What I came away with was so much more than any of that. I am still searching for the words to describe how I feel and what I experienced. I hope my pictures will help tell my story. I think that my photos change as our trip goes on. Eric and I were lucky enough to meet new friends and fully immerse ourselves into the Cuban culture. Although Africa was my life-long dream trip, this trip moved me in ways I never expected. In Africa we spent so much time doing (wonderful!) things that we were unable to spend as much time learning the culture of the different places we visited. In Cuba we learned so much from the people, I hope I can express it here.
Day one began with a red-eye flight from Phoenix to Atlanta, on which neither of us were able to get much sleep. We had a 4 hour layover in Atlanta and luckily had access to a lounge where I got about an hour or two of shut-eye. Then we boarded the 90 minute flight to Havana.
Customs was a relatively easy process. Waiting on our luggage we saw Cubans arriving with TV's, air conditioners, and lots of car tires - some of the many items we learned they cannot get in their country. Once outside the airport we had to wait for almost an hour in a line to exchange our money into CUC's.
Once we had our CUC's we got a taxi to take us to our hotel. Havana is a relatively large city consisting of 15 municipalities and we stayed in Old Havana, or La Habana Vieja. We stayed in Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote from 1932 to 1939.
|Room 511 where Hemingway lived|
|The lobby bar was open 24 hours and had a lovely pianist|
|The walls were adorned with photos of Hemingway|
|Looking North toward the Gulf|
|Looking East - notice the HUGE cruise ship (ugh)|
|Wine for me (before I learned to like mojito's), crusty bread, butter, and a "salad"|
|Looking down into the streets|
|How cool is this guy?!|
|Sunset from our rooftop|
With food in our bellies and a nice little buzz, we set out to explore the city of Havana.
|Bookstore near our hotel - who, ironically, did NOT have any Hemingway novels.|
|Local artist who was actually working on this piece while we were browsing his work|
|Storefront - cleaning supplies|
|Old car parked out front of the bar|
|Hemingway and his bar|
|Our hotel was on Boulevar de Obispo|
|Grocery store - 2 rows of cases and that's it. They were very often out of bottled water.|
We decided to stop off for one more drink before going back to our room. We found a quiet little bar at Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno and ordered a rum daiquiri and a mojito. The bartender spoke a bit of English and talked to us about Cuba. He told us that the touristy resort spot, Varadero, was off limits to Cubans until 2009 when Raul Castro lifted the ban. He also told us how much Cubans respect Americans (his opinion, of course). And as we left he thanked us for coming in and said "Remember, Cubans love America!" A great ending to a great first (half) day!
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." ~ Confucius