Twittering from Cuba

Hi everyone,

I’m currently on vacation in Cuba.  A lot of people have expressed interest in hearing about this trip – but I wasn’t expecting to have any access to the outside world while I am here. Well things have changed and now I even have my treo cellphone activated with text messaging!

Internet access is difficult, so I’m going to send updates from Cuba to Twitter via my cellphone.  For those that haven’t used Twitter before, it basically works like a chat room, but for cellphone text messaging and IM.   I’ll be in Cuba until Thursday 10th of May.
This is fascinating to me to use one of the most accessible communication tools in the world (Twitter) from one of the least accessible countries in the world (Cuba).

The updates will just be things I am thinking and feeling as I backpack around.  You may find my perspective unique because:

– I am a huge fan of Ayn Rand and objectivism
– I am a strong supporter of the free software foundation, and follow all forms of community software, including the open source movement.
– I have lived in the Dominican Republic for 5 years and understand Caribbean culture
– I speak very fluent Spanish
– I am staying with normal Cuban families, spending 100% of my time with real Cubans and zero government intervention
– I truly want to learn about the Cuban system and what makes it work.
Already I have found this trip to be very profound.

You can get my Cuba twitter updates in several ways:

1.  Sign up for an account at twitter and add me as a friend.  Twitter: adrianbye.  You will get updates to your cellphone or via IM.  This is the best way.
2.  Get updates via RSS:
3.  Read them on the twitter website here:

The twitter postings will just be short (due to cellphone text message limitations), but when I get back I’ll post more in depth (with photos) on my blog:

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem I can receive text messages to my phone from the outside, so I probably will not receive updates sent to me via twitter.  Also, internet access is a hassle, so I will probably not check email until I return home.  But, if you want to reach me while I’m in Cuba, feel free to call my cuban cell: 011-53-5-295-9122.  Timezone is EST, same as New York.
Why am I in Cuba?

1.  I am a big fan of Ayn Rand, and I decided to come to Cuba to understand the Cuban perspective.  I noticed from reading Atlas Shrugged that the world portrayed really resembles Cuba today.  I also find it fascinating that Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957 but Cuba was turned to socialism in 1959.  I have a list of questions I’m going to ask people here.  Yesterday I met a lady who is a professor of marxist philosophy, so I plan on spending some time with her.

2.  Since I have lived in the Dominican Republic for 5 years, I want to compare and contrast the two countries.  Both countries come from a similar background, but went in dramatically different directions in the 50’s and 60’s.

3.  I have a theory that free software is similar to socialism in some ways, and works on the internet because there is no physical property involved.  This is a controversial statement to make, obviously.  🙂

4.  I really like a song called “Ella y el” by Ricardo Arjona. Its about Cuba (in spanish).  I want to see what the cubans think of it.. 🙂 

So, is what I’m doing legal?
As an Australian citizen residing in the Dominican Republic, I am not subject to the US restrictions for Cuba.  Will the Cuban government be happy I’m using twitter?  I don’t know, but hopefully it will be ok.   Life’s about taking some risks, right?  🙂

Communication here is incredibly restricted.  Cubans cannot even get a cellphone let alone internet access.  I doubt many people have used twitter from Cuba before, so this is all rather new.

Its been funny hanging out with the Cubans – because I so obviously look foreign, they assume I’m another clueless foreigner.  But when I start talking with them, they think I am latino!

And, yes, I am taking lots of photos, but I can’t post them from here.  I’ll put them on my blog when I get home.

So far I have been impressed with many things about Cuba.  The streets are cleaner than the Dominican Republic, and the people are VERY well educated.  I have been shocked at the level of education of people I’ve come into contact with so far – from what I have seen so far, Cubans far surpass the educational level of Dominicans.

Obviously the country is in total disrepair.  A lady I met this morning who works in a store (government owned, of course) earns $23/month.  She has 2 years of college.  She didn’t quite know what to make of my treo cellphone.

Anyways, check out my postings on Twitter through May 10: