Havana

Posted by Ellen

Until a couple of years ago, internet access in Cuba was a tightly restricted privilege; now, however, anybody can go online.

But two big obstacles remain. One is cost; a few minutes of wifi can eat up an entire day's pay for an average Cuban. Thus, although some people do use the web to check for news beyond official government reports, most internet activity in Cuba is focused on phone calls, often video calls, especially to friends and relatives abroad. 

The other obstacle to getting online is that wifi is not available in your living room; you have to go to a hotspot, which is often outdoors, in a park or plaza. So Cubans such as the Havanans in the photo above gather at hotspots around town with their phones and tablets.

In the evenings, when the tropical heat is letting up a bit, some hotspots get so crowded that the internet slows to to a crawl and may crash. The govvernment has promised to expand the wifi network and even bring it into people's homes, but little progress has been noted.

That's because of the American embargo, say Cuban officials. And they may be right.

Posted by Ellen

José Stein, our man in Havana, shares a street scene with us. "Random people," he says, "who've seen a lot of history."

Posted by Ellen

Joe, our man in Havana, is spending the spring semester in Cuba. He visited this bookstore the other day, where there were four people, five dogs, lots and lots of books, and on the floor near the left edge of the picture, a green and gold portable typewriter.

Posted by Ellen

Taekwon-Do tournament in Havana, Cuba.

Posted by Ellen

They really do like their baseball in Cuba.

Posted by Ellen

That's a pretty nice t-shirt that the guy in white shorts is wearing on this Havana street.

Posted by Ellen

Downtown Havana, Cuba, in 2009.