Stumbling Upon Enrique Iglesias’ Old Havana Video Shoot

I grew up with Julio Iglesias’ music in the family home. His third child Enrique is now a mega famous singer himself.

Subeme La Radio ft. Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox video shoot

Video production people milling around on Cárdenas Street, Old Havana

Returning from Soroa, Rocío and I were walking to our accommodation in Old Havana (Habana Vieja) when we arrived to a closed road. On Cárdenas Street people and film production equipment surrounded its notable art nouveau houses.

Sign on van supporting Subeme La Radio video production

Sign on a production van parked on a side street; the Liverpool production was in association with Ogilvy, Oxígeno, TV Casa Productora and Island Film

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Rebellious Mojitos at a Havana Reggae Bar

After the shooting gallery, Rocío and I came across a bar operating. A functioning bar is usually inconspicuous in touristy Old Havana (Havana Vieja). However, after Fidel Castro’s death all alcohol sales and entertainment officially stopped for 9 days and this was the only disobedient venue seen.

Enjoying a prohibited drink at the reggae bar

Enjoying a prohibited drink at the reggae bar gets Bob Marley’s approval

The small bar’s stereo played but not blasted and strong 2 for 1 mojitos cost 3 CUC (US$3). The NKOTB t-shirt-wearing manager’s view was that people should be able to mourn Fidel Castro’s passing how they liked. If they wanted to remember Fidel by playing music, they should be able to play music. He also gave us a different Fidel’s CD: Fuego Caliente by Argentinean reggae artist Fidel Nadal.

In the rear kitchen an empty burner kept flaming and I would not be surprised if communist Cuba provided free gas but not matches.

The Fuego Caliente 'Fidel' CD the bar manager gave us

Fidel Nadal’s ‘Fuego Caliente’ CD the bar manager gave us; through the back door is a stove burning gas for no apparent reason

A Japanese tourist and her jinetero were the bar’s only other guests and we all joined in conversation, enjoying the bar’s rebellious spirit.

Thankfully, the mojitos came after the shooting practice and not beforehand!

Visiting Cuba’s Largest Cave: Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, Viñales

The Great Cavern of Saint Thomas (Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás) is Cuba’s largest cave system. Near the town of El Moncada 18 kilometres’ drive west of Viñales, the cave belongs to Parque Nacional Viñales.

Santo Tomás Cave is part of Viñales National Park

The Santo Tomás Cave path is 2.8km long

As a geology lover, Rocío was keen to see the cave, especially after seeing artefacts from it in Havana’s Fundacion de la Naturaleza y el Hombre museum. From Viñales we hired a car and driver for 20 CUC (US$20), waiting time and return journey included. Continue reading

Santiago de Cuba, Where the Cuban Revolution Began

Cuba’s second city Santiago de Cuba lies far from Havana and is known for both its music and rebellious streak. Rocío and I visited Santiago twice in December 2016, firstly for Fidel Castro’s memorial rally and funeral and later, returning from Baracoa. While based in Santiago we had an epic day trip to La Gran Piedra I blogged about here.

Moncada Barracks and the 26th of July Revolutionary Movement

Children at a school that used to be the Moncada Barracks, where the Cuban Revolution began; note the bullet holes in the walls

Children at a school that used to be the Moncada Barracks, where the Cuban Revolution began; note the bullet holes in the walls

On 26 July 1953 Fidel Castro led an unsuccessful armed attack on Santiago de Cuba’s Moncada army barracks. This is regarded as the start of the Cuban Revolution and the official revolutionary movement is named 26 de Julio (26th of July) after this date. The former barracks was converted to a school although some of the battle’s bullet holes remain. Continue reading

Seeing Plácido Domingo in Havava, Cuba

The Great Theatre in Havana, Cuba

Havana’s grand Great Theatre has amazing architecture

Havana is a special city in which anything can happen.

On Thursday, 24 November 2016, Rocío’s and my first full day in Cuba, we were walking along Paseo del Prado, the border between Old Havana and Centro Havana. Coming to the Great Theatre (Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso), we saw a crowd near the entrance. Just as we get there, modern Mercedes Benz sedans (a rarity in Cuba) arrive and out step opera singer Plácido Domingo and wife Marta Domingo.

Plácido Domingo and his wife exit the car in front of Havana's Great Theatre

Plácido Domingo and wife Marta Domingo get out in front of Havana’s Great Theatre

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Deliciousness and Australian Songs at Festi Sabores 2016 – Arequipa’s Food Festival

Festi Sabores, Festival of Flavours in English, is southern Peru’s most important food festival and a highlight of the Arequipa calendar. With free entry, Festi Sabores is held at Plaza Yanahuara over multiple days around October-November each year. Rocío and I enjoyed the 2016 festival enough to attend two days.

Cuyassic Park, guinea pig stand, Arequipa Food Festival, Peru

Cuyassic Park: like Jurassic Park but selling roasted guinea pigs instead (cuy in Spanish is guinea pig) Continue reading

The First Festival of Esquilaya Coffee, Ayapata, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

2016 Ayapata Festival of Esquilaya Coffee poster, Macusani

A poster in Macusani promoting the 1st Esquilaya Coffee Festival (I Festival de Café Esquilaya) held in Ayapata on 25 September 2016

Peru is a significant producer and exporter of coffee, with its crop primarily grown on the Andes’ eastern slopes. At 3,475 metres, the town of Ayapata is too high to grow coffee. Why then does it have a coffee festival? Continue reading

Moray Circles and Maras Salt in Cusco’s Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley’s unique Moray archaeological site and Maras salt mines (Salinas de Maras) make a popular day trip from Cusco. I visited in August 2016.

At the tour’s first stop ladies demonstrated how llama and alpaca wool was traditionally dyed using naturally sourced ingredients and spun for weaving.

Incan Textiles, Maras, Cusco, Peru

Ladies in traditional clothing demonstrate how alpaca and llama wool was dyed and spun Continue reading