Letters: In Cuba, what you see may not reflect its harsh reality

A view of the skyline toward Old Havana from a restaurant rooftop bar.
A view of the skyline toward Old Havana from a restaurant rooftop bar.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

I read Catherine Watson’s article on Cuba (“The Cuba Conundrum,” Nov. 10) with interest. I found the comments on Cuba’s healthcare and its healthy children naive and misinformed. I visited Cuba for the first time last year to connect with my roots. Some of the most important items I took with me were medications: a Costco-sized bottle of Advil for a relative who has arthritis; prescription meds for another with prostate cancer; compression stockings for someone else.

While I was in Cuba, people described how doctors must be bribed so you have a chance to obtain the medications you need. One told me of a newborn with several health issues, and the Cuban doctor’s recommended course of action was to collect rainwater for her to drink.

Cuba has many charms — warm and friendly people, lively music, beautiful landscapes — but its healthcare is not one of them.

Elizabeth Gough
La Crescenta


Too bad, Americans

In re: “New Rules for Cuba Travel,” On the Spot, by Catharine Hamm, Nov. 10: Good day from Canada. It’s a real shame y’all can’t spend a lot of time on the beaches in Cuba. I’ve been visiting Cuba for almost 20 years and look forward to discovering a new beach every time.

We’re even surprised by the cuisine now and again because one does not go there for a gastronomic adventure.

The pleasant weather, beautiful people and the sugary soft white sand lapped by turquoise waters....

Nothing wrong with their beer and rum either.


Chuck Rigelhof

Calabogie, Ontario

Czech Republic, unplugged

The delightful article about global electrical outlets and converters (“Staying Plugged In,” by Terry Gardner, Nov. 10) reminded us of our experience in Prague, Czech Republic. We discovered our converter worked in outlets in one part of the room, but not in the other. The desk staff explained to us that the hotel, built during Soviet rule, indeed had different outlets throughout, some of them “north Europe” and the others “south Europe.”

Apparently the demarcation line between north and south ran through our room, pitting the entry vestibule and bathroom against the bedroom.


The converter we packed had several adaptations, so we were able to keep cameras and phones charged and bring back a story to share with the L. A. Times Travel section.

Dave Middleton and Kathy Hudgins

Rancho Mirage

Wrong on the round-up

I was sorry to see in the Nov. 10 Tipsheet (“Time to Get Along, Little Dogies,” by Mike Morris) a recommendation for the Sweetwater, Texas, rattlesnake roundup.


The mass slaughter of rattlesnakes is nothing to be proud of. Rattlesnakes inhabited what is now Texas long before humans arrived on the scene.

Rattlesnakes have an ecological role in nature just as birds, rabbits, deer or any other species. It’s bad enough that people demonize snakes, but why does a usually reasonable paper like The Times support and promote it? Get educated.

Henry Hespenheide
Emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, UCLA
Hermosa Beach

It’s taxing

Reader Glen Mowrer writes in the Nov. 10 Letters column that gasoline prices are “higher in California in large part because California oil companies have a choke-hold in the state.”


But Mowrer ignores that fact that California has the nation’s highest state tax on gasoline at 61.2 cents a gallon, which is more than double the national average (excluding California).

A typical fill-up of 15 gallons in California carries a tax of $4.68 more than the national average. It’s long been fashionable to blame oil companies for this and other ills, but the facts say otherwise.

Yet another example of business being blamed for problems caused by government regulation.

Mike Berliner


Los Angeles

Double standard?

Recently, while perusing the website of a hotel in Dublin, Ireland, I came upon a document aimed at solo female guests who were traveling for work. In it was a list of ways the hotel could cater to their needs.

The list included putting women in rooms beside elevators, not reading their room numbers aloud upon check-in, providing full-length mirrors and offering low-calorie meals. We should be able to check into a hotel without the assumption that we are in some way responsible for the behavior that may harm us.

To assume these are the needs of women is a reflection on how society view us as a collective.


A man traveling for work would never be handed a similar document. It is assumed that his mind is busy thinking about deadlines and closing deals, because his appearance and personal safety are not things he needs to worry about.

Women should not have to sneak around a hotel whispering their room number and triple locking the door of their room near an elevator as they eat low-calorie food.

It is time that society shines a light on the people we are trying to protect women from and shame them into altering their behavior.

I’d like to make the radical suggestion that women’s lives are more than avoiding attacks and being slim.


Holly Meade

Dublin, Ireland

Short but salient

I have been reading the Los Angeles Times for more than 60 years and have always turned to the Travel section first on Sundays. I find Christopher Reynolds’ articles to be informative and interesting enough to provoke me into taking a trip or two through the years.

I’m writing less about the trip and more about the photography advice Reynolds offers on his trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (“Tips for Better Pictures,” Oct. 27). I have attended lectures and read photo magazines and their advice columns but never have I received information as compact as that which Reynolds espoused: “If the picture is not good enough, get closer.” So simple, yet so informative.


James Ruebsamen
Palos Verdes Estates