The people, postcard-type beauty and extreme poverty of Cuba - Tucson News Now

The people, postcard-type beauty and extreme poverty of Cuba

A visit to Cuba is like a step back in time. (Source: Tucson News Now) A visit to Cuba is like a step back in time. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Cuba has postcard-type beauty. (Source: Tucson News Now) Cuba has postcard-type beauty. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Just a block away from a restaurant or a bar or a plaza, are broken down homes and other signs of extreme poverty. (Source: Tucson News Now) Just a block away from a restaurant or a bar or a plaza, are broken down homes and other signs of extreme poverty. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

My wife and I were able to travel to Cuba in early 2016.

With an iPhone, and very limited Spanish, we recorded some of our journey and spoke to ordinary people in the beautiful country that's long been sealed off to Americans.

Visiting Cuba was unquestionably an amazing and eye-opening experience.

MOBILE USERS: Take a look at exclusive photos from Cuba HERE.

You hear the music. You see postcard-type beauty. And you step back in time when you see the American cars from the '50s and '60s.

But what I also saw - and what I didn't read about in guidebooks or see in pictures - is the extreme poverty.

Just a block away from a restaurant or a bar or a plaza, I also saw broken down homes.

The people of Cuba couldn't have been more friendly or engaging.

In my limited Spanish, I asked them what they thought of the United States.

One woman said, "The United States for me is a country that's normal. I mean, all the Cubans want to leave to the United States."

Another man told me, "I know a lot about the United States. I know your history. I studied your country. I studied your customs. The United States is a country that likes Cubans."

And one man, who walked with his child, said even he wanted to go to the U.S.

He said, "The United States is for me - it's a better future than here."

The Cubans told me they feel that this new era of openness with the United States might help their economy.

The stunning reality is that many families earn only about $30 or $40 dollars a month.

I asked one woman if she was happy more Americans are going to come visit Cuba.

She responded by saying, "Yes, of course we're happy. It can bring a better life. Because you can come here - bring business - and build the economy for us."

A man in his 20s told me, "To me Cuba is my country. I invite you to come meet us and get to know us. Our country. We're a good people. We don't have a problem with you. The problem is between your government and our government, not between you and me."

The doors are not yet fully broken down.

Americans cannot travel simply as tourists.

But that might soon change - and the people of Cuba seem to like that possibility.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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