As has been stated non government controlled Cuba is something else but at the same time going around the state controlled cigar outlets or a 'collective' farm is an experience. We did have to take some trips on a tourist bus which made me a bit uneasy, unnecessarily so really, as there we were in air conditioned luxury driving past packed, and I mean packed, artic truck trailers doubling up as buses and groups of workers and school kids walking miles to and from work or school.
wandering through a field of rusting bulldozers with the old communist hammer and sickle emblem just showing was strange but that was trumped by a line of disintegrating Mig fighters. Some of the town squares tell a story and of course montages of Castro and Guevara dominated walls and the sides of buildings. We stayed in place where the taxi drivers turned up later as the band and later still as the bar staff and even later still as the dance troupe. Mental.
Landscape is mostly gorgeous and the people we met were fabulous but there is an under current. The older generation wax lyrical about the revolution even though they are barely getting by but the younger generation hanker for change and are very keen to learn, talk about where you have come from and tell their own stories. If its not tourism as a career they want to be Doctors. English is quite wildly spoken except out in the sticks but going back to the line of Migs I was joined by a couple of old guys and we got along just by pointing at or kicking something and calling it a bearing housing or hose. Engineering like botany is an international language.
Havanna is very nice for half a day. I say that as if you look too deep it is quite sad and it will literally fall down one day. Worth seeing before Disney get hold of it though or the other main threat seems to be hordes of Canadian and Japanese tourists who seem to operate under a totally different set of rules. I quite liked Holguin, Vinales and Santiago de Cuba but again it might be worth grabbing the essence of the place, having a beer and moving on. I can't remember how many times I had pork and black beans but it is what it is. One constant was the sea was always flipping cold.