There are many books about Cuba and I have been trying to work my way through a few, and I’m sharing my findings. I’d love more recommendations! Please let me know in the comments or drop me an email at email@example.com. Today’s post is about a VERY readable account of one man’s unusual experiences here.
Slow Train To Guantánamo: A Rail Odyssey though Cuba in the Last Days of the Castros
By Peter Millar
Millar is an award-winning journalist who has reported from East Germany, the (then) Soviet Union and communist Poland, and who in 2013 decided to travel from Havana to Guantanamo by train, stopping along the way in Matanzas, Camagüey and many other interesting places along the way.
Millar seems to be genuinely enchanted and appropriately stunned by both the beauty and complications of Cuba. His interactions with the locals are depicted with humour and sensitivity and at no time does he patronise his subjects. His account also gives the reader an interesting insight into the workings of the dual currency, the huge gulf between rich and poor and the upside-down nature of the economy, where taxi drivers have medical degrees and where someone who works in tourism has more opportunities than a civil engineer with a PhD. I loved the section on Camagüey and Millar’s description of its maze-like layout as well as his all-too-familiar anecdotes about Cuban customer ‘service’.
Some of Millar’s experiences already seem dated. Cuba in 2019 is much more vibrant, innovative and worldly-wise than the place he describes. This is most obvious from his descriptions of food! Whilst he seemed to struggle to get a decent meal, these days, those with means in Havana are spoiled for choice for great places to eat. That said, this is a highly entertaining and informative read and a rare eye-witness account of the country: I certainly recommend it for entertainment, and as a guide of how NOT to travel here (i.e. by train!).
The next book on the list: Blogger Yoanni Sanchez’s collection Havana Real
What should I add to my Cuban reading list?