Blogs from Cuba, Central America Caribbean - page 6


Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas September 11th 2014

Shopping Sprees (blog by Stan) I was getting my haircut today on the side patio of the neighborhood barber (a teenager who dreams of getting to America someday). He asked if I had traveled to other countries, and then asked which of all the places I had been I liked the most. I said Cuba, of course. He responded that he thought Cuba would be a great place to live if you had money, but the constant worry about how to survive on the $10 to $40 monthly salaries drives everybody crazy. I am sure there’s some truth in what he said, that part of why I love being here is that I have money (albeit not much by American standards, but I might as well be a millionaire by Cuban standards). I don’t have to ... read more
avocadoes at the farmer's market
our friend Omar
The Variety Store

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas September 11th 2014

Two Months and Counting (blog post from Kim) Stan and I are two months into our ten month stay in Cuba, and I believe we are settling into a healthy and blessed routine, blessed by God, by your love and prayers and by the friendship of the people here. We are quite content at the Matanzas seminary, getting to know the kitchen staff, the men who have duty at the entrances and the other support staff. I am still practicing names, but today I got 100% when I remembered one of the workers’ names correctly. (I had been getting 50% at best for a while, and that was on guesses.) I have been able to help wash dishes and to work a bit in the organic garden. I would call it a small farm actually, and ... read more
leading worship
With kitchen friends Waquidea and Mamita
dominoes with friends

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas September 8th 2014

I had planned to take the same taxi driver on to Playa Girón. When a taxi showed up, I was disappointed, yet not surprised, to find a different driver and two passengers already in the car. I asked if it would be cheaper and explained the deal I had made with the driver the day before, but he didn’t go down in price. That made it easy to tell him to take a hike and wait around to take the bus with the Germans. I was actually happy to be on a comfortable, nearly empty bus where I could easily nap my hangover away. It was, as always, good to be moving again. I had been realizing how soon my trip would be over, and it was a relief to be getting closer and closer to ... read more
Demitri and Kari
Demitri's grandson

Central America Caribbean » Cuba September 7th 2014

Let's begin at the beginning. Cuba is bloody hot in August and this is a problem. I imagine the feeling when stepping off that plane in Holgiun and into the inferno can't be a world away from what a lobster experiences when it's dropped into a pan of boiling water. Speaking of which, it turns out lobster is really tasty, especially when it comes as part of a three course meal costing you about £6. Cuba is a pretty unusual place. Since Fidel Castro's revolution in the 1950s, the island has been stuck in a time warp. In 2008 the newly inaugurated president Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, made it legal for Cubans to own mobile phones and DVD players and stay in tourist hotels. In 2011 he allowed Cubans to buy and sell their homes and ... read more
Our casa in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba

Central America Caribbean » Cuba August 26th 2014

After a wonderful day diving, it was time to get moving again. I had arranged with my taxi driver the day before for my ride to El Nicho waterfall and onto the town of Trinidad. It was necessary to take a taxi in order to get to the waterfall which was pretty much on the way to Trinidad. The driver was a bit enamored of me, and I took this into consideration when he arrived on time, told me to sit shotgun and stopped for me to get a pizza and water for breakfast. He was the first driver to arrive on time and not change the price on me. He tried flattering me by telling me if I stayed in Cuba for three more months no one would be able to tell I wasn’t ... read more
First View of El Nicho
The pools

Central America Caribbean » Cuba August 25th 2014

Cuba, Wow! This place is beautiful and grungy all at once. The buildings around Cuba are stunning old relics of a bygone era. Walking around, you see buildings that would be national monuments in NZ, but are just commonplace here and some of them are going to wrack and ruin. There are two currencies, one for tourists and one for cubans. The Cuban Convertibles (CUC) are 1 to 1 with the USD and the Moneda National Pesos (MN pesos) are 24 to one CUC. We changed CUC into MN Pesos and brought loads of pizzas and fruit to save money. Cuba is HOT, we found out from a lot of Cubans that the weeks we were there were the hottest they remember. Phew. We were above 35 degrees every day and the humidity was intense. The ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas August 23rd 2014

Soul Food (reflection by Stan) While there is much greater diversity in Cuban cuisine than I had previously thought, black beans and rice still provide the anchor, the go-to staple for the vast majority of households. I have shared a few items from our culture, such as the grilled cheese sandwich and deviled eggs, and people are generally polite and gracious in their responses, but I don’t think there’s any danger that these will become standard fare here. So we have learned the art of beans and rice, which is lesson one in preparing a full Cuban meal. After soaking the beans, you pressure cook them with about double the amount of water as beans, for 25 minutes. Take the pressure cooker off the heat (we have, like most folks, a small, portable stove with one ... read more
Rice and Beans under the Meat
Street Fair Food
Street Theatre

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas August 22nd 2014

Got My Mojito Workin’ (reflection by Kim) I have found a great conversation starter (with strangers as well as friends) to be: “So how do you make your mojito?” The mojito I am referring to is not the famous mixed drink, but a topping for cooked starchy vegetables, such as potatoes. (The word comes from “mojo”, the Spanish word for broth). I have gained some fame here already for my love of this delicious topping. The mojito is used on yucca, melanga, boñato, squash and guaguí (a small version of the melanga). I have found that Cuban people are quite invested in their style and individual tips for the best mojito. Most people agree on the ingredients, but there is a bit of variation even on those, so I will share a bit of my research. ... read more
friends in church camp kitchen
Rafaela preparing yucca
Kim harvesting some garlic for the mojito

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Cienfuegos August 21st 2014

Cuban Blog Day #16 Ask For What You Want. You Just Might Get It Diving! When you live in Colorado, it’s a little hard to SCUBA dive. I make sure every trip I take includes some sort of diving so as not to get rusty. It still doesn’t work all that well. Each new dive, I’m a little nervous and worried that I may have forgotten how to do it. To ease that worry I’m not shy about telling my Dive Master that it’s been awhile since my last dive. This usually results in a little extra attention underwater, which in turns relaxes me a bit. I got to the dive shop and was happy to see it wasn’t a full boat, just a Canadian girl and two older Mexican men. While getting ready, I casually ... read more
Dream come true

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas August 18th 2014

A Comer (a reflection by Stan) “A comer!” It’s the call to the table – “let’s eat!” Or you can say “al ataque,” that is, “dig in.” There’s so much to write about the Cuban culture of food, I’ll need several blogs. Using the “farm to fork” model, I’ll start with the fork, the actual meals we’re enjoying, and work my way back in future blogs to talk about food prep, shopping, and Cuban agriculture, all of which provide fascinating contrasts to the American food culture. To begin with, breakfast is simple, a piece of bread and coffee. Lunch consists of leftovers from the night before, from the comida, the dinner meal, the big meal of the day. I’ll try and describe a “dream comida” – what the typical fare might be for the a-typical family ... read more
Kim and Paco with Birthday Cake
Armando's Merienda
Stan's treat -- cafe with mango and bananas

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