Blogs from Cuba, Central America Caribbean - page 6


Central America Caribbean » Cuba October 17th 2014

My alarm didn’t go off today, so I was lucky the Germans were their usual late. We ate breakfast quickly and piled into Dimitri’s car to drive the 1 ½ to 2 hour drive to Havana. I was grateful to be in a car and not a bus and therefore get there much quicker. I slept most of the way there. Dimitri took us to his cousin’s casa which was in the heart of Havana Vieja (Old Havana). The Germans had been to Havana in the beginning of their trip, and they were very excited about our location, as was I. We were also quite happy with the price, which though it was the most expensive casa of my whole trip at $25 CUC with breakfast, was still quite cheap for the big city. I said ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas October 17th 2014

Remembering (blog by Stan) Cuban folks can’t help but remember history; they are surrounded by historical references at every turn. We live, for example on the Second of May Street, and shop at the Eighth of March convenient store. Siempre 26 (Forever the 26th) is plastered on many buildings and signs, a reference to July 26, 1953, the opening salvo of revolution. I am writing this blog on October 10, Independence Day, honoring the beginning of Cuba’s war for independence from Spain. Last month, on September 28, we found our streets filled with chalked messages celebrating the birthday of the CDR, Cuba’s highly controversial “neighborhood watch” program. That night, every block had a party, with loud music, food, and dominos. In a few days there will be another national holiday, Cuban Culture day, on October 20. ... read more
Stan and Maestro, 2010
Kim's mime sketch
Maestro with the angel

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas October 17th 2014

Cuba and Harry Potter (blog by Kim) As promised, here are some ways I have been reminded of Harry Potter in Cuba. As I said last time, the streets are skinny here in Matanzas. And there are several forms of buses that whip around, full to overflowing with passengers. Most of the streets are one way, and so one day when I saw one large tour bus pass another one, I held my breath and imagined that Ernie of the Night Bus was one of the drivers doing his magic to get his bus to his destination the quickest. And it all happened amongst lots of horn blowing, with mototcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists trying to get to their destinations. My earliest connection to Harry Potter came when we arrived back in July. We were able to ... read more
Daniel, aka Dumbledore
a seminary pet for Hagrid
-camel- bus getting ready to make a pass

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro » Trinidad October 14th 2014

The tour began by bus to Cienfuegos with the heat and humidity forcing our first (but not last) stop at the ice cream store. We’d heard of the ice cream stores (government subsidised – brilliant!) and treated ourselves, only to find out later we’d paid in Cuban Convertibles (matched to the USD) instead of Cuban local Pesos (24 = 1 Convertible). We were very happy with our icecream until we realised we’d paid 24 times too much! Henceforth, we carried both currencies and used local pesos where appropriate – tourist mistake #1. A language lesson the next morning in a beautiful Moorish mansion helped build our Spanglish before we headed to Trinidad, on the Southern coast. It carries a reputation of beautiful buildings, classic cars, salsa, sun and parties in caves. It didn’t disappoint. Just driving ... read more
Learning Spanish from our guide Aimara who was a fantastic help throughout the tour
Relaxing with the view from one of our Trinidad terraces

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Cienfuegos October 14th 2014

I spent one last day in Playa Giron. Eva wanted to do the cenote dive, and I wanted one more day on a beach before we made our way to the big city. I went back to the all inclusive in a $5 CUC taxi and paid the $15 CUC for all I could drink and eat for the entire day. It was a beautiful day, and I lay in the beach chairs, read magazines and jumped into the turquoise water every now and again. The perfect hangover cure. The chef became friendly with me and before I knew it, I was getting chair side service with Cuba Libres delivered to me every five minutes or so. He informed me that there would be a bus soon for the hotel guests to go back to Playa ... read more
Watching the world pass by
Johnathan and his Grandma

Central America Caribbean » Cuba October 14th 2014

After the hustle, bustle and hassle of Santiago, it was going to take some effort to convince Kate that the imminent visit to Havana was going to be enjoyable. Before taking the bus from west from Playa Larga, I reluctantly agreed we would only spend two nights in Cuba’s capital. Enough time for us to enjoy a few museums and take a stroll around the old town, enough time for me to take all the photos I wanted and enough time for Kate to feed some stray cats and dogs. Not wanting to spend an extra £10 a night between us, we chose to stay in grubby Havana Centro (Central Havana) rather than the beautiful Havana Vieja (Old Havana). When our taxi dropped us off in what can only be described as the ghetto, it’s a ... read more
The Malecon - Havana

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana October 8th 2014

What’s an overseas adventure without 48 hours of transport to kick it off! Day 0: Sydney, Dallas (complete with epic Tex-Mex) to Mexico City (for real Mex and an overnight rest) then a walk around Mexico City at dawn and off to Havana, Cuba. Cuba is a truly unique place – host to the greatest cities of the Spanish Americas, gold, pirates and forts since the 1600s then turned into a mobsters paradise in the 1940s and 50s. Modern history has served up revolution, communism and the USA embargo - freezing the entire country in time - the last communist outpost 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The modern world is making its way in but Cuba is still an intriguing mix: dilapidated, determined, dirty, developing, and full of a people with mixed stories of ... read more
Our classic American taxi - we had to go for a convertible!
More classic cars around town

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Matanzas October 3rd 2014

Healing the Land (blog by Stan Dotson) Thanks to Ofelia Ortega, ethics professor and past president of the seminary, there is an amazing organic garden (more like a small farm) adjacent to the chapel here, with rich, loamy black soil that produces a wide variety of fruits and veggies. Kim has enjoyed volunteering there, making friends with Guillermo and Duvier and Chino and other workers as she gets her hands in the ground every Friday. Ofelia’s beautiful brainchild came out of the harsh necessity of Cuba’s “Special Period”, the decade of the 90s after the fall of the Soviet Union, when all their economic support vanished and they were left to fend for themselves. Here’s a question lots of visitors have after spending some time in Cuba: how is it that a tropical island with so ... read more
foto 2 Cheo
foto 3 Girls play on Russian Dozer
foto 4 Guillermo at seminary garden

Central America Caribbean » Cuba October 1st 2014

After a 12 hour overnight bus across almost a third of the country we pulled into Trinidad, blurry eyed at around 6am. After the hassle, pace and heat of Santiago, the sleepy cobbled streets of Cuba’s ‘outdoor museum’ were a welcome relief. Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and rightly so. A perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where time seems to have stood still since it was first built in the early nineteenth century using the fortunes from sugar production in the nearby village of Valle De Los Ingenios. We expected this to be our first dip into tourist-ville territory, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find it was a peaceful, hassle-free stop-off where the only annoyance seemed to be a guy wandering past our casa every morning at 5am shouting EL ... read more
Street musician in Trinidad
Our ride in Trinidad

Central America Caribbean » Cuba September 28th 2014

Dean writes....It was a fearsomely dark and stormy night , lightening was illuminating the dark distant waters far below!......No just kidding, we had an easy and uneventful three and a half hour flight from Toronto to Varedero (Cuba). This is our story about travelling Cuba, I hope you enjoy! Back in Canada....On arriving back in Toronto from Niagara Falls (we had two very nice relaxing nights staying in a beautiful B and B there) we decided that we would travel light in Cuba, we pulled everything from our back packs and put what we didn't need into one pack, plus left other things as well in a hotel we had booked across from the air port for when we returned after our three week stay in Cuba. It was a long slow process clearing immigration at ... read more

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