A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: pscotterly

Last Point on the Tour

Santiago de Cuba

As I finally get around to posting this entry, more than a month has passed since I basked in the warm weather and blue skies of Cuba. Spring has taken her own sweet time in coming to this part of the USA and my skin shivers looking back over my Santiago de Cuba photos. Which, of course, I must do - in addition to reviewing the brochures and trip itinerary - to actually remember all the places we visited.
I Don't Remembeer What This Is

I Don't Remembeer What This Is

Look Up

Look Up


Santiