Category Archives: Cuba


2nd & 3rd January 2016

Arrived in Trinidad in the afternoon with time for a wander around and a sketch, it’s full of character and characters. Staying at a casa particular, Casa Lola, which is a really nice change and something I’ve been looking forward to the whole trip.

Vlad offered to take anyone who wanted to go to the casa de la trova, only Jenny, Tanya and I went along. We chatted to a few random people there and I trotted of to buy somce cigars – Montecristos – apparently they’re the ones Che Guveura used to smoke! We also met a girl from NZ who was over staying with a Cuban guy she had met on a previous trip, boy they could dance, they took us to the plaza mayor where there was more music and dancing. Manuel & Gina bought a bottle of white rum and a couple of small cans of lemon squash – that was drinks sorted for the rest of the night!!! We tried to give them money but they said as a local the price for Manuel was cheap as chips.We had an absolute ball but no idea how to get back to our casa. With much laughter, pantomime and sketchy Spanglish we eventually found someone who pointed us in the right direction and we arrived safe and sound. It’s just so laid back and friendly here, everyone is happy to talk to us and include us in their lives.

After our late night the three of us opted out of the activities the next day. Slept late, had lunch with Jenny & Tanya then did a bit of shopping and a sketch. Met up with Manuel & Gina who invited us back for more dancing and music in the plaza.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuba, Travel

Good times and not so good on the way to Camaguay

31st December 2015

Off to Camaguay this morning with a stop at the church of El Cobre dedicated to the Virgin of Charity. We were in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra which brings to mind the revolution again, this is where Che Guevara and fellow revolutionaries were based for  some time.

Had a great stop on Bayamo where we were treated to more music and dancing at the Casa de la Trova. I particularly loved an old guy who gatecrashed the party and was dancing on his own just near the entrance, he was a classic!

Lunch at a nice old hotel, the Royalton, state owned so not very appetising but the building was cute. Settled myself in the park and started a sketch of a church after lunch before we hit the road again. We got to within 7kms of our next stop of Las Tunas when a cow ran across the road in front of the bus!!! Sadly our driver had no chance to stop and the poor cow bounced up and off the windscreen. Well, that started a bit of trouble, with the man looking after the cow along with half the farmers in the district, the driver and our guide getting rather uptight with each other. Police were called and another bus but it all took a couple of hours and meanwhile the cow was still suffering and trying to get up but just couldn’t manage to move anything but her head.

Was a very quite trip from there to Camaguay, I didn’t even stay up for New Year celebrations!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel

Santiago de Cuba – day 2

30th December 2015

Exploring Santiago de Cuba today with a visit to the Museum of the Carnival and the oldest house for guided tours and a wander around the shops in the morning. Couldn’t help myself, I bought a Che cap and a few of us had ice-cream at the flashest place around! A boat ride to another government owned restaurant for lunch but much nicer and better food than the one yesterday. Then on to the old fortress and museum for a few hours with dinner at a private rooftop restaurant to top off the day. Lobster for lunch and prawns for dinner – not a bad combo for the day! We finished off with a couple of hours at the bar swapping stories.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel

Santiago de Cuba

29th December 2015

I’d have loved a few more days in Baracoa. I found myself quite conflicted over the way things are, seems unemployment must be high as there were so many people just hanging around, living conditions aren’t the best for many and it’s quite third world in lots of ways. But, the people are just lovely, happy and friendly, so who am I to judge or feel sorry for them.

It’s a place I’d go back to anytime, although today the tour moves on to Santiago de Cuba. Had a pit-stop at a pretty lookout to “see” Guantanamo military base from afar then a stop in the town of Guantanamo to get our pass to be able to go on to Cainamera for lunch.

The resort we went to had been featured in a documentary I saw before coming to Cuba, however it seemed rather more desolate now. The swimming pool was partially filled with green water, there wasn’t a guest to be seen and every door was firmly closed apart from where we were ushered. Such a shame as it was in a lovely spot and seemed like it might have been quite a pick at one time. There was a cute entrance over a little bridge, an interesting little museum like room, a great lookout and lovely dining room, but that’s where the upside ended.

This would have to go down as the absolute worst meal I have ever been served – I’m no foodie and don’t complain or send meals back – ever – but this just has to take the cake, so to speak. It was actually hilarious, and reminded me again how very fortunate and probably spoilt I am (also everyone else in the tour group).



There was, as is normal in the state run places, a choice between fish or chicken. I chose the chicken and took one look and one bite and just couldn’t stomach any more. I did eat the salad which was the usual and fresh. But, my goodness, they must have boiled the poor old chook for hours to make it taste like that. The worst thing was, none of us ate the meat and were looking forward to sweets but worse was to come!!! I’ve never seen anything like it before – a saucer with what turned out to be apricot syrup with a piece of plastic cheese floating on top. Honestly, our faces were unbelievable, I checked, because I couldn’t believe my eyes. And the saddest thing was our tour guide and bus driver absolutely devoured theirs……… It actually made me feel like an absolute heel – I still didn’t eat it but I did say a silent apology for not being grateful.

There was a great place for further views of far off the Guantanamo military base, we were not supposed to take photos, but honestly, none of us had a camera with enough zoom to pick anything out at all.

On the way out we spotted the poolside bar and an ice-cream fridge. Being the hungry poor souls we were we started peering hopefully inside! Alas, it had chains around it and we were told it wasn’t working – and there were little tubs of ice-cream inside – the weirdest thing ever. Really, the whole place was very strange, a deserted resort, open just for lunch!!!

The drive to Santiago de Cuba seemed to take forever and when we arrived it was straight to the Santa Ifigena Cemetery where Jose Marti Perez and many other Cuban heroes are buried. Had an interesting tour and watched the changing of the guard at Marti’s shrine.

Then on to Revolution Square and it’s massive statue to honor another hero, Antonio Maceo Grajales. Near his statue are also 23 huge machetes rising from the ground representing March 23 1878, the date the war for independence started again after a short truce.

The hotel we stayed at, Hotel Melia Santiago, wouldn’t be out of place in any western city, just like thousands of others all over the world, multi-story, modern with pool and restaurants on the ground floor. Tanya, Jennie and I had dinner at a pizza place, later I met up with our guide, Vlad,  Jennie, Wendy – we were the only 3 interested in going to Casa de la La Trova to enjoy the music and dancing. Don’t think Vlad was impressed at having to take the driver and bus for just three but them’s the breaks apparently!

What a missed opportunity this was, not only for those who didn’t come along, but also for us who did, we didn’t stay anywhere near long enough. Wendy made the decision we’d only stay a couple of hours – neither Jennie or I had any idea of how long we wanted to stay, and oh, I’m kicking myself. What a wonderful place, the music was fantastic, dancing divine, and people watching to die for. Jennie and I absolutely loved it, not so sure about Wendy, she seemed to be in bit of a mood again. Another situation where solo travel would have been preferable……………

Apparently Trova music and dancing is native to Santiago de Cuba, I fell in love with Cuban music and dance on my first day in Baracoa and La Trova just drove me deeper with every minute I sat entranced. So wish I could move like the Cubans. Must say I was especially taken with a couple of the males showing their moves on the dance floor. There was an older gent dancing with with a tourist (in my opinion) who was just exquisite – and I only got blurry photos of him, such a travesty. Even allowing for my obvious infatuation this was a fantastic place that shouldn’t be missed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel