When Fidel Castro was barred from the U.N. 50th-anniversary parties and fun, Christopher Hunt's curiosity was piqued. He decided to spend a winter in Cuba, avoid New York's icy misery, practice his Spanish, absorb some Cuban culture, and maybe even meet Fidel. In the time-honored tradition of great travelogues, everything goes wrong and everything goes right. He finds wonderful people while trying to meet Castro (including the man who played Grandpa Munster on the 1960s television show, The Munsters), and sees a lot of Cuba, from Havana alleys to resort beaches to the mountains that sheltered Castro and his band of rebels years ago. Some questions get resolved, while unanswerable Cuban quandaries take their place, such as how Cubans balance fear, hunger, passion, and hope in a country of food shortages, endless lines, and police surveillance. Hunt's finely rendered account of four months in Cuba whets the appetite for more about Cuba and more penned by Hunt.
From Library Journal
Hunt doesn't travel the easy way. His last book, Sparring with Charlie (LJ 5/1/96), was about navigating the Ho Chi Minh Trail on a motorbike. Here he retraces Fidel Castro's 1959 Liberty Caravan through Cuba, doing it illegally (as a foreigner) by hitchhiking on crowded trucks and staying in the unlicensed homes of local people. His goal was to interview Castro, but in this he failed. He did, however, come in contact with a cross section of ordinary people to provide a view of a nation that appears to be reaching the end of its socialist era, rife with shortages and encountering a notable increase in crime. He finds growing dissatisfaction with the government and an alarming polarization of power and privilege. Hunt writes with sympathy and humor, which somehow makes for enjoyable reading despite the suffering he describes. A good choice for public libraries.
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-?Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland, Ore.
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