2017
03.31

Store Sign

SYNOPSIS:  RHYME AND RHYTHM AND EURIPIDES.  SANTIAGO DE CUBA.

Picture a sign for a shoemaker along one of the main roads of the historical center of Santiago and below the shoe, dangling like an afterthought, it says:  Looking for a girl friend (in English)!

This was too funny.  We just had to check it out.  Inside one of those dark and faded hallways of an old colonial home was the even darker workshop of shoemaker Euripides — no joke!  That is quite a fateful name for anyone, particularly a shoemaker working in a dark alley, I have to say.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.30

Nightfall over the Harbor

SYNOPSIS:  TRANSIT TO SANTIAGO DE CUBA.  ABOUT RULES, PHONE CARDS, ICE CREAM PARLORS, EATERIES AND A PLAZA THAT SHOULD BE MISSED.  A FEW LOSE ENDS FROM CAMAGUEY.

Picture a pompous-looking voluptuous lady in high heels and black laced stockings holding a fancy notebook, pretending to have some important business.  She was the one (not) greeting us at the door of the 1514 restaurant at the main boulevard in town.  This was a favorite restaurant for the locals and people who showed up seemed to have made a reservation.  We did not.  Even though the restaurant was nearly empty — it was very early for dinner — the pompous lady, without ever looking at us — made us wait in the parlor for 2-3 minutes before she graciously pointed to the door: we were allowed in.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.29

Mosaic at Entrance to Historical District

SYNOPSIS:  ABOUT CUBAN ART.  ABOUT A COUPLE OF LOCAL ARTISTS.

I said it before, art is everywhere.  But art does not equal art.  From Havana to Trinidad (and I expect from here on out) we saw about one art gallery per street in the historical quarters, doubling and tripling up around the central plazas. Artists seem to be in cahoots about what to produce, which has the undesirable effect that the wandering tourist soon is in no mood any more to step into yet another gallery displaying the same stuff:  American oldies in quaint old streets, Che and/or Fidel, colonial architecture, Cuban scenery, surreal beasts and lots of naked ladies, with a few abstracts sprinkled in between, done in shrill, bright primary colors.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.28

Street Sign

SYNOPSIS:  EXPLORING MARKETS, CHURCHES AND PLAZAS

Today we experienced Cuban free enterprise … at its best? … or to the extent possible?  Hard to tell.  It was marked on the map as the Mercado Agropecuario  El Rio, or the Commercial Center.   On the ground it was a gated plot with several rows of small blue-green wooden stalls selling local produce.  At home we would probably call it the Farmer’s Market.   The market opens at 5 AM every day for two hours, and again in the afternoon. We got there in the early afternoon and overall it was a very low key operation.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.27

One of those Beauties

SYNOPSIS:  TRANSIT CAMAGUEY.  ANOTHER VIAZUL TRIP, ABOUT SOME PEOPLE, TRAVEL EXPENSES, ANOTHER AIR BNB.  TEA, AND A FEW OTHER THINGS.  TWO BLOCKS APART, TWO WORLDS APART –  A NIGHT STROLL.

1.5 thumbs up to the Viazul station in Trinidad!  It was the first one we encountered that was clean (except for some trash corners), not overcrowded, and had a system in place that indicated that somebody had put a thought to something as simple as: check people’s luggage as they arrive at the station rather than scramble with it when the bus is there and time is in short supply.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.26
Equipment

Equipment

SYNOPSIS:  ABOUT SUGAR, BEER AND A FEW CHARACTERS:  EXCURSION TO THE VALLE DE LOS INGENIOS; A BLOG DEDICATED TO MY BROTHER AND MY GRANDSONS.   

We headed in two directions today.  Celi is always up for a swim and some time at the beach and boarded the Cubatur bus which conveniently left one block from our casa, taking tourists to the Playa Ancon, a peninsular East of Trinidad, considered the best beach of the South Coast.  It is really the North that is famous for unsurpassed  beach resorts but Playa Ancon is as good as it gets around here.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.25

Cobblestone Road

SYNOPSIS:  TRINIDAD.  A CITY OF COBBLESTONES AND CROWDS.

What makes Trinidad such a charming city is not just its narrow alleys, colorful colonial homes, churches, and plazas, but the fact that all the streets in the center are still “paved” with cobblestones.  If you think European-style cobblestones, think again. These stones are not the same size, evenly laid out as in other places I have seen.  Here, the stones range from small splinters to larger boulders patched together left and right of a center row of larger stones that forms the low part of two inward sloping sides.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.24
Day 10-11

Transit Trinidad

SYNOPSIS:  TRANSIT TO TRINIDAD.  MORE ON HOW VIAZUL OPERATES.  FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF TRINIDAD.

Our Viazul bus ride to Trinidad was less than two hours and on time.  It does not get much better with Viazul.  We got a bit more insight into the workings of this bus company and there were fewer surprises this time.  Soon, we will be experts. 

The bus terminal was crowded, sticky, filthy and chaotic.  This time I was the one who had to get in line to get our tickets.  Even though we already booked and paid for our bus tickets, Viazul still requires us to get “real” tickets at the point of departure.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.23
Art Gallery

Art Gallery

SYNOPSIS:  About rations, ferries, trash, art, yacht clubs, tattoos, and more.

The sun was beating down on us much stronger than in Havana.  But I guess that beats the Michigan winter by a long shot.  We were only a few blocks away from the central plaza via the boulevard.  Much of the shopping that is above and beyond the government-allotted monthly rations — happens here.  Cubans have their basics met.  Housing is either cheap or free entirely, medical expenses and educational costs are met by the government.  And rations for all necessities are given to every citizen; they last for about 10 days.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY

2017
03.22
Reina Cemetery 2

Reina Cemetery

SYNOPSIS:  About the French and other Colonizers, a theater, two cemeteries and a few other things of note in Cienfuegos.

Our AirBnB’s location is perfect.  We are one block away from the pedestrian shopping boulevard leading to the Central Plaza and we are kitty-corner from the Prado, the most famous thoroughfare of Cienfuegos leading to the Malecon and the Punta Gorda.

But before exploring what is going on today, I thought it fitting to talk about those who are dead by now.  Cienfuegos owes its 2005 UNESCO status to a cluster of well-preserved colonial homes built most likely by one or the other of the 116 (or is it 137) French settlers who came here in 1819 from Louisiana in the US, and from Bordeaux.VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY