From November 2016 to January 2017 Rocío and I experienced an unbelievable trip to Cuba. This post summarises the holiday and includes links to many stories and highlights.
From reading about Cuba beforehand I had some idea what it would be like. I knew there would be limited supplies available and that the country had two currencies and a bad reputation for food. In the weeks before leaving I repeatedly advised Rocío that Cuba was different, so much so, I almost felt like a broken record. However, it was important that we were prepared as well as we could be. After all, we planned to be there for almost two months!
Cuba’s mystique began showing early in the trip and continued throughout. Celebrity encounters book-ended our Cuba adventure. On our first full day it was Plácido Domingo and on our final evening we came across Enrique Iglesias’ Súbeme la Radio video shoot.
- Plácido Domingo: http://joe.in/seeing-placido-domingo-in-havava-cuba/
- Enrique Iglesias’ Music Video Shoot: http://joe.in/stumbling-upon-enrique-iglesias-old-havana-video-shoot/
Fidel Castro’s Death
However, those encounters didn’t match being local for the death of one of the 20th century’s most influential people: Fidel Castro. The former Cuban revolutionary and leader’s passing focussed our trip and for 10 days we followed memorial events across the island.
- Being in Havana for Fidel Castro’s Death: http://joe.in/being-in-havana-for-fidel-castros-death/
- Fidel Castro’s Havana Wake: http://joe.in/attending-fidel-castros-wake-in-havana-cuba/
- Havana Memorial Rally Featuring World Leaders: http://joe.in/world-leaders-flock-to-fidel-castros-havana-memorial-rally/
- Fidel Castro’s Ashes Cross Cuba: http://joe.in/the-caravan-transporting-fidel-castros-ashes-across-cuba-fidels-passing-part-4-of-6/
- Santiago de Cuba Memorial Rally: http://joe.in/fidels-passing-part-5-of-6-fidel-castros-santiago-de-cuba-memorial-rally-3-december-2016/
- Funeral in Santiago de Cuba: http://joe.in/fidels-passing-part-6-of-6-fidel-castros-funeral-in-santiago-de-cuba/
Havana is Havana and it was where our holiday started, experienced new year’s eve and ended.
- Buildings: http://joe.in/buildings-of-havana-cuba/
- Doors: http://joe.in/doors-of-havana-cuba/
- Tiles: http://joe.in/tiles-of-havana/
- Classic Cars: http://joe.in/classic-cars-in-havana-cuba/
- El Shamuskia’o Restaurant: http://joe.in/eating-and-drinking-at-el-shamuskiao-in-old-havana/
- Crepe Sayu: http://joe.in/eating-japanese-at-crepe-sayu-in-old-havana/
- Russia’s Constructivist Havana Embassy: http://joe.in/russias-constructivist-havana-embassy/
- Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre Museum and Library: http://joe.in/antonio-nunez-jimenez-and-the-fundacion-de-la-naturaleza-y-el-hombre-museum-and-library/
- New Year’s Eve: http://joe.in/celebrating-new-years-eve-in-havana-cuba/
- Cartoonist Ares: http://joe.in/artist-ares-cuba-postcastro-cartoon/
- Rebellious Mojitos at a Havana Reggae Bar: http://joe.in/rebellious-mojitos-at-a-havana-reggae-bar/
- Shooting Gallery: http://joe.in/a-shooting-gallery-in-old-havana/
- The Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem: http://joe.in/the-church-of-our-lady-of-bethlehem-havana/
- Havana’s Ruined Teatro Campoamor: http://joe.in/exploring-havanas-ruined-theatre-teatro-campoamor/
- An Old Japanese Toyota: http://joe.in/an-old-havana-car-with-a-japanese-connection/
- Summary: http://joe.in/havana-cubas-capital-and-a-must-visit/
Between Pinar del Río and Havana we stopped to visit Soroa’s lovely botanic gardens and waterfall.
