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Published: April 28th 2006
Get a load of the view from our balcony
On the 12th headed east out of Havana to Trinidad. On the way to the Zapata Peninsula there were endless fields of citrus trees & sugar cane. Stopped for a yummy lobster-tail lunch at a roadhouse and had a swim in the Caribbean - fabulous. Visited the Museum Giron dedicated to the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion by US-supported Cuban exiles against the Communist regime. Fascinating stuff. Stopped in Cienfuegos for a coffee break. A local did a caricature of me, which you generally pay 1CUC.
On the road to Trinidad there were thousands of crabs crossing the road to lay their eggs. As the vehicles travelled along and squashed the unlucky ones, flocks of turkey vultures would descend to pick at the fresh road-kill.
Our hotel was overbooked so we got upgraded to an all-inclusive resort by the Caribbean Sea, which meant all-you-can drink cocktails. Endless mojito's, daiquiris & pina coladas on the beach - we couldn't believe our luck.
On the 13th, did a city tour of Trinidad. The street layout was said to deliberately confuse the pirates like Henry Morgan. Whilst visiting a heritage colonial private hacienda & listening to the guide, I heard a
huge SQUEAL behind me. Mini had accidentally backed onto an old power point which singhed her hair & gave her an electric shock. Freaky. Also went to a shop to watch someone make Cuban cigars. You don´t come to Cuba if you are not going to smoke a stogey, so couldn't resist trying the finished product. The whole idea is to taste the cigar smoke, you never inhale it. Mini bought a pack of 10 to take home.
Even though Cuba is a Communist country the unofficial religion is still Catholicism - the last Pope has even been here. But the local religion called Santeria is the most widely practised, and is a mix of African and Catholic religions. Rum is used as an offering to the gods - my kind of religion. We went to a local temple which was really interesting.
Afterwards went to a local bar to listen to and try out some percussion instruments. They played a Santeria cleansing ceremony and also rumba & salsa music. Also tried the nice local Trinidad drink called Canchanchara which is made with rum, lime, honey and water.
For lunch we had Peso Pizzas, using the local
Note from Che
In reference to military operations for the Bay of Pigs invasion
Cuban Peso's which equate to 1CUC = 24 Cuban Pesos. So at 10 peso's each for a ham & cheese pizza, it only cost me A$0.50.
Dinner was at a local paladar (where people have turned their homes into restaurants). And then we had some salsa lessons which was hilarious and great fun.
I've heard varying reports from others that the food in Cuba is awful. We haven't really experienced that at all. They definitely like to fry everything, and use a lot of sugar and salt. But we have been pleasantly surprised by the food from fresh fish, lobster, chicken, pork, salads and veggies, and best of all the beans and rice which has been delicious. Fruit is fantastic - lots of papaya, oranges, pineapple, guava, and bananas. One thing is that the portions are huge like in the USA, so we have been sharing a main meal every so often.
A couple more Cubanism´s to finish off with. Almost 70% of Cuban men don´t work and generally loiter around and make catcalls and flirtatious remarks as you pass by. This is most likely because they have relatives overseas, and if they only get say US$20
a month from them, this is more than they would earn on average in Cuba.
Cuba loves nothing more than sticking it to the US. I´m not sure if anyone remembers the case of a 5-year old boy called Elian Gonzales, who in 1999 was on a raft with his mother as she wanted a better life for him in the USA. Anyway she died, but Elian survived, and there was a year-long court battle as to who should get custody - his natural father in Cuba, or the distant relations in Miami. There were huge demonstrations in Cuba and a statue erected of Jose Marti holding a little boy and pointing an accusatory finger at the US Interests Office in Havana (not an embassy). Not exactly subtle. In the end the court awarded custody to the father. It is said that he has done extremely well and has all sorts of privileges & luxuries, with Fidel Castro himself even attending Elian´s 12th birthday.
A lot of Cubans have perished by trying to get to the USA by any means possible. As a result the USA and Cuba made a joint pact to issue 20,000 visas by annual
lottery to stop this - 10,000 from Washington DC & 10,000 from Havana.
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