We stayed in Habana Vieja, the oldest part of the city, for five days. We were located centrally in a top floor apartment, with beautiful views of the city (through Airbnb). Our hosts were a mom and son, who showed us around the neighborhood and cooked breakfast for us every morning. The warmth and curiosity of the Cuban people immediately stood out. They may not have much, but they make the best of what they have.
I heard one person say, Havana could be the best city in the world. In the hearts of its people, it is; but they strive for more. They are resourceful, and many take up a "side hustle" to get by. They are eager to welcome us, as we represent opportunity--both ideologically and with our pocket books. Those in the tourist trade stand to make in a day what most Cubans will make in a month.
While change is happening fast, it will take generations to repair all of the neglect. Buildings are crumbling, and while some streets may get a fresh coat of paint prior to events like Obama's visit, it is structural changes that are still needed. But here is where change starts.