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Thursday, February 28, 2008


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

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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