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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Granny & Lolie


Grany & Lolie
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

Whilst we were in Cuba my Mom came to stay. Whenever we go away, if it’s more than just an overnight, I like to try and get one of the grandparents out for a visit. I don’t have any qualms about leaving the children with our wonderful Nanny, Bianca, it’s not that. It’s just inviting someone they love, takes away from any negative feelings they might have about us going away. Transforming what could be seen as a period of loss or uncertainty into something exciting and new. That’s my theory anyway.

Mum stayed for a couple of weeks so we could spend time with her after we got back and it was a great visit. She and Bianca get on like a house on fire and the kids of course love it when Granny is here. Oliver was very excited about the prospect of her visiting - talking about the games of flying dogs and cooking that was to come!

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Learnings

You know everyone I talk to about our trip to Cuba asks me about what
it was like, the people, the food etc. And as I talk to them what I’m
realizing is that it wasn’t the destination that was really impactful
for me. It was what that destination represented for us as a family
and more importantly, as a couple. Exploring new things together,
getting our groove back, starting to look outwards again for adventure
to restore and reinvigorate us that’s what I really enjoyed. Tgats
what personally brings me ultimate happiness, not stuff, or status, or
any of that, but growing and discovering new places and people with my
man and eventually the whole family. That’s what the thrill is for me.
Its that travel bug again!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day Three: The Real Deal


Rural Cuba
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

This was I think my favorite day when our driver Leo (just a taxi driver we basically hired for the day) took us into rural Cuba and Las Terrazzas.

las Terrazzas is a former reforestration project community turned artists sanctuary. Castro basically forced all the local people to move into one area so he could undergo a reforestation project to replant trees after Cuba was denuded during the batista regiime. In a nutshell. when the wall fell in eastern Europe the funds to continue the project dried up too and so they turned the area into an artists community and ecoresort. It is stunningly beautiful.

We swam in Los banos di San Juan - cold pools in the river - wonderful! Visited the old coffee plantation at Cafetel. And chatted with artists at las Terrazzas. Wonderful wonderful day. Oh and ate with the peacocks and the chicks at Cafe Campesino - highly recommended.

Wonderful wonderful day. All with the wonderful assistance of Leo who hardly spoke a word of English!!

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day Two: Alla playa


Alla playa
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

Total beach-veg day. Found a fantastic beach at Santa Maria after realizing we couldn’t afford to rent a car we took a taxi and it worked out just fine. Santa Maria is pretty close so it wasn’t too too pricey.

In retrospect am relieved we didn’t hire a car as Cuba is notoriously poorly sign-posted and we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere!

The beach was great. I got sunburned. We ate great fish. VERY relaxing.
Money becoming an increasing issue as we realize our US credit card won’t work and we have no way of getting extra funds.

In the evening we were planning to go to Club Tropicana but at $100 a head, you guessed it, we couldn’t quite stretch to it. So cocktails at Hotel Nacional (can’t recommend this highly enough) followed by watching flamenco and eating some kind of Spanish food at Meson della Flota - also very worthwhile.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Day One - Old Habana


Old Habana
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

We began our adventure in Havana with a wonderful lie in! Ah wonderful sleep! Great way to start a vacation. We had had a great breakfast in our casa populare. This is what you call a bed and breakfast. One of Castro’s few reforms was to let follks rent out rooms for a profit - so it is a great way to get a feel for how ordinary Cubans live. I would strongly recommend it. Ours was in Miramar one of the smarter neighborhoods - it was a nice retreat at the end of the day after all the hustle and bustle.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Cuba - First Impressions and Weird Facts


Bici-taxis
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

So here are some interesting things you may, or may not know about Cuba that struck us during our short stay. Some banal, some curious, but these are our stories.

- There are hardly any street lights so it’s pitch dark at night in the town - but so alive. Even in the early hours of the morning every street corner is crowded with folks, waiting for rides, hanging out, who knows what. You might imagine this didn’t feel safe - but it did - at least where we were in Miramar - admittedly one of the better parts of town.

