ITINERARY Sun: Embark From Miami,
Mon: Walking Tour Of Havana
Tue: Biosphere Havana
Wed: Day at Sea
Fri: Santiago de Cuba
Sat: Day at Sea
Sun: Disembark Miami
Walking Tour Of Havana
A woman with a giant fork riding a rooster.
Our guide thought this might be a sexual syllogism,
but left it up to us to decideI don't always drink rum, but when I do its Havana Club!
Lovely restaurant and thank heavens it was air-conditioned. Lobster tail
was the special.At this point the heavens broke open.
Lucky for us we were close to a hotel with a bar. For me this
was probably the highlight of the tour. Sitting under a porch drinking beer and
listening to the band while it poured for a solid hour. Don't know where our
guide went to shelter, but as soon as the rain stopped he showed up
again and we were moving.Our tour took us to four squares in old Havana. This was the prettiest, a garden
square. After this the tour concluded with a government controlled cigar and rum
store that left most of standing around while some people made their purchases.
We had talked about hiring one of the classic cars to drive us around.
After the long tour we decided against that, but this was our only chance.
Steven settled for paying the driver to let us take a picture with the car.
The cabbie gave him a cheap cigar for the photo, which you can't really see here,
but was a really nice touch and indicative of how well we were treated by the Cubans.
There were 2 caberets offered through the ship on Monday night. We chose the
kitchier. The place was packed. We got a welcome cocktail but had to work to get
another drink. The costumes were fabulous. A history of Cuba through song and dance.
Starting with the exploitation of the indiginous peoples (all played by dark skined actors)
through the age of the puffy shirt. Afterwards we were 'given' the opportunity to take
photos of the hotel lobby. For me it was exciting to walk in the remenants of pre-revolution Cuba;
where Frank, Desi, Ernest, and Fidel had walked. The lobby? Meh.
Tuesday-Biosphere Outside Havana
Our second day, we took a bus an hour outside Havana to visit a 'biosphere'.
Wasn't sure what to expect, but this was really interesting. The Spanish when
they controlled Cuba basically denuded the island of trees. We visited the site
of a former coffee plantation that now looks like a rainforest.Chickens!!! I love chickens, and the place where we ate lunch in the biosphere
had a mess of em. Peacocks too. Had chicken for lunch. Farm to table at its best.
Our guide took us for Cuban coffee to the small commune where she lives. There is a waiting list
to live here, her father moved the family when she was quite young.
Our 'cultural exchange' for this tour was to speak to the local doctor. It
was pretty clear he had no interest, even through the interpreter. We had the talk on the
bus because of the air-conditioning. All the housefraus on the tour asked about childbirth.We stopped at an artists studio, Steven bought a few prints to help support the local economy. On
the way back to the ship we saw people selling homemade (unrefrigerated) cheese on the side of the road.
Not legal and a woman on the tour said they have to hide from the authorities. That evening we sailed out
of Havana and got pretty nice views of the city. Had to smoke a few of the cigars Steven bought, just to
make sure they were as good as everybody says.
Cienfuegos - The Pearl Of The Carribian
We spent Wednesday at sea, sailing around the West coast of Cuba. Thursday morning
I woke up at dawn and saw these views from our balcony. I have put too many of these
pictures here, but it is really rare for me to get such good shots.
Cienfuegos styles itself as 'the pearl of the Carribian', not much here. Saw pretty 1920's mansions,
then the picturesque main square, but that was it. Boat docked at 8:00 AM and left at 4:00 PM. Our cultural
activity here was to listen to a high school level choir sing old chestnuts in an unairconditioned theater. Luckly
we were able to grab a beer before the performance. Che stuff everywhere. Think he was born here, but to lazy to
Google it right now.
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the most Carribian city on the island.
Motorcycles are the common way to get around, these are taxi
cabs. We saw the main square, then went to San Juan Hill where
Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders fought the Spanish in the 1890s.
We went to a historic spanish fort where we were given our last
opportunity to support the Cuban economy by buying cigars and rum. The
fort also had some nice views. Lunch was family style, and the
dancers / musicians went nonstop. This was the last port for the
Fathom guides, and they were pretty nostalgic that this was the
end of their jobs. Our cultural exchange here was to sit through
a play (in Spanish) about the role of women in Cuban history. We
were promisied alcohol, but it didn't materialize.Our next day was at sea heading back to Miami. We went to a cocktail
class that was kinda lame, but had fun anyway. That night there was a gameshow
run by the Fathom guides, we all got on stage. After that the disco.