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2006 Jan by Esko Riste
Cuba 25.12.2005-9.1.2006 |
There was a hurry to see Cuba when Fidel Castro was still in power.
Now it seems that things are finally changing there.
2003 Feb by Grazyna Szczurkowska
In 2003 I travelled by train, bus and private car from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, visiting Camaguey, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara by the way.|
Next i spent some time in Pinar del Rio Province - in Vinales and in Pinar del Rio. And, what was for
me very special - I visited Hotel Maria la Gorda with its splendid and idyllic beaches on the Peninsula de Guanahacabibes, the place where is the reserve with about 170 species of birds, 600 species
of plants , sea turtles and other interesting animals. I love this place.
2002 Dec by Leslie Rutledge
I visited Havana (Cuba) whilst on a Caribbean cruise in 2002. It was at a time where Castro was still very much in charge and tourists and cruise ships were far and few between. Of course we did not know what to expect and were given advice from the ship to steer well clear of the locals as much as possible (advice, which turned out to be total nonsense). It was the only stop on the cruise where we were issued with visas and had to go through immigration with some Che Guevara type border guards checking our passports. Once we cleared immigration Cuba was very much like any other holiday destination, with the locals swarming around us. The local taxis were like shells on three wheels but our first jaunt into downtown Havana would be with horse and carriage. The driver gave us a quick Rumba to warm us up and it was funny to notice that all the horses had plastic bags under their tails to catch any droppings (you cannot waste anything in Cuba). That was probably used for Gas for the old 50s style bangers, for which Cuba is renown. As we rode into town pictures of the system, Castro and Che Guevara were plastered everywhere just to remind everybody of who was in charge here. On arriving at the Parliament building, modelled on the US Capitol and which had about 100 old American cars parked outside we set off on foot to do the back streets of Havana. Here we were approached time and time again by people wanting to sell us anything that we might want to buy. Amongst other things we visited Hemmingways house and Havana cathedral. We then ended up in a typical rum shop with every flavour imaginable and the idea was to take one or two samples and buy a bottle, being a rum lover I sampled about 20 sorts then bought a bottle of coconut rum and waddled back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we did Havana again by foot and finally ended up in the so called Al Capone bar near the harbour front where they had live music sung by a young student girl called Fresia, who then came and sat and chatted with us when she had finished. After that we crawled back to the ship for dinner. Cuba was the only place on the cruise where we stopped overnight and the reason for that was to give us a chance to see the famous Havana carnival. We choose to go to the famous International hotel, which apparently was owned by Al Capone in the 1930s. The local artists put on a fantastic 3 hour show and the booze flowed and a good time was had by all. I think I was carried back to the ship. I found Cubans to be very warm and friendly and also easily accessible and we had no hassle at all from anybody, I think I even spotted Castro on the promenade waving goodbye as we sailed out Ha Ha !!!. I would love to go back and do the rest of Cuba someday. |
2000 Mar by Franklin Murillo
We took an Air Jamaica flight from Montego Bay into Havana. Our hotel was the Horizontes in New Havana which was a moderate place with no character. I love old cars so when we needed a ride into Old Havana I would flag down a citizen driving an old car and ask for a ride. A ride into the old part would cost us a $1 each. The drivers would always leave us nearby so they would not get caught by the police for giving a tourist a ride. The city has so much character and feels like its frozen in time. One of the main plazas where citizens would park look like a car show with all the antique cars. Since its difficult and expensive to maintain these vehicles most would have bald and different size tires and were painted by brush. There are many different historical places to visit in Old Havana and the beautiful classic hotels are here also. We took a bus to Santa Maria beach to lay out for a while, but we enjoy the city more and returned after a few hours. Our next flight was to SDQ airport in the Dominican Republic on Cubana Airlines. This is one of the most dangerous airlines in the world flying old Russian jets. |
2000 Mar by Bernd Scheuermann
From the airport I took a taxi into the old part of town of Havanna. The old Cadillac actually belonged in the museum, and as I stepped out, I felt into one long past epoch carries back. Here seemed the time stand to have remained.|
Before me the Capitol, an accurate copy of the American parliament building stood in Washington. In long rows the road cruisers parked, thus as became them still always on the underworld, those wait the city before the Cuban revolution also Gambling and prostitution in its hands held. A man photographed engaged couple with an old bar camera. I stood for something lost around, as me a woman asked whether I look for one casa particular. she took me also in it House, where she lived together with their mother. The house was not straight much comfortable. In the living room a sofa before bald concrete walls and one were located
Stairs led into the first floor. My room pleased me however. The bed was like that largely that between bed and wall hardly place was for turning. A weak bedside lamp lit up the windowless area. She meant that Chicas none Problem would be and I began mean backpack to unpack.