- Two worlds - there are two currencies in Cuba - the convertibiles for tourists and the pesos for Cubans. the convertibile is of course worth a lot more and so everything for tourists cost a lot more. Not only that, but certain restaurants, forms of transport, hotels, are reserved for locals or tourists alone. The bici-taxis you see here for example, are only for Cubanos, the yellow taxis are for u foreigners. This is both bizarre and makes Cuba, paradoxically one of the most expensive places you can visit.

- There are stray dogs everywhere, dozing on the streets, always looking emaciated, filthy and exhausted. Funnily enough they all seem to be from the same somewhat woebegone breed too. No labs or pedigrees here.

- We also saw a couple of instances of dogs being kept on peoples roofs at night. I have no idea if this is intentional or not - for security maybe? But seeing them appear in the inky blackness was a spectral vision.

- You can’t use any US credit cards. We realized this after we landed of course. we were woefully ill-prepared for this trip. Our guide book (the fantastic Lonely Planet) arrived the day before we left, we only had a certain amount of cash and we didn’t take a dictionary. Needless to say most people don’t speak English altho some did. So we valiantly made ourselves understood with what little we had. The money however was another story. By day three we realized we only had a certain amount left and it was running out fast. Fun and games!!!

- Che is everywhere, much more so that Fidel. I’m sure, because he’s dead he could never be a threat to Fidel’s legacy so he’s a useful tool as a martyr to the cause. Nonetheless the use of his iconic image is everywhere, which surprised me.

- More random facts. Missiles on the back of trucks heading down the highway, past cows chewing cud tethered to the side of the road and horse-drawn carts trundelling pas the Ladas and old Chevvies.

- The vintage cars are everywhere and wonderful as they are to look at, the smog they spew out of their decrepit engines is overwhelming. God knows how they keep them running….

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

En route

Stopped off in Cancun en route to Cuba, its wonderfully mild weather,
humid but breezy. We are preparing ourselves for the Cuban reality.
Rations, poor sanitation but wonderful people, music and beaches.
Bring it on! The flight itself should be memorable by all accounts!
Unfortunatly no time to do much in Cancun other than hang out at the
airport, but we’ve been reading up for the next leg of our trip.
Buonos noches!

Sent from my iPhone

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nursery Rhymes

Oliver has finally discovered singing and dancing which is pretty hilarious as I can’t exactly say he’s pitch perfect! Of course we’re sining all the songs from my childhood and it’s amazing how many of them are really quite dark. London’s Burning is a current favorite. 3 Blind Mice he finds too scary (can’t say I blame him). London Bridge is Falling Down is another popular one. And our new discovery - complete with furry dog accompaniments is How much is that Doggie in the Window. :-)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good times and tough times

It’s been a funny old start to the year. Lots of sad news that always makes you reflect upon your own family and your values - what you hold most dear.

My sister-in-law Jackie’s sister died last week. She was like a mother to Jackie and I know that the loss will come as a hard blow. We are too far away at times like this.

On the other side of the family, my brother-in-law’s father is also gravely ill. The family are up in Philadelphia for what we think are his final days. I feel very much for all the pain they are going through. I look at my son, my daughter, my husband and I feel profoundly grateful we are all healthy and living life to the fullest.

We are all precious gifts for each other that we do not get to cherish indefinitely.
Remember. Delight. Savor and Cherish one other.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cake


Cake
Originally uploaded by taylorkydd.

Well we finally got it together and Lola had a wonderful first birthday party!

So what if it did rain, at least we were all over our various maladies - finally! Her cousins came as well as a bunch of family friends - a perfect number of folks - the Waislers, her pal Rowan, Claire and her daughter Leila, Uncle Morgan of course (Boink!), Philip & Miyuki, a very pregnant Chris with husband Aussie Matt. In short a houseful.

I baked a cake and there was much hilarity with the birthday girl very much master of her domain, running around, quite literally, running.

Walking is so old hat, now we have to run.

Happy birthday sweet Lola.

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