Our last day in Havana was activity filled - we did a bit more sightseeing, bought cigars on the black market (long story,) decided to go for a Santeria ceremony (religious ceremony that is a mish-mash of traditional Yoruba religion mixed with Roman Catholicism). We didn't really make it to the ceremony, but ended up meeting some really nice guys who worked in cigar factories who finally gave us some insight into life in Cuba as a Cuban. We then later on went to The Revolutionary Museum and another museum.
The afternoon with the Cuban guys was fascinating. They were so happy to hear we were from Africa and well traveled. They knew so much about our countries. When one of my colleagues who spoke Spanish told them she learnt it in Spain, they were curious "Spain, have you been to the Impressionist Art museum in Madrid? Have you seen the works of Goya?" I was so fascinated by how much they knew about a world they had never seen. On hearing two of us were Kenyan, "Aaaaaah, Kenya. Do you have pictures or magazines from home?" That was a bitter-sweet afternoon for all of us. Sweet because our new friends were so interesting, kind and engaging, but bitter because we learnt about the harsh realities of life for Cubans. I had always known that Cubans were not allowed to leave Cuba except for very few who got permits for conferences, sports events etc, but I didn't realize that Cubans couldn't even travel freely in their own country. "To go from Havana to Trinidad de Cuba I need a permit from the government and I am only allowed to stay a few weeks at a time." It was so sad to hear these young guys who had as much wanderlust as we did, ask us for travel stories - for that would be the closest they would ever get out of Cuba. It broke my heart. I had always had my criticisms of communism, but now I am able to articulate it in one statement, "What right does anyone (and especially the Government) have to determine all aspects of how I live my life? Where I live? What I eat? Where I go? How much I make? What my profession will be? etc?"
We went to a live music event in a restaurant with the guys and talked much more. Later in the evening we each began to say our individual farewells to Cuba - knowing that we would mull over our time there several times in the future.
I summarize it as follows - Cuba is a great place to visit as a tourist (so much to see, such a unique culture, so much beauty, music, wonderful people etc.) but Cuba is not necessarily a good country to be born in.