paint glitters and the chrome blings, but a look under the hood of this 1957 Chevy Bel Air revealed a Korean-built motor.

    Zach Urbina

    This lady, like so many others I encountered, had fantastic style.

    Zach Urbina

    This was taken near the old Spanish port, which was built in the 1500s and intended to keep out invasion by sailing ships. It's hard not to love a place that lets dalmatians run wild.

    Zach Urbina

    These ladies near the old port worked for the government.

    Zach Urbina

    This is a familiar sight in any urban setting, but I was struck by the number of cleats that were dangling. The popularity of beisbol in Cuba cannot be overstated.

    Zach Urbina

    There was definitely a strong hustle going for tourist dollars, but I didn't meet any other travelers from the U.S. until I was hanging out at the airport, awaiting my departing flight. I think this group was from South America.

    Zach Urbina

    I tried to ask as many people as possible what they thought about the US. The phrase I kept coming back to: Somos amigos tambien. We're friends, too.

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