In the mountains above Cienfuegos, Cuba, we swam in a waterfall filled natural rock pool while a pig roasted over a fire pit for dinner.
We met the local coffee workers and their families and shared beer or a soda with them.
One mother, Maria, shared "we are poor here" while she showed me a baby chick, her humble abode and the place where she cooks by an open fire.
I shared my opinion that that her children seemed content, the men played music on their guitars, and that they could raise their own healthy food. The natural beauty of the pristine mountains, streams and coffee plantations made for a peaceful environment.
Maria has family members working in Miami, FL, but any cash remittances were usually confiscated before they received the letters.
Traffic, noise, the expensive cost of living as well as drugs and violence are the costs of living in a big city like Miami. Didn't she prefer her views and serene village life? Yes, but it would be nice to have money for toiletries and medicine.
It is worrisome to ponder that when the economic embargo is lifted in the near future, that large US corporate interests (resort hotels, casinos, restaurants) will infiltrate this pristine environment and create developments that are out-of-scale for this island-country.
For Cuba's sake, I hope that smart environmental and architectural rules are in force and enforced.