Before the hotel Inglesia I set in a Café and left myself the pictures of Havanna me affect. A woman with long, black hair, too horse tail were tied together, sat next door. I invited she to a coffee
and as if long time anybody did not come, I went in to took up the order.
I carried forward my daily backpack. After I was back, she rose, opened her bag, turned her and tilted contents up
the table out. It trick their brows together, which their narrow face an irresistible severity gave, and said sarkastisch, it had itself briefly those Nose propellants. The Spanish temper was reflected in its eyes again.
Afterwards it collected its things in and we went into the La Bodeguita del Medio.
Those was famous, because already Hemingway, Che Guevara and Salvador Allende had drunk here. At the walls were everywhere pictures of the famous guests.
I ordered two Mojito and regarded the old wood panel with the looking boxes.
“From where do you come?”
“I am from Santiago de Cuba”, told her.
“Then you live close by from Guantanamo! Were you already times there?”
“No! The Americans could do a military basis, but them on Guantanamo this place do not leave. They cannot fly also from the USA to Cuba.
For decades they keep an economic boykott upright against us. Only because we free and independent to be wanted. The Americans are like children. If one takes away something, they are insulted.
“Are you Spanish descent? ”, I asked.
“My family tree has roots in Spain. But turn you head. Look you the women there on the stairs on. The blond woman with the curls and the dark
Skin color. The Mulattin with the blue eyes. Are they not beautiful. Up Cuba gives it to few racingism. “
We arranged ourselves on the next day, where we learned ourselves to know.
“Which you want to undertake today”, inquired her itself.
“What do you want to buy? ”, it asked surprised.
“Quark, cocoa and a tape.”
After short silence it pushed out: “Impossible! You do not get that here.
The people are glad, if they have basic food and you want to buy quark.
I do not even know exactly whether there are, considered at all cows on Cuba " it.
We went into one of the business. The showcases were really nearly empty and what it
gave, only against dollar was sold.
“Credit it quark and cocoa?”
It turned and pulled a small paper bag from the shelf.
We drove de la Revolucion with the Camel to the Plaza. The penalty in Havanna become
Camel mentioned, because there is converted trucks, those in front and in the back a peak have. On the grandstand of the Plaza I took place, where Castro always its deferment of payment long speeches by the Kubaner held.
“We must buy still quark!”
“Natural, we must buy still quark. There in front are the party headquarterses. We can go and asking Castro, where we can get quark ", them joked.
She put its hands into the hips and regarded with shining eyes. “Want we go or want you still another speech to give. “
Not far from it, there was a market, where farmers sold their products.
This concession to capitalism was inevitable, around the supply that
To maintain population. She found such a thing actually someone, like quark offered. With the finger it tried of it. But it actually affected only its lips,
and their large, round Ohrring whipped moved back and forth with the head, during.
“Quark”, smiled she.
“Now we need only a tape”, said I.
“I know a workshop at the Malecon, which manufactures cardboard boxes. That could do such a thing have. “
The bank promenade from Havanna is always populated from people, which fish, swims or simply flanieren. The old community centres are in a ramshackle condition, sometimes only the front stands, but does to the magic no abort. We ran up to the hotel Nacional, where itself under the dictatorship Baptistas the gangsters the handle in the hand had given. She found the workshop and we got our tape.
