I was there in 2002 for 3 weeks. The trip from the Havana airport to the small hotel was eye-opening. It was Our liaison drove us from Havana, all the way across the country in 1 day at about 125 mph for hrs and hrs on end, on our journey to Baracoa - where they make wonderful chocolate - to a nice hotel on the top of a small hill overlooking the ocean and the small inlet harbour bay with a large, old, half-sunken rusted ship. While we ate dinner that first night, a 4 piece mariachi band played at our table. The last portion of that drive was past Guantanamo, then right along the ocean for like 50 miles with nothing but mountain on the left and ocean on the right. No people, no cars, no buildings.
At night you would see farmers burning their fallow fields in restorative efforts in the process of regeneration. In the island interior there are small cities, each with a small town square often with a beautiful statue of an explorer from the 1500s.
There were open farm fields and planted ones, and green, mid-level mountains off in the near horizon. Often there was only running water for half of the day, and often there was no hot water, so you had to take a cold shower.
Often there were no toilet seats, so you had to squat.
In the middle of the country there would be public restrooms that were either just holes on the ground that you squatted over, or perhaps a small rock shack with holes inside. In the towns they would set up "porta- potties" that were simply 4-walled barriers, and you just piss or shit on the street behind the barrier.
Every morning you would wake up to the sound of multiple roosters cock a doodle doo-ing in the warm yellow sunrise over the wild unkept fields and palm trees. Sometimes the "bug truck" would drive through town to kill mosquitos billowing smoke out the back of what looked like an old garbage truck. They would give a warning and people would run for any building they could find, and duck for cover as the truck slowly drove around filling the town with smoke. We stopped in the middle of the country while driving and an old man saw us from a town about a mile away and brought his old mule driven cart out to us and sold us like 15 hand grow, hand rolled cigars for $1. Then he went back to get more, but we had to go. The people were so poor and would just walk around with plastic bags full of chicken guts or whatever they were going to eat. Or just hang around with nothing to do, and run and play in the beat up old streets. We were encouraged to tip $1 to people if and when we could. People there eat meat only a few times per month, Get there water from mountain springs, and have nothing. Everything they had was old and maintained through ingenius resourcefulness. There were very few cars, but the ones they had were from the 50's, and if you were driving somewhere you were encouraged to pick up walkers, which there were always some. There were lots and lots of huge colorful "Viva La Revolution" signs with Che or Fidel or guns holding up rifles everywhere - it was pretty cool. Havana was more like a regular touristy place with a very old, narrow street sections, and war memorial buildings. It was right on the ocean and right off shore was large old military fort in the water. We bought 2 boxes ea of Cuban cigars (at American prices) from the top shelf place in Havana and had no problems bringing them back through customs in Miami.