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Cuban Sketches (excerpt): 07/05/08
The next piece in Havana is an excerpt from the 1881 book Cuban Sketches by James William Steele. The original book was 220 pages and I'm not convinced that this short selection is a good representation of the whole book. Steele wrote the book while serving as a United States Consul.
From the little bit that is included in Havana, "Cuban Sketches" comes off as not much more than a lengthy rant about how backwards the Spaniards living in Cuba were and how uncomfortable any civilized American will be when visiting.
The excerpt contains complaints against the colors of the buildings (described as "parti-colored"), the narrow streets, the windowless buildings, horrific food, uncomfortable beds, lack of proper gardens and trees, and so forth.
Coming so late in the book after numerous love letters about Cuba, this excerpt comes as a shock. It's a complete departure in tone but it does give a glimpse of what island life was like 120 years ago.
Here is the complete list of reviews from Havana: Tales of a City.