Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympics in Cuba

On July 27 around the world, people stopped what they were doing to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.  In Cuba, the only people who stopped were in hotels.  There are Cuban athletes competing in these Olympics and doing very well, though it is reportedly the smallest team in history representing the country, but for a people whose every word and action symbolizes pride in their homeland I was surprised how few of them seemed to care about the Olympics at all.

The disconnect was very likely due to a total lack of access to Olympic coverage.  While almost every Cuban home has a TV, to say channels are limited is barely scratching the surface (more details on technology later.)  In our hotel we had plenty - I watched long enough to see Daniel Craig jump out of an airplane and snap this picture before heading out to see Havana.

The Havana sports center was ready to cheer on the home team,

And for a few moments we got to watch Olympic coverage from the sports-themed restaurant in Havana the first night, but only until the channel turned to Kenny G music videos.  Seriously, I couldn't even have made that up.

It became a hobby to identify every Olympic viewing site possible, though there weren't many on our trip.  A few government employees were watching a French basketball game from their office at the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro (Morro Castle).

But my favorite Olympic viewing moment was this one I spied on while walking through the streets of Habana Vieja at lunchtime.  I'm not sure why these children were stuck inside the building - perhaps their mother worked in the attached cafeteria.  But they were intently gazing at the Olympic competitions with such interest it made me want to go sit with them.

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