- Soroa Orchids and Waterfall: http://joe.in/orchids-and-waterfall-in-soroa-cuba/
Pinar del Río Province
Cuba’s world-famous Viñales landscape and Cuba’s largest cave system were explored in Pinar del Río Province.
- Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas: http://joe.in/visiting-cubas-largest-cave-gran-caverna-de-santo-tomas-vinales/
- Viñales: http://joe.in/vinales-beautiful-landscapes-and-more/
- Robaina Cigars at Finca el Pinar: http://joe.in/finca-el-pinar-home-of-the-world-famous-robaina-cigars/
- Pinar del Río: http://joe.in/chevrolets-architecture-art-and-food-in-pinar-del-rio/
Seeing Camagüey Province’s flamingos was Rocío’s overall Cuba highlight. Elsewhere, we woke up Christmas morning on a hut floor of an ecological reserve containing giant millipedes.
- Flamingos at Rio Maximo Wildlife Reserve: http://joe.in/a-crazy-adventure-seeing-flamingos-at-rio-maximo-wildlife-reserve-camaguey-province-cuba/
- Camagüey: http://joe.in/world-heritage-listed-camaguey-cubas-third-city/
- Reserva Ecológica Limones-Tuabaquey: http://joe.in/reserva-ecologica-limones-tuabaquey-waking-up-christmas-day-on-a-hut-floor-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-cuba/
- Camagüey to Nuevitas by Train: http://joe.in/visiting-nuevitas-via-our-first-cuban-train-journey/
Our time here included something forbidden for foreigners: catching a Cubans-only Ómnibus Nacionales bus.
Santiago de Cuba Province
This is where the Cuban Revolution began. It’s also where we ate tree rat and received a ride with the Cuban Air-force.
- Santiago de Cuba: http://joe.in/santiago-de-cuba-where-the-cuban-revolution-began/
- La Gran Piedra: http://joe.in/the-epic-la-gran-piedra-adventure/
In Cuba’s far east we visited Guantanamo Bay, saw the aftermath of a severe hurricane and enjoyed awesome hot chocolate.
- Baracoa: http://joe.in/baracoa-a-special-place-in-eastern-cuba/
- Hurricane Matthew’s Impact on Baracoa: http://joe.in/hurricane-matthew-and-its-impact-on-baracoa/
- Food in Baracoa: http://joe.in/awesome-hot-chocolate-and-other-baracoa-food/
- Alejandro de Humboldt National Park: http://joe.in/visiting-alejandro-de-humboldt-national-park-from-baracoa-cuba/
- Guantanamo Bay: http://joe.in/guantanamo-bay-and-a-crazy-journey-from-santiago-de-cuba-to-baracoa/
Cuba in General
Cuba is the most unique country I’ve visited. The country’s geography, culture, history, economics and politics have influenced every other aspect of society such that it is like nowhere else.
- Cuban Postal Systems and Mail Boxes: http://joe.in/cuban-postal-systems-and-mail-boxes/
- Cuban Signs, Branding and Marketing: http://joe.in/cuban-signs-branding-and-marketing/
- Cuban Ingenuity and Repurposing: http://joe.in/cuban-ingenuity-and-repurposing/
- Shopping in Cuba: http://joe.in/shopping-in-cuba/
- Cuba’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR): http://joe.in/cubas-committees-for-the-defence-of-the-revolution-cdr/
- Cuban Communist Country Products: http://joe.in/cuban-communist-country-products/
- Cuban Propaganda Against the United States Embargo: http://joe.in/cuban-propaganda-against-the-united-states-embargo/
- Cuba’s Bromeliads: http://joe.in/cubas-bromeliads-in-gardens-and-the-wild/
7&1/2 weeks of Cuba’s magic, oddities, contradictions and miracles were enough. It was time to return to shops having supplies and other things usually taken for granted.
Our final moments in Cuba encapsulated the place: a classic 1950s American car ride to Havana airport at which we ate a crappy, overpriced meal served in polystyrene.