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ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Cuba; Aired September 27, 2015, 21:00 ET
Aired September 27, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, my fellow citizens. This government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST (voice-over): This is the Cuba I grew up with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mankind, teeters precariously on the brink of a thermonuclear war.
BOURDAIN: The missile crisis, duck and cover, hide under your desk, kids, cover yourselves with wet newspaper because we're all going to die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flames of crisis burn far stronger, fed and fanned by the bitter tirades of Fidel Castro.
BOURDAIN: And this guy, always in the fatigues, underlining with every appearance that we were two nations in a never-ending state of war.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. We will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Cuba has been sitting here for, what, 55 years now? Half an hour away, basically giving the biggest superpower in the world the stiff middle finger.
(voice-over): Fifty-plus years of animosity, embargo, rationing, and Fidel Castro is still hanging on. But recently, there are powerful indications that everything is about to change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at Hymanita (ph), a little fishing town. This place is called Casa Santione's (ph) by two brothers that go out and fish every morning, bring fresh seafood.
BOURDAIN (on camera): OK, humble fishing village, traditional fishing family?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: What about the sushi? What's going on in this country, man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are changing, Anthony, what can I say?
My name is Hugo Canseo (ph). I was born in Cuba. I was in one of Cuba's most prominent schools when I made a joke about President Fidel Castro. I was a teenager. And the kid that slept on the bunk bed on top of me recorded our conversation. And I was expelled from school.
My mom said the only choice it for us to leave Cuba. I'm a businessman. I've lived in Miami for 35 years. It's my home base. I come back and forth to Cuba. I've been coming to Cuba for over 20 years. I mean, Cuba is a communist country in economic transition.
Since Raul Castro has allowed Cubans to establish more businesses, there are people that are making money, there are people that have created a tremendous amount of wealth.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): People with family connections to the States, people tied to the exploding tourist industry, small business owners, taxi drivers, people operating in ever-changing gray areas of what is permissible.
(on camera): How's it work right now? If you're Cuban, you can sell your property...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To another Cuban from Cuba. And that's what's happening right now, a lot of Cuban-Americans, a lot of Cubans living abroad are now coming back and through relatives are buying property.
Obviously somebody has touched this building with some kind of investment. It's renovated. It seems to be like a hotel. Somebody bought the building and turned it into a little hotel.
BOURDAIN: However you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren't any places in the world that look like this. I mean, it's utterly enchanting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very seductive.
BOURDAIN: There is no doubt in my mind that somewhere in the offices of like the Four Seasons hotel chain, they're looking at the sea front and thinking, you know, one of these days. You know, and cruise ships, you know, what happens then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, look...
BOURDAIN: Is this an inevitable march of progress? Am I being a snob?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, you're being very realistic. That's the concern of most Cubans. I wouldn't mind seeing one or two Starbucks around Havana, but hoping we don't go back to 1958, where the majority of Cuban companies were owned by American corporations.
BOURDAIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have got to believe that Cuba will want to
reserve some of the value that represents, you know, the hearts and soul of the Cuban people.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Last time I was in Havana, a meal at a paladar would have been rice and beans. Now, sushi. A certain sign of impending apocalypse.
(on camera): That's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten years ago this restaurant would have never been allowed, not only because private businesses were not allowed, but the external influence that you're seeing.
Remember, this is a country where chewing gum or listening to The Beatles were prohibited. I don't think we all need to have Twitter every day. I mean, one of the things I love about coming to Cuba is the fact that I can put my iPhone away.
Who cares? Look what we have around us. And I hope that Cubans, as continue to have access to free information, they still want to preserve these family times.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Tourists have been coming to Cuba for some time. Predominantly Europeans, many of them men of a certain age looking for, how shall we say, company.
But now it looks like Americans looking to live out fantasies of "Godfather II," will soon be able to do so. And it's all still here for them.
But there's new stuff, too. This is certainly new. Fabrica de Arte, the hottest spot in Havana. A nightclub, performance space, art gallery, highlighting artists, musicians and deejays from around the world. Questlove is scheduled to deejay here tomorrow night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a big bag (ph) when all the arts can fit inside.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Right.
(voice-over): What is going on here? I ask Inti Herrera and X Alfonso, two of the young entrepreneurs behind the place.
(on camera): Nothing like this ever existed before. Did the government bureau of arts help you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had -- at the beginning, we had subsidies from the ministry of culture. Even the building, we asked for the building because it was abandoned for 13 years.
