Goodbye Little Havana, Hello Real Havana

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June 12th 2017
Published: June 12th 2017
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Our main activity for today was going on a culinary tour of Little Havana. We were able to sleep in and then navigated our way to Domino Park to find the one available free parking space. Soon, we met up with our guide Marie and 12 other guests. As we walked through little Havana, Marie shared historical concepts and her explanation of Cuban cuisine including fruits and vegetables. Our first stop was to enjoy an empanada and a Cuban coffee. Both were very good. Following that, we visited a cigar store and were able to see the process of rolling a Cuban style cigar. We were shocked at how expensive they were but learned about various grades of tobacco and how cigar smokers progress from mild to more strong blends. As we continued on the tour, we experienced a pastry, a Cuban sandwich, sugar cane juice, and a mojito at the famous Ball and Chain, established in 1935. The bandshell there was a giant pineapple designed for acoustic purposes out of respect for a neighboring residential area. We also spent more time in domino park, a public park established by the City of Miami to respect Cuban-Americans over the age of 55 to provide a recreational space. Every domino and chess table was filled with an active and animated group of players despite the heat and humidity of the day. The tour lasted almost three hours and ended with some refreshing ice cream, at which point we were ready for some air conditioning and some rest. We returned our faithful Escape to the airport rental car place and made our way back to the hotel where we promptly crashed.

For dinner, it was of to an Argentinian steakhouse that worked out well. Uber drivers were great and allowed us to venture off the hotel property for some local dining despite our lack of transportation. We made it back in time for our first meeting with our Cuba guide, Ralph de la Portilla. He has traveled to Cuba many times and answered every question we had. Clearly, we are in for an adventure that will show us a completely surprising picture of Latin America. We are ready for the experience, which may include going off grid and, depending on what our President says on Friday, we may never return. If we do, it is probably going to be without any Cuban specialties. 😞

Tomorrow morning we are off bright at early at 7:30. Airplane mode, here we come!


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