With Fidel teetering on the verge of passing away, the Cuban exiles in Florida are already cutting deals with developers for the land along the coast. The moment that the government looks rocky, all the old mafia will jump up to try and muscle their way back in.
In fact, communism in Cuba has been an enormous success, given that they’ve had to get by with a total economic blockage from the states – they send 55,000 doctors to Africa for free every year, which is 55,000 more than the US.
The absence of a free market (apart from the hustling in Havana seeded by tourism) means that the Cubans have grown up without the media barrage common to most countries these days and are apparently all expert musicians – there’s nothing else to do.
To prolong your stay in Cuba beyond the tourist visa you just need to enrol in a Spanish course at Havana University for $10 or so and you can stay as long as you need. Then the trick is to get out of the tourist economy and live like the Cubans (most of whom earn no more than $25 a month) by converting all your money into Cuban pesos. It can be tough to work out where they’ll let a foreigner spend them though. God bless communist bureaucracy.
Cuba is an island frozen in time and will most likely not last too long once Castro succumbs so learn your Spanish, fill up on pesos, grab your guitar and hit the backroads into the Caribbean heart of the island.
Check out cuba-junky.com – a great intro to the island.