“Cuba is a poor country. But there is to much love and joy of life”, gushed she here.
“Kubanerinnen are beautifully, courageous and intelligent”, placed behind them more fully self-confident its.
“We love our country”, said them and adjusted ourselves the way. “You listen at least, because you confirm each sentence of me. Kubaner never listen. “
She pushed its hand carefully under my arm and ran in such a way we by the old part of town of
In my room it threw on the bed and put the quark, cocoa and the sticking bound beside itself. “That was beautifully with you to buy”, said she and pushed the things with the elbow of the bed.
I remained still some days in Havanna. Annoyance began, as if my landlady those fifteen dollar, which I paid for the room, in beautification repairs at the house put. First the living room was reconditioned and adjusted for me in such a way supporting columns that one hardly still in the house came. Then the upper floor was removed, preferably if I wanted to sleep. And finally I was evacuates from my room and had to sleep in the kitchen.
1998 Sep by Leo Koolhoven
Cuba was my first visit to Latin America. I loved the music and I am glad I could see the country with Fidel as his leader.|
1996 Jan by
During my Cuba visit I made a one day visit to the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) flying there from Havana. Previously known as Evangelista, Treasure Island and Isla de Pinos (Isle of Pines), the name was changed in the mid- 1970s in tribute to the many young people who studied and worked on the island. The local guide took me to the prison where Fidel Castro was imprisoned, the Presidio Modelo, which is now a museum. Caves with petroglyphs and citrus orchards were also seen. |
1987 Sep by Alfredo Fournier-Beeche
I am not sure the month of this post is correct. I just remember my trip to the Island and the year and I have proof, since it started proceedings in Court and I have a witness. A Cubana de Aviaciòn plane crashed leaving José Martì Airport and a Costa Rican national died there. I was asked by Frère Chomely, the English legal firm, to appraise the compensation for the heirs. At the hotel, I met with Peter Martin, counsel for the English reinsurers. Since Costa Ricans need a visa to enter the country and there were no consular relations between Cuba and Costa Rica, I had to go to get it in Managua. There was no problem, I had my visa in minutes, but on a separate piece of paper because they did not want to jeopardize my visa to the United States, so the Consul said. No doubt why it is called La Perla de las Antillas. Havana looked beautiful, but the lack of maintenance was evident. The Malecon must have been very nice, but everything looked old and unpainted which is the norm in all of the city. As a great symbol, the boat in which Fidel Castro returned to the island to start his revolution lies in a park. The Universidad de la Havana and the Parliament building are very beautiful, both built before the Revolution. The museum for the Revolution is not much, but holds a Coca Cola bottle. Somebody should tell them that Coca Cola is sold world wide, except there! The excellent houses in the section of Barrio del Carmen were abandoned. Church doors had big padlocks. The only church open was the Cathedral. Since the pews did not have where to kneel, I knelt to pray on the bare floor. The guide that was with me jumped at least three meters away, not to be seen with somebody praying. Restauration of the old section in the center of the city was being made with financial aid of the Spanish Government and the job being made was very good. The pavement on the streets was being removed and the old cobblestone streets were being resurrected. Automobiles on the street were either very new Lada Niva (Soviet junk) or 1959 or older American cars. These were very beautiful and well maintained. In one day I saw two Packards! Maybe most of the readers have not even heard of this make, but those two were giving their service quite well. There were many motorcycles with sidecar, very similar to those that are shown in old movies about the Nazis; I was told that they were made in the then red Czechoslovakia. I was taken to see the Copacabana show: music was very good Cuban music, mainly boleros, rumba and some salsa; the choreography was excellent. But the ambiance was of restraint and outright prudish, as if censure did not allow for risqué shows. The stockings on the female singers looked old, worn and had holes, although not big. We went on a small bus to Varadero with other tourists, and stayed a day at the beach, but rented changing facilities at the Hotel Internacional, of pre-Castro fame. Not many tourists and foreigners seemed to be expatriates on some kind of a task. There were no topless or nudes, which at the time were not permitted. I