Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • It's still All About Travel 10:06 AM on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply  


    It’s our last two days in Havana; we meet with 3 Cuban Economists from the Union of Cuban Jurists.  Was a real eye-opener.  From my point of view, they were mostly interested in getting our support to lift the Embargo, and when asked what they liked best about the United States – the answer “nothing”…that’s what she said!

    However, we left Cuba on a real high note.  We visited the restaurant/cabaret where the Buena Vista Social Club was entertaining.   What a hoot!  Some were original musicians, but could still sing, play and entertain.

    Dancing with the music!

    I absolutely loved the trip, enjoyed talking to people on the streets.  Noticed a lot of poverty and (once beautiful) shabby buildings.  I would love to return in about five years to see (hopefully) improvements.  Cuba is a country rich in minerals and very attractive to the Chinese who are investing.  Personally, I cannot vouch for their health care system, I do see that tourism their only economy, and more than ever I believe Socialism does not create growth.  Their enormous 50-year old roadside signs “Socialism or Muerte” should read Socialism is Death.

  • It's still All About Travel 7:38 PM on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply  


    Saying adios to Melia & Tonia, and doorman Eliziar, we boarded our bus and made our way south to the port city of Cienfuegos and the well-preserved colonial city Trinidad.

    It’s warmer and more humid we find, passing miles of palm trees, prickly brush and idle land.  A large government farm seems to be under cultivation here and there.  No cattle, few sad looking horses.  Christopher fills us in on the politics and economics of the country as we go on our way. Bacardi Rum, the United Fruit Co, the American  raft-rescue planes shot down in 1992, the sugar connection with the United States, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Russian connection, the U.S.embargo all figure into the complex Cuba/United States history.

    Sign along the road “Revolution is Independence”.  Citizens are reminded daily.

    Banana Man

    We stop along the way (rule #1 of travel – do not pass a toilet without using it!) where we snack on ice cream, and fresh bananas right from the farmer’s hand.

    We stop, listen and keep time to the band concert in Cienfuegos Plaza . It was extremely good, and drew a big crowd of tourists and locals.  Spoke to policemen – they smiled!

    We were treated to a dance recital at a local Art School for children.  Even the very youngest were very professional; I was impressed by their ability and concentration.

    Trinidad is a beautiful little town, very clean, lots of colonial architecture and all cobblestone streets (Oh, my feet!!). There were many local vendors and am so wishing now I had taken advantage of shopping!

    On our way back to Havana, we stop at the Bay of Pigs.  We wade in the sea at the site of the failed mission.  The museum with the downed U.S. planes and captured equipment is very disturbing.

    Children's dance school


  • It's still All About Travel 6:06 AM on April 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Cuatro Dia 

    We’re off this morning via our trusty bus to explore a sustainable rural community, the Bio-Reserve “Las Terrazas”.   A re-foresting project after terracing the hillsides and moving people into individual homes on the government owned property.

    It has been planted with natural plants to the area.  The homes look very clean and well cared for.  The children look happy, and the chickens have the run of the place.  A man-made lake is visible and it is an impressive feat.  Of course, it is one small area, with a very small percentage of the population benefiting.

    We stop off at a government run school in the area.  The kids are clean, happy and playing some game of their own making.  We peek into the open doors of the classrooms.  Again a very small percentage of the children in comparison with the total population.

    Did I mention we all must keep a daily log of our activities and interaction with Cubans?  We are told we must keep it on hand for 5 years as the IRS could question us is we actually had social contact as the special permit demands.  We have, we do, and we will.

  • It's still All About Travel 7:57 PM on April 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Havana Sights 

    We visited the Colon (Columbus) Cemetery and took pictures of the elaborately sculptured memorials. The Memorial to the Bombaderos (Firefighters) was beautiful and impressive.  18 firemen died in the 1800’s when they entered a building they did not know was full of explosives.

    On to a totally different experience to the Callejon de Hamel, an outdoor multimedia art space know for its murals, and then after another lunch of beans and rice, etc, we headed to Jaimanitas to visit the home and workshop of ceramic artist Jose Fuster.  As a kitty lover, I was delighted to see a black and white “home” kitty.  He/she had obviously been hurt at one time and would not let me get closer than a few inches

    We saw many “street” dogs in Cuba, and very few kitties.  I didn’t ask why, I thought  rather not know.

    I purchased an American language Cuban newspaper “Granma” today from the two ladies outside our Hotel door.  Tonia & Melia were my immediate best friends.  I also gave them the many hotel soaps and shampoos I had brought from home.  They will use them to barter for other items they need.  I admired their tenacity to sell these newspapers on the street day after day.

    Melia, Tonia and Tourist

  • It's still All About Travel 6:29 AM on April 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Tres Dia 

    We have a busy day ahead – after our usually sumptuous breakfast, champagne included.  I could get used to this!


    Off to a visit to Casa del Habana where we meet with cigar experts, learning the history as well as the correct way to prepare, light and smoke a cigar. They give us complimentary cigars (which I give to our door man Elizear).  After being property initiated in Cigar smoking, we hop back on our bus, drive through the elite Miramar neighborhood of diplomat homes, and then on to Museo del Ron (that’s right – “ron,” not rum but meaning the same).

    The many generational company “Bacardi” left the business they had built up over the years, and moved the corporation to New York City, and continued business in Puerto Rico and Mexico.  Havana Ron took over and now is a public run corporation in Cuba.  We sampled their product, took pictures of a miniature diorama of the Ron factory.  They didn’t give our samples, but did serve Mojitos.  I buy a bottle of “Bacardi” Rum when I get back to Redding.  I’ll be serving Mojitos to toast Bacardi and loyal Cubans at our Book Club “Cuba” event.

    After lunch (more beans and rice), fish & salad – all served beautifully. we are on our way to Hemmingway’s hilltop home, Finca Vigia  on the outskirts of Havana.  Not a whole lot to see there, and not even one of his multi-toed cats still hanging around.

    I purchased a couple of block prints (Customs surely will consider them “art” depicting a couple Hemmingway’s books.

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