It was a bit of an unexpected flashback. After all, it had been decades since I lived in the old Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) and yet the feeling that bubbled up was the same. I stuck my camera out the bus window to capture yet another of a dozen billboards dotting the pockmarked highway that bisects Cuba. This one shouted “Por Siempre Fidel”—loosely meaning “Fidel Forever.” In keeping with the Soviet style aesthetic, it had a star, although most others featured the leader’s profile or some muscular woman wielding a wrench.

I had waited a long time to visit Cuba, and chartering there just added to the allure. Flying in, I noticed unkempt fields and haphazard government-sponsored farms. (I didn’t realize it yet, but they were the harbingers of the provisioning woes to come.) A weird Big Brother vibe mixed with the laid-back friendly ease of the Caribbean, it was eerily similar yet completely different to the days of my childhood.

Our first evening in Havana set the, ready to cast the hook.

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