The iconic photo:
And the coffee that kept me going daily:
We were offered coffee in every home we visited. It was always a bit awkward when my travel partner turned it down. Cubans make their coffee in old-fashioned stove top coffee makers and automatically over-sweeten every pot with several tablespoons of homegrown sugar. Everyone was shocked that I drank my coffee black.
Cuban Convertible dollars in the Vedado hotel:
That’s right folks! Only available in Cuba. Because they aren’t real money. Not actually convertible outside Cuba, not used on any stock exchanges. Kind of like monopoly money, but you have to give the bank tellers US dollars if you want some of these. Then they’ll charge you an automatic 20% to give you their precious CCPs and give you .7 CCP for each USD. I’m not a math major or a business person, but isn’t that called artificial inflation? Just checking. Anyone who understands this more, feel free to weigh in.
Not to be overly dramatic, but what future do these two little guys look forward to? Their dad is a university professor who can barely keep food on the table.
Motorcycles with sidecars were everywhere:
Some where left over from the Soviet era, but most were of the newer Japanese variety. They were so funny! I’ve never been anywhere else in the world where there were so many sidecars running around.
They crack me up and make me think of cartoons.
Ok, last sidecar picture:
Moving on, how about some propaganda?
Castro and his buddies are convinced the Americans are at fault, somehow. I watched several clips of Castro’s speeches before I visited. According to him, Americans are imperialists, whose only goal is the downfall of Cuba. Imperialism, a word I haven’t thought much about since high school history, is a big talking point in Cuba: the US forcing its will on other countries. I know our country has an official agenda in the country, but I really don’t think they are as high on the priority list as they think they are.
I also picked up a book on the Miami 5 while at a shopping area in Varadero. I vaguely remember hearing something about their arrest, but again, not high on my radar. Apparently it’s a big bone of contention in Cuba-another example of US imperialism. I have no idea who is right, but it is curious that there is no English Wikipedia entry on the group. (Any German readers?) Government intervention?
Any visitor to Havana will see my pal all over town:
Seriously. That is in the in the grocery store parking lot. Busts of Mr. Vladamir Lenin, father of communist thought in Russia, were on street corners, in parks, in windows, in people’s front yards.
On to more pleasant things: Lunch in Old Havanna.
Marinated, grilled pork, black beans and rice, boiled potatoes and banana chips. Yum, yum, yum. Especially the banana chips. And I have to say, I literally had the best crème brulee I’ve ever had in my life here. I didn’t actually order any, but then I had a bite of someone else’s. And then I stole it from them.
Not a lot available. There are a few things on the shelves, but if you’ve seen Sicko, you might expect the paragon of perfect social health care.
And now for something a little more fun. The gratuitous beach shot:
This is a public beach not too far from Havana. They’ll rent you a lounging chair for about $2 and deliver drinks and food right to you as you lazily sit there. Not that I would did that or anything.
Stay tuned for a few more details from the trip, like fun architecture photos and where to stay.