Santiago, we learn how
large the city looms in
Cuban history. It figured
prominently in the country’s three wars
of independence against Spain. And
it was here that Fidel Castro launched
his Cuban Revolution. It’s also where
he chose to be buried. We visit Castro’s
unpretentious grave in the city’s
spectacular Santa Ifigenia Cemetery;
later we journey to his birthplace in the
rural town of Biran.
Seemingly endless sugarcane fields
surround the sprawling plantation
where Castro grew up in relative luxury.
Not many foreigners visit, but it’s a
popular pilgrimage for Cubans and a
fascinating place to learn more about
the man who shaped modern Cuba.
“We can travel from the place where
Fidel was born to the place he was
buried in under two hours,” observes
Eddy Lorente, our resourceful 29-year-
old guide, “but to tell his life story
would take much longer than that.”
During our time with him, Lorente
is happy to answer all questions about
daily life in Cuba. He explains how
the food rationing system works,
and how people are paid mostly in
local pesos while goods and services
aimed at foreign tourists are priced in
convertible pesos—which are 25 times
more valuable, putting them out of
reach for most Cubans.
While the portrait he paints of island
life sounds like one of daily struggle,
Lorente remains resolutely proud of his
country, its history and its people.
walk to school in
ater, while touring