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Among Friends: Travels in Cuba Paperback – October 6, 2016
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" ... gives us a Cuba the ordinary tourist will not see.... The book's website has great photos, best viewed as the story unfolds."
"... recommended for any would-be traveler to Cuba and for armchair readers who want a travelogue that contrasts rural and urban daily life in post-socialist Cuba, ... Murray's ability to succinctly depict the peoples of Cuba makes this a special recommendation for anyone who would understand the history, culture, and psyche of a changing nation." D. Donovan, Midwest Book Reviews
Murray's writing is beautiful and... she has a unique way of weaving the different themes into the narrative - friendship, politics, travel, and culture....Apart from the entertainment one gets from Travels in Cuba, the book also offers excellent tips and advice that readers will need while traveling in the country. It was so good that I couldn't put it down. Readers' Favorite Book Awards
This is a very good book. The writingis almost flawless ... a wonderful, warm-hearted view of a much neglected andsometimes maligned nation - its countryside, its architecture, its institutions- but mostly its people. Goodreads review
From the Back Cover
"... I crossed the lobby, opened the plywood door and entered the ancient Otis elevator, feeling for the tenth-floor button in the dark. The cabin jerked upwards, rose to a height of perhaps five feet, and then stopped. I waited for a full minute to see if anyone had pressed a button somewhere else and thereby halted the lift. Absolute silence. Oh no, I thought, I'm stuck between floors in this death-crate; it's late and nobody will hear me if I shout, and what should I shout in Spanish anyway?"
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M.J. Santo Pietro, Ph.D.
is a good read that reaches beyond the usual touristic and folkloristic aspects of Cuba.
It’s the author’s personal account of a number of visits she paid to Cuba since 2008, pleasant to read, with a good sense of humor.
I enjoyed reading about the life of ordinary citizens in Cuba, how they live, work and cope with many shortages and outdated equipment. Chaotic traffic in obsolete vehicles in the cities and on the few bumpy roads give a lively picture of what traveling is like in Cuba. Sounds like fun. Not to forget a great number of quaint old buildings in the cities and unexpected beautiful scenery.
It’s also about social justice versus freedom of opinion, about friendship and human kindness. Interaction with occidental tourists provides food for thought.
wonderful, strong people of Cuba and their stories, well reported.
Any reader will want to go to Cuba, but will also wish for Murray's "guides" and connections, not so easily found.
Julian meets Heather in Havana, becoming her tour guide; this allows her to immerse herself in the everyday life of Cuban people. There are two forms of money: a local currency for Cubans and a different one for everyone else. Cubans have access to subsidised shops, restaurants and travel; however, this is reflected in their very low wages. Additionally, there are vast shortages of paper, drinking water, transport, electricity and certain foods.
At the conference Heather is expected to pay to be a speaker and pay for her end of conference dinner. At first she is indignant; she has already paid for her airfare and accommodation, but Julian explains that without money from foreigners, the conference would not exist. Lots of delegates are keen to befriend Heather, but she is disappointed that no one invites her to their home or their place of work for a visit. Julian, once again, explains that with so many shortages these contacts hope Heather can send them items like, paper, books and other resources they need, or even invite them to visit Switzerland, whilst they are ashamed to invite her to where they work and live. He reminds Heather that few Cubans can leave their country, whereas for something like an academic invite, they may be granted permission.
Heather returns to Cuba several more times, each time witnessing changes. One big change was when Eusebio Leal began to restore areas to attract tourists, thus bringing in much needed foreign money to Cuba.
One interesting time was the death of Venzuela’s president, Hugo Chavez. Cuba announced three days of national mourning for someone outside their own country. This was because, in the past, Venezuela sent oil and money to Cuba, now Cuba feared for the future. I was also very impressed by the vast empathy from Cubans, to others. Many Cubans volunteer all over the world in medical aid agencies; particularly helping the poor and distressed in Latin America and Africa. This may be one way they can legitimately leave Cuba.
I found I learnt a lot about the history of this country and the everyday hardships its people face. There are no pictures in the book, but these can be found on Heather’s website. This is a long book; however, I would recommend it to those interested in the story of native people from this Caribbean island.
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