understand that this has changed. The new tourist hotels had not yet been built. The white sand beach and the transparent water of the Caribbean were amaizingly beautiful; a real treat. The regime had not damaged them.... The national drink is mojito, made of rum soda water and "yerbabuena". Food was good and service courteous, but the waiters' tuxedos were old and worn and needed urgent replacement. I asked for hot pepper, but there was none in any of the restaurants. I went to La Bodeguita de en Medio restaurant, but food was not much; 1900 Restaurant in Marianao, was much better and had a trio singing beautiful, old Cuban music. I requested Guantanamera and was thanked for my choice, since the words are by José Martì, the poet that is considered, rightly, the Father of Cuban Independence from the Spanish. Cuba was the third most developed country in Latin America before the Revolution by Fidel Castro in 1959, now it is less than twentieth. Cuba is the perfect example of what a tyrannical regime can do to a beautiful, happy country. We will see what happens now that Fidel is being phased out, but the communist regime must also be replaced, if they want to enter the XXI century and advance. |
1987 Apr by Veikko Huhtala*
We were waiting something else when we arrived to Havana, but my opinion was that it was most terrible place where I ever had been. Not any display windows on the streets, no bars, nothing at all. We booked hotel, but because there was travel agency in the hotel, we went to ask if we can change our flight earlier. We had tickets next day to Mexico, but we were lucky and got flight to Merida today. We were very happy to hear|
this. We knew that in Mexico everything should be better.
1984 Jan by Jorge Sanchez
Cuba is a special country, and in spite of the fact that their people are suffering from lack of freedom and poor economical conditions, they have, in compensation, a great ability to enjoy life like no other country of the world. Whether you are man or woman, it does not matter, very soon will appear in your way somebody who will start conversation to share your time, all very naturally. Like North Korea, you should visit Cuba as soon as possible, before the political situation changes. The experience will be unrepeatable, like having been in the old Soviet Union. I travelled to Cuba from Mexico in January 1984. In Merida I bought a very cheap tour during one week, including hotel and three daily meals. I had excursions together with Mexican tourists to places around La Habana, such as Viñales, Varadero, Pinar del Rio, Matanzas, etc. But I could not go to Santiago de Cuba, in the south, the old capital in the times of the Spanish colonization of the island, where you will feel in Sevilla, Spain, for its architecture something that I will do pretty soon. In all the excursions we had a local guide. We were every time and everywhere controlled by that guide. Sometimes we wanted to change US Dollars in the street, in the black market, or to give clothes to the poor people who approached us and live miserably, but we had to act very carefully in order not to be discovered by our guide. I still remember that at the airport I was not stamped my passport. Otherwise, so I was told, I would be denied the entry in USA. While in La Habana, together with some Mexicans, I went every evening to drink a “mojito” in the Bodeguita del Medio, as Ernest Hemingway used to do. That was my favourite place. Back to Merida I travelled to Belize hitchhiking........................................
VIÑALES: I have to confess that when I visited Viñales I was not aware of its importance and its traditional agriculture.
In fact my journey was in the year 1984, and Viñales was not included yet in the UNESCO list.
I went to Viñales jst for the adventure. In those times you were followed everywhere by a local guide and everything was included in your tour.
I had arrived to Cuba from Cancun with a group of Mexicans. Accommodation, food and excursions were included.
One of the days I escaped and took a local bus early in the morning to Viñales. Since my mother language is Spanish nobody noticed that I was a tourist because I specially spoke with Cuban accent when buying the bus ticket (in Spanish America they pronounce the letter Z like S, for instance, what I did).
In Viñales I walked inside the downtown and also around the Valley. I remember that I saw paintings in the rocks, featuring primitive people. I had lunch in a restaurant, and in the afternoon I travelled back to Habana by bus for fear to be caught by the guide of my group.
The next day, the guide, knowing that I had deserted the excursions the previous day, asked me where I had been, and I said that I was in the Bodeguita del Medio all the day drinking mojitos, as used to do Ernest Hemingway. And I think that he believed me! |