A Week in Cuba - Part 1

We went to Cuba for a week!  Cuba has been under US embargo since 1960 and this combined with the repressive regime of communist dictator Fidel Castro have made Cuba into a time capsule of a country.  It's been illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba unless you qualified for a few rare categories but this January 2015 Obama expanded travel possibilities to Cuba and while we were there announced the reconnection of full diplomatic relations. 

There are a few direct charter flights to Cuba from the US as of June 2015 but they are expensive and not frequent.  We had to fly to the Nassau in the Bahamas first and then Havana.

In Cuba there is a whole network of "Casa Particulares" which are inside people's houses and are cool because they are cheap (usually $25-30) and inside someone's house so you get to see a little of Cuban life.  In reality the owners live in a separate part of the house so you don't actually hang out with them and don't see that much of their actual life.  But at least you're not in a sterile hotel that costs $175 or more (the price of the Hotel Nacional we stayed at).

can see all the way through this apartment.

nurses, airport security, other security guards, and pretty much anyone with a desk job have a uniform that is a mini skirt and fishnet stockings.  it was 50/50 fishnets or bare legs, it's amazing how many professions have the female uniforms be mini skirts

we stayed at Casa Isel y Ileana in Havana Vieja on Compostela between Empedrado and San Juan de Dios for the whole 6 nights we were in Havana.  They were very nice and I can recommend this place.

We stumbled into here on our very first mojito stop.  La Bodeguita del Medio is one of the places Hemmingway used to get drinks when he lived here, so it's on the tourist must map.  Despite this I feel like its cool and would have come back for more but at $5 for mojitos its the most expensive mojito we had (out of many many).  I think this was probably the best mojito we had in Cuba.

Don't know what the cigar game was like before or what it will be in the future now that the US is supposed to open up relations with Cuba but Cuban cigars are famous and were illegal for Americans to buy.  Monte Cristo and Cohiba are big names and it looks like there are $11-$13 each here at the bar and I imagine they are a lot more in the US if you can get one illegally.  I saw quickly online that you can get them in the US but they are made in the Dominican Republic so not badass as one from Cuba.

this little piece of caca was here every day.  There are tons of stray dogs all over Havana and Cuba.  We never saw any aggressive once and everyone seemed to like or be indifferent them all.

Havana Cathedral

because of the US embargo in 1960 Cuba is stuck with the cars they had in the 50's (or Russian, and some french cars) which is cool because vintage cars or cool but then not because they can't get parts for them so they are all knackered and breaking down all the time.  I can imagine that they would be able to machine these parts but cuba is so poor that I don't know if thats really possible.

Operación Milagro is a program of international solidarity launched in 2004 by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela to provide free medical treatment for people with eye problems in the two countries and 34 others in the Global South. (from wikipedia)

the nicest, best restored cars are in various tourist dense spots like in front of hotels and along the Malecon an 8km stretch of road that runs along the ocean.

waiting for the ball.  Seriously come at me bros

the Floridita is another place Hemmingway drank at.  He drank daiquiris here, yes daiquiris.  This is probably the #1 tourist spot and so it rightfully sucks.  The daiquiris tasted like they came from a bottle and it was full of nothing but tourists.  Thumbs down

I think this guy is dressed in some kind of traditional Cuban dance garb that's not Santeria

There's a whole system of basket/bags and ropes in Havana where they drop them down for street cart guys to put their wares in.

dog was barking at every dog that walked by in the street

Maria Julia from our casa showed us this Paladar for dinner.  Paladars are restaurants in people's houses although most of them look like they are pretty much restaurants that are just in an apartment building.  Paladars and Casa Particulares have to give a cut to the state.  This Paladar was just ok.

day one over.  After getting up at 3am for a 6am flight it's been a long day.