Sun: Embark From Miami,
Mon: Walking Tour Of Havana
Tue: Biosphere Havana
Wed: Day at Sea
Thur: Cienfugos
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 decide I 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.