Cavorting In Cuba…

Havana, Cuba
Havana, Cuba

Amazing…no cell or internet for more than one week and I am still standing.

First Mojito
First Mojito

Back to devilish behavior.

Colleen, David, John
Colleen, David, John

Cuba was beyond incredible, although I must confess that arrival and departure is harrowing. Put your patient panties on before making the journey. A 42 minute plane ride from Miami takes a minimum of six stressful hours each way.

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Rules and procedure as free world travelers do not apply. I do believe things will improve when travel on U.S. airlines from major cities other than Miami kick in.

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You are just one of hundreds standing in line. We packed efficiently in our usual regulation size carry on and they would not allow us to board with the luggage. It traveled in the belly of the aircraft with the literally 243 oversized items (car tires, car front seats, bicycles, refrigerators, microwaves, the list is endless)…unexplainable.

Retrieving our luggage in Havana at Jose Marti International Airport took almost 2 hours. Our charter left three hours late, partially because it 2 hours to load the endless stream of cargo. Reminder: the entire flight took 42 minutes.

Courtny, Ebony, Spencer
Courtny, Ebony, Spencer

We arrived and met our phenomenal guide, Ebony. She is ‘grand’ and very accommodating. Group tour traveling has never made my bucket list, but traveling to Cuba entails acquiring a specialized visa and traveling with a group. Our educational activities focused  on art and dance.

Ford Fairlane
Ford Fairlane

We pirouetted out of the airport and into a vintage American Ford sedan…what a hoot. The weather was warm, but not nearly as hot and humid as Miami.

Hotel Capri
Hotel Capri

We checked into our deluxe third world hotel, Capri by the ocean. I use the word deluxe loosely. It was clean and had recently reopened, but we suspect that the Cuban School for the Blind participated in the renovations.

Cuban Lobster
Cuban Lobster

We were whisked off to a beautiful Palador (private restaurant…state owned restaurants make McDonald’s appear gourmet). I had my first Cuban lobster…delicious and proceeded to dine on lobster daily.

Mercury Convertible
Mercury Convertible

Our first adventure was touring the intoxicating city of Havana in a vintage American Mercury convertible. What a delight!

CHe Chevara
CHe Chevara

On the custom route was Plaza de la Revolucion. We viewed portraits of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro whose portrait bore a striking resemblance to Osama Bin Laden.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

Old Havana (Habana Vieja) is mesmerizing. The redevelopment of the area has been done tastefully. It consists of four imposing squares, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Armas and Plaza de San Francisco. Over 60,000 people live within the confines of Old Havana.

Butcher Shop
Butcher Shop

Once you wander outside the revitalized area you are in hard core third world surroundings. Many of the old buildings, which must have been magnificent in Havana’s heyday, are filled to the brim with residents living in squalid conditions.

Havana Living Conditions
Havana Living Conditions

There are so many magical Cuban highlights I simply do not know where to begin.

Tobacco Leaves Drying
Tobacco Leaves Drying

We journeyed outside the city to lush countryside to take in a tobacco ranch in the Pinar del Rio province. Seeds are provided annually by the government and 90% of the crop is sold back to the government by the farmers  at a decent price.

Countryside near Pinares
Countryside near Pinar del Rio

Many entrepeneurial Cubans are closely watched and heavily taxed. The government wants to keep all citizens on the same socio-economic plane. The average worker earns $15 per month.

Jose Fuster's Home
Jose Fuster’s Home

It is the Cuban Biennal and we saw a great deal of artwork. The sculpture was very impressive. One artistic revelation is the home and surrounding community of world-renown painter and ceramist, Jose Fuster in Jaimanitas, a suburb of Havana. Jaimanitas borders Miramar, the once opulent suburb of Havana.

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Fuster’s art pays homage to Gaudi and Picasso and his work emerges from the road like an artistic phoenix rising.

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The food was so much better than expected. The pace is very slow and the Cuban people friendly and welcoming.

San Francisco Square
Plaza de San Francisco

I have so much to impart…stick around.

Old Square
Plaza Vieja
Theater
Gran Teatro de la Habana

One Comment

  1. Cuba seems really interesting. It’s a popular destination from Canada, but we have not yet been there. Great photos.

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