It's the last day. We're so far ahead in our budget, Sam has made the well regarded decision to "live like Kings." This means taking taxis to visit the last of the sights in Habana: the Monument of Jose Marti and the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana.
The monument is located in the center of Revolution Plaza. Jose Marti is a national hero to a degree that may be hard to appreciate. Sam disagrees; but, I don't feel we have any equivalently worshiped personalities.
Regardless, the monument is a towering structure of concrete. It makes an imposing image in the skyline - vultures actually circle its heights. When Castro makes his appeals to "direct democracy," it is at the steps off the monument.
We paid 6 CUC$ a piece to get entry. There's a museum in the base, dedicated to not just Marti, but the pantheon of Cuban heroes. (the most recent is Che Guevara.) In the center is an elevator - express to the top!
Or, almost the top. The observation deck is small, with windows providing a view of all of Habana. On the floors are misaimed compasses, with distances in kilometers to the great cities of the world.
The fort was far more interesting. It sprawled several acres. And, it was literally littered with cannon. Cannonballs could be found stacked in piles at every turn. The walls were tall and study, and the inside well protected. Funnily, the massive fortress was one of the most expensive of its time. (Spanish colonial) But, it was also never used. Too fearsome, perhaps?
Standing on the highest of its parapets was an odd experience. I thought about how the defense of this harbor was apparently vital so many hundreds of years ago. Countries don't war over the bay now; because, despite so much potential here, there is so much to be had elsewhere.
We're ready to leave. Chris had stomach sickness last night. My appetite and strength have long since returned. But, my bowels are still unsteady. Sam is the only one of us to not have been nauseous but, his tacit admission of finally being sick of mango is damning.
This nation of constant revolution and politics, a place with police on every corner, and informants on every floor... it drives you to develop your own political thought. I intentionally avoid this mindset normally. But it's so hard to escape now.
I find myself reflecting on how to describe the freedom of choice.