Will this aeroplane actually leave the ground?
Concerning thoughts are growing as I look at the other customers boarding flight AA1447 from Miami to La Habana (local lingo)
Everyone appears to be carrying anywhere between 50 & 100kg. Just an average. The bags are plastic wrapped in enough layers to cover the state of Miami.
The Cubans seem to come to the US to buy up big on anything and everything. Electronics, toiletries, clothing, air conditioning units. It is obviously worth it for the additional baggage fees they pay, not to mention taxes and fines which we find out about in a few hours.
First tip never bring a drone in to Cuba
Wow this place. Enter. Sniffer dogs running around playing, don’t be fooled though, they do there job too. One disaster after another. Only one luggage belt working for 4 international flights, every Cuban having their imports checked. Thoroughly one by one. A drone, oh no, we wait and wait to have it confiscated until our departure. See my first top! 4 hours later. Exchange money. No can do, we don’t have enough money! What?
Leave the airport, pouring rain, actually I won’t even use the word pouring, it’s not descriptive enough, torrential, flooding streets rain. Yep welcome to Cooba, Habana. Woo hoo we are here!
Arriving at our casa ( Cuban owned house they rent out to tourists ). We wait out the rain. As we were leaving to explore, we were warned. Be careful of walking under balconies. They can fall down. Craig laughed. No serious the lady said.
The start to Cuba is somewhat crazy but we are still smiling and positive as are all the Cubans we have met so far.
Think the 1950s/60s, it is like time has stood still. Nothing has moved on
La Habana is a photographers delight. Turn left photo opportunity, turn right, look up, look down, photo opportunity after photo opportunity. Even the novice would take delight in Havana. Gorgeous people smile, yell hola, where you from? Australia, ahhh skippy.
They want to show or tell you something amazing about their country, maybe sell you a service, like a ride around town in an old vintage cabs, a ford convertible, chevys and Buick’s, in their bold and bright colours or a maybe you prefer the bike cab. Young Cuban men cycle you around showing you the sights for 10 cucs. ($10) we did this, our man, Massile chatted to everyone as we rode, the men welcome each other with a hand shake and a kiss on the cheek, girls hold hands, when did we grow so unaffected and lose that intimacy in Australia? Massile tried his luck chatting up girls. He was thoroughly
entertaining. He taught me a few salsa steps to prepare me for the clubs. There are little Cuban tuk tuks and bubble (that’s what they look like) cabs. But, by no means are they pushy. You say no, they smile and tell you to enjoy your day.
A neglected city that is poor but it is still so beautiful at the heart and soul of it. It has a personality of its own. We are captivated. Love at first sight.
We sat at the hotel inglaterra to taste my first Cuban mojito. Taking in the ambience as the band played. This is the first hotel built in Havana dating back to 1890. Winston Churchill was even a customer here in 1895. God I live history.
Cigar smoke twirls through the air as men and for that matter women smoke big fat cigarillos. Older men dressed like Fidel himself look totally hip and cool in this city. Murals of Fidel, Che and Camilla are painted or drawn on many walls around the city. Street corners and parks come alive with small bands, locals dance sexily, smoking cigarettes and drinking Cuban coffee. People rest any where and everywhere, on a step, a bench, a cart carrying there fruits. Holes in the walls with locals selling 50cent pizzas.
The colours of everything everywhere are vibrant and exciting. Old men sit on steps chatting about life. A bride and groom are being chauffeur driven through the small Havana streets in s convertible. Honking the horn constantly. Everyone including us cheers as they drive past. A group dressed up sing, dance and twirl their way through the streets, the people part to let them through. Life is to be enjoyed here in Cuba.
We are staying at a casa in Habana Street. It’s simple. A lounge with a couch and 2 chairs. A bed room with 2 small double beds and a bathroom. Nothing else. Simple. What drew us to this place was the little roof top terrace that looked colourful and pleasant to sit for an afternoon mojito. Hahhaha the reality was vastly different. Check out the photos. We still loved it nonetheless. Next door lives an old lady, when we come home at night she is sitting in a wooden rocking chair, behind the big iron gate, in the morning when we leave the casa she is still sitting, unmoved in the same spot. I say hola with a smile, she nods and says hola back. So content with life, this lady is, as are all the locals.
No internet, value adds to the life of the Cubans in my eyes. They live. They congregate in parks, on corners, at front doors, in the streets. They talk, they laugh, they play music, drink coffee, they live. I am envious of the simplicity.
On the other side of our Casa, lives a man, he plays Cuban/Latin music, all day, every day, it’s playing in the morning when we get up and it is still playing when we go to bed. Somehow it is just fabulous and does not disturb or prevent you sleeping. We are steeping ourselves into Cuban life and I like it.
As I said earlier, there is no internet in Cuba, but occasionally someone will have paid for internet which creates a hot spot. You know when you have found one of those hot spots as there are groups of people, especially young ones sitting in the street using their phones for 5 minutes of internet. A young local will be selling the password to the street users for a small fee.
Mojitos delicious beyond words. I had to have a mojito in memory of the legend Ernest Hemingway. We visited his favourite bar here in Havana, where I signed the wall along with thousand of other signatures. The Mojitos here are as strong as they are tasty.
Wedges ? Sugared cornchips, sound awful, no it’s not. Quite delish actually, as are the chips they sell. The Cuban version of potato crisps. Thinly sliced potatoes fried. Both are sold around the streets in paper cones for 1 or 2 cucs. Close to the Australia equivalent. ($1or 2)
Food is cheap here, everything is cheap here. For bread, starter, main course and a few drinks 40 cucs. That is what we have been paying for 2 drinks lately in other destinations. The meals are big, fresh and they are very accommodating to dietary needs, if they understand what you mean!
Our casa provided the most scrumptious breakfasts. Fresh, in season fruits and juices. Toasts, anything you desire. Nothing to much trouble.
Dogs run through the streets at their will and play. They are happy, just like the people and mostly seem somewhat well cared for.
A bubble cab to the north side of town where we walked an alleyway. Painted by an artist, sculptures made from iron and bathtubs, if one word could be used, spectacular would be it. Every Sunday locals play the drums and another party has started, walk 10 minutes to the food that was truly scrumptious . A Cuban with insight to a European/Cuban mix. Cocktails are again delicious and cheap.This part of Habana is even cheaper. 30cucs for cocktails, beers, starters and mains. So much food. Hello another 3 kg.
We found a club. Latin music, mojitos, dancing. Locals and tourists mixing together. We strolled our at midnight. Took a taxi, with no handles on the inside and barely a seat, but 10 cucs took us back to our casa and that 10 cucs will buy the driver and his friend a days worth of food, drinks, cigarettes etc.
Whilst we have our daily downpour of torrential madness. We make the most of indoors. A visit to the very educational and moving Museum of Revolution
I learnt, I cried, I have even more respect for these strong people and their country. Viva La Cuba.
I am further intrigued and am now on a mission to learn more.
Second Tip ( for the girls )byo toilet paper. It is not readily available in toilets, which are few and far between unless you pop in for a drink, use the toilet, then as you have had more liquid intake, you will need another stop ( phew) you can buy one square in some places for 50cents. Hold on girls!
I could chat for hours about this place. So much to tell but for Facebook, this is it.
See you later