BOURDAIN: The place is very popular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, yes.
BOURDAIN: Who comes here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people that love art but at the same time,
it's very diverse.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): It attracts a once unthinkable mix of foreigners and locals that enjoys the actual support of the government, without whom, of course, it couldn't exist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our chef here, we said, is part of the art world, you know, here.
BOURDAIN: A ceviche of dogfish with pickled vegetables. Loin of pork, pan-seared with yucca and a riff on a traditional orange sauce with garlic and coriander.
(on camera): Mmm, good.
What do you think is going to happen when the door opens and you have got hundreds of thousands of Americans flooding here, looking desperately to spend money on anything Cuban?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, man. We are a small country. We have to adapt to new things. But I think it's a good challenge.
BOURDAIN: I guess I'm asking, how do you keep it real when you'll all probably be millionaires in a few years?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think so?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not our goal in life, but that's...
BOURDAIN: Doesn't matter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it doesn't matter. We're going to have booths (ph) and more backers (ph).
BOURDAIN: More backers (ph).
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Havana still looks like you want it to look. Or maybe just how I want it to look. What was once one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America, left to the elements, left to collapse, were frozen gloriously in time.
In fits and starts, Cuba is changing, but it's not sugar or rum or tobacco or casino gambling that is the new god. It's tourism.
(on camera): All right. So here, Chinatown, such as it is. But are there any Chinese left in Havana?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There's a few new Chinese.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At one point the Chinese community in Cuba was huge, but they pretty much cleared out after the revolution, as did most of the Russian-Jewish emigres who were here.
So the state has erected a few quintessentially Chinatown gates, mustered the 14 Chinese people left in Havana to summon their relatives.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): For more than 35 years, John Lee Anderson (ph) has been reporting from conflict zones such as Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lied about my age and traveled around Africa. When I was 13, I told people I was 26.
BOURDAIN: In the early 1990s, while researching a biography of Che Guevara, he and his family moved to Cuba and ended up staying for three years.
(on camera): You lived here during the special period, which was not so special. That was the bad times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the bad times.
BOURDAIN: The Russians had pulled out. Soviets all done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy went like this, 90 percent, it just tanked.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Cuba lost 80 percent of its import goods, which led to widespread hunger, malnutrition, and a nosedive for the already difficult quality of life on the island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was one place where we could buy food, which was a Soviet-style place with food that was flown in. Quite bad food. Under Fidel's rule, that's the way it was.
BOURDAIN: It's like a cargo cult version of Chinese food here. Dumplings. The Szechuan chicken dish that's about as Szechuan as, well, I am.
(on camera): What's going to happen? What's next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The uptick in tourism, just after the December 17th announcement -- the surprise announcement by Raul and Obama in which they said, we have decided to make friends again, the surge in tourism and American interest in Cuba is like this. You now have an island where every room is for rent because you can
make $30 or $40 a day. That's more than a state employee makes in three months.
BOURDAIN: There will be wealthy hipsters, women in tiny black dresses drinking ironic riffs on the mojito, the lobby of the spanking new W Hotel with "oonce-oonce-oonce" in the background, and that's within five years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I would say so.
BOURDAIN: Will every Cuban have an inalienable right to free medical care and education at that time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what they're worried about. The last time I was here, which was in 2013, I counted eight to 10 homeless, garbage-eating people in the street. And I thought, wow, I've never seen that before in Cuba.
That's something that the old Cuba, the socialist Cuba that could look after all of its citizens, would never have allowed. It's allowing it now. This period we're here in, it's the lull before it all hits.
The train is coming. It's either going to roar by and they're going to be able to jump on and go with it, or it's going to derail and it will be a mess. All of it's possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom is asking me if you would like to taste the rice?
BOURDAIN: Oh, it's fantastic.
(voice-over): Like a lot of Cubans, Yosimi Rodriguez (ph) lives in same working class neighborhood where she was born.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I live with my mom, my sister, my niece. Of course I would like to have my own bedroom. But there are people who don't have a house.
BOURDAIN: You were a translator, is that correct? And you are now a journalist?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, well, I've been writing for Havana Times and then I write also for (INAUDIBLE), which is another independent Web site.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): She struggles to eke out a living in an industry where the state firmly controls all media.
(on camera): What subjects in particular are of interest to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racial issues.
BOURDAIN: Racial disparity. Now this is something that the revolution promised to address. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their main mistake was to say that they had
eradicated racism, that just like it could be eradicated just like that. On the street, for instance, policemen, the first people they stop, black people. If you're black, you are a potential criminal.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Her mom, Rosa (ph), prepares a cabbage stew with carrots, tomatoes, and green beans for her as Yosimi is a rare vegetarian on an island where pork is king.
(on camera): Oh, fantastic, look at that.
(voice-over): And for us, pork marinated in garlic, onion, and sour orange.
(on camera): Please tell your mom it's superb, really excellent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, (SPEAKING SPANISH).
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
You have a very highly educated public here, one of the most literate nations on earth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's funny, we are highly educated, as you said, but we're behind concerning Internet and all that stuff. Most the folks have access to only the official media, the official newspaper.
If Internet comes, and I think the government is trying to delay it, if that comes, many things will change. People will have access to different points of view, and I don't think our government wants that.
BOURDAIN: If everything goes well, what will Havana be like? What will this neighborhood be like in five years?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, having a prosperous society doesn't guarantee that it is the same for everyone. You know, you see these people who have been able to use opportunities to open businesses, to open successful restaurants.
Those opportunities are there, but I cannot use them because I don't have money. I don't think it is possible to have a perfect society, but I think it is possible to try.
How you like the food?
BOURDAIN: Oh, it's delicious. Really good. Thank you.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): All Cuba seems waiting for something. For whatever it is that happens next. Today, that's the roar of Detroit's finest. Circa 1959 and before, of course. American dream machines tricked out, babied, pampered, jury-rigged or simply held together with duct tape and bailing wire.
(on camera): Nice. What's under the hood?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: V8 American engines. We buy spares. We bring the spares from America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we think about through the week is our machines, our V8 engines. You know, car racing in Cuba, they love it here as much as they love baseball.
BOURDAIN: Whoa, that's serious.
(voice-over): Los Amigos del Motor are diehard gearheads, drag racers who for more than 20 years have been defying the law and escaping the grind of daily life by pressing pedal to the metal and hurdling down the highway faster, faster, fast as they can go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just find the best part of the day when there's not so much traffic. You get hundreds and hundreds of people on both sides of the road.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Now before it was absolutely illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has always been illegal. It's only the last couple of weeks that we're going to get sponsorship from the minister of the sports.
BOURDAIN: Everything is changing. It's entirely possible that soon you'll be able to order any part, any car, any car in the world. You can have it tomorrow. What would it be?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corvette.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corvette.
BOURDAIN: Corvette. Which year?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a lunar picnic. It's only to be seen at night. The grills are painted with this fluorescent painting. It's very surrealistic. It's a weird sensation. It's like, make you hungry somehow.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Along with his creative partner Marco Castillo, Dago Rodriguez is half of Los Carpinteros, an artistic entity whose work is shown and collected all over the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single (INAUDIBLE) is a different thing. We have different technology to fabricate and to develop.
BOURDAIN: Los Carpinteros have managed to stay in the government's good graces by widely using irony to make their points. In the brutally competitive and capricious contemporary art world outside of Cuba, they are stars. They make a lot of money. But they always return home to Havana.
(on camera): Ah, looks like we'll be eating well.
(voice-over): Tonight it's a party in Dago's backyard. Kelvis Ochoa (ph) has made his much-loved pig's head soup, with pumpkin, corn, peppers, and sweet potatoes, casaba, and plantain.
(on camera): If I saw somebody's house, it was just an ordinary home, but they created their own fast food franchise, they made it look as if it was part of a chain, it was like, you know, Mr. Burger or something like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place can be a (INAUDIBLE) for fast food.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope they don't come here soon.
BOURDAIN: Yes, well, this is my biggest fear is that there will be a big glass box of a W Hotel, and start seeing Starbucks and Victoria's Secret, and, you know, all the people who make every place look the same. It would be awful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but we have a 50-year lack of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a big problem. The people will freak out with money when they have the money here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. But, I mean, I think if there's a $200 million hotel project that's sustainable, that preserves the facade of the city, that will get approved first before anything super American per se, you know?
BOURDAIN: Whoa, what's he cooking over there?
(voice-over): Can't forget the whole roasted pig, a few years back, a pretty unthinkable luxury for just about everybody.
(on camera): Oh, wow, soup.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is (INAUDIBLE). They have no money. They have no money.
BOURDAIN: Yes, for -- yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: None of the pesticides and the hormones yet.
BOURDAIN: Ooh, wow.
(voice-over): And tamales steamed in the broth from the pig's head soup.
(on camera): Life is good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that our culture is so strong that it's going to take a lot of tourists and a lot of boats -- how do you say?
BOURDAIN: Cruise ships.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cruise ships. It's going to take a lot of cruise ships to dissolve this (INAUDIBLE). We're always like this with or without tourists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a typical street of this neighborhood. Houses of wood, houses of concrete. The street is not in good condition. Here was the bus station. It's not a bus station anymore. Now it's a building. It's a monument of the past.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Montea (ph) is a suburb of Havana, home to one of Cuba's most celebrated writers.
LEONARDO PADURA, AUTHOR (through translator): My name is Leonardo Padura, I am a writer. And we are in the house where I have lived my whole life.
There are a lot of lines in the Cuban reality that apparently cannot be trespassed. But I think they can be crossed, or at least they can be pushed.
BOURDAIN: Author of the internationally successful Mario Conde detective series, Padura has been able to portray the daily struggles, the absurdities of life in Cuba. It's a delicate dance, and few have been able to replicate it.
(on camera): Your hero in the books, does he live in this neighborhood or another neighborhood?
PADURA: More or less. More or less.
(on camera): Happy place to grow up, this neighborhood?
PADURA: Yes, yes, yes. Totally free.
BOURDAIN: I notice a lot of people just hanging out. Who lives here? PADURA: All kinds of people. Doctors, for example, engineers,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
PADURA: And people who make nothing, like that guy.
PADURA: He don't make nothing.
BOURDAIN: How does he live?
PADURA: Trying to find something to do or something to sell. Making a small business.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Cafeteria a la BBQ is only one example of a booming do-it-yourself service industry. It's a place where you get a lot of bang for your money. Nothing fancy. Just delicious. Fried pork, plantains. And the kind of silky, deeply satisfying beans that dreams are made of.
(on camera): This is good, good beans.
BOURDAIN: You've never had a book blacklisted or banned in Cuba?
PADURA: No. Fortunately, no.
BOURDAIN: Have you been able to say everything that you wanted to say?
PADURA: I try to be the most honest writer that I can be, and I think that I say all that I can say. The problem is that we need in Cuba a lot of money, because it's a very beautiful city, but the people have many problems to live, with the space, with the structure of the buildings.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): For dessert.
(on camera): Awesome.
(voice-over): Flan, cooked in a cut down beer can.
(on camera): Thank you.
You're a successful author. You've been around the world, you've traveled?
BOURDAIN: During difficult periods of Cuban history, I'm sure you had many opportunities to live in Miami or Barcelona or Los Angeles. And yet you stayed in the same house, the same neighborhood. Why? PADURA: Because I like it. I need to live in Cuba, near to the Cuban
people, near to the Cuban language. For me, it's very, very important.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Yes, the future is here. But the past, too, is everywhere. The buildings, the cars, the gears of the whole system are still largely stuck in time.
JUANA BACALLAO, SINGER (through translator): My name is Juana Bacallao. Juana la Cubana.
BOURDAIN: Ninety-three-year-old Juana Bacallao is very much a part of that past.
BACALLAO: I have dedicated myself to my art, to singing for the people my entire life.
BOURDAIN: Long before the revolution, she was a shining star at the Meyer Lansky's Tropicana, singing for Capone, Luciano, you know the names.
BACALLAO: Always "Juana! Juana!" when I try to get into my car. And that is the life I have always known with the people.
I go on stage every day at midnight, with my orchestra.
Cuba has always been divine. It is a wonderful fountain of friends. All the people love me. As long as there is light I will sing.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Cuba is not Havana. It's a bigger country than you might imagine, and the road to Santiago de Cuba, the country's second-largest city, takes you 12 hours on their less-than- modern highway system.
Along the way, you see agrarian Cuba, the country in which most Cubans lived pre-revolution.
Santiago is a poorer city. It's blacker. And unlike Havana, the symbols and faces of the revolution still seem to mean something.
These Brutalist prefab workers' housing complexes are everywhere here, and at first glance, hell, at second glance, they look like something you would house animals in. But for many previously living even poorer, harsher lives in the countryside, these offered something new. Each group of buildings came with a doctor, a school.
Still, they look about as grim as grim can be. Yet, Santiago is anything but grim. Siboney Beach is where locals go on the weekend to kick back with family, drink the best rum in Cuba, which means the best rum anywhere, swim, hang with family and friends. (on camera): Hola, gentlemen, we will be needing some bassos (ph).
(voice-over): Ranel (ph) is our local fixer. Ruben (ph) is in the bar business. Sergio (ph) rents rooms to the occasional tourist, everybody getting by, making the adjustment to private enterprise Cuba in their own way.
(on camera): Until a few years ago, you couldn't rent or sell, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No. It was different. Years ago you could rent...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A long time ago was allowed to rent house but no sell and buy.
BOURDAIN: What kind of fish is this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dorado.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's huge.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Fresh-caught dorado and lobster is on the menu.
(on camera): Do they think this is going to change? I mean, look, we've all been following the news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will have a tourism that we've never had before. North American tourists.
BOURDAIN: Right. Half an hour away. I mean, they can basically take a boat over for lunch. What do you think Americans want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have no idea, because they have never talked to an American tourist before.
BOURDAIN: Looking good now, man. Good rum, cold beer, good fish, good lobster. You'll be needing a blender for pina coladas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they have no machine, they're going to do it by hand.
BOURDAIN: Let me put it this way, my friend, you're going to be making a lot of pina coladas. I think you're going to need the machine.
(voice-over): Night time is party time, where everybody, it appears, at least from when I was there, hit the streets. Mom, dad, sis, even grandma get, well, crazy.
It used to be son and trova that ruled the streets. This was where those musical styles were born, after all. But now it's reggaeton and, of course, hip hop.
Alain Garcia (ph) is the leader of the Santiago-based hip hop trio TNT la Resistencia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been making hip hop for 15 years, which is quite difficult here in Cuba. We've been in jail three days once just for make hip hop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely it's a change in Cuba, but I don't think it's because the relations with the United States are getting better. It's because the people just realize we need change. We still want a kind of society where every participates, everyone is determining the future of our society.
BOURDAIN (on camera): so born and bred in Santiago, where the good rum comes from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
BOURDAIN: So tell me, music business in Santiago, but what are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music here is more important than a plate of food for people. When it's Carnival sometimes people doesn't have money for proper food, but they've got money for like a jar of beer and just enjoying that beer in a place with music.
BOURDAIN: How much American hip hop do you get here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get actually quite a lot. It's by friends. Someone came from outside, then was passed to me and then passed to my friends, and that's it. It's hand by hand.
In the beginnings, in the '90s, we start to make hip hot here, and we get a lot of problems. People came from the States, they are like the everlasting enemy of the revolution, so you are making the music, a protest music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have been a couple times in jail just for songs.
BOURDAIN: So now you can make money performing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: You can maybe make money selling?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CDs in the streets, but actually right now, more possibilities are common. We have the opportunity to like promote the music. We have the opportunity to having access to Internet, free access, I mean.
BOURDAIN: That's going to be the biggest thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. If you want to spend your holidays proper in Cuba, just come to Santiago. I've got a couple of things to show to you. BOURDAIN: Cheers, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheers, man. To Santiago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hola.
BOURDAIN: Let's do it.
Hi, I'm Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is George (ph).
BOURDAIN: How long you have been driving a taxi?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For more than 20 years.
BOURDAIN: For mostly Cubans or tourists?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, tourists, most of them Spanish, Italian, even people from Canada, a lot of Canadian people.
BOURDAIN: You from Santiago?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was born in Santiago. I was (INAUDIBLE). I used to live in Russia for (INAUDIBLE). I started there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was really young (ph). And I really enjoyed it.
BOURDAIN: Oh, yes? Because it's supposed to be cold there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine the difference, Cuba, Russia, snow? The first time I saw, I sent to my mom a lot of pictures of holding snow, throwing snow.
BOURDAIN: So what were you studying in Russia?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mechanical engineering.
BOURDAIN: So you went from engineering to taxi driving?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. In 1990s, the Russians left us alone. We got in trouble with the economy, so I have to change my job. BOURDAIN: So it looks like the embargo might end, you know, a lot of
money going to start coming to Cuba. Do you think it's going to change?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the American businessmen will invest in Cuba, and that will be good for everyone.
BOURDAIN: How about going back to engineering?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, that will depend on how much it would pay.
BOURDAIN: All right, OK.
(voice-over): What next for Cuba? Something is coming. It will come from out there, but also from within Cuba. It's already happening, but what is it? Everybody knows, everybody can feel it, it smells like freedom, but will it be victory?