I’m back in Juneau walking with Aki through the Treadwell ruins. The weather forms a sharp contrast with that I had in Cuba, where I spent the last 10 days. There, we had lots of sunshine and temperature in the 80’s. Here, it’s hovering just below freezing and soft snow settles on the little dog’s gray curls as she trots past the bones of the hospital.
I spent most of my Cuba time in the old section of Havana, where narrow, cobblestone streets separate rows of houses with half-ruined marble staircases and still-beautiful courtyards. Folk in Havana treated me and the others in my people-to-people group with kindness and sometimes, bemusement. Just before sunrise we would head into the city, cameras clicking away at students and their parents making their way to jobs or school. Rather than swat us away like the mosquitoes we were, they smiled or just ignored us. After several photographers took pictures of an elderly woman on a second story balcony as she pulled up a rope to which a friend on the sidewalk had attached a bag filled with flour or rice, she shouted out that they owed her a dollar.
Another morning, while walking alone, I watched a man with only one good leg limp around the Plaza Vieja to feed stray dogs with restaurant leftovers. At least one of the strays had a sign around its neck, placed there by the government, that provided the name of the dog (P-9) and a request that people be gentle with it. Aki would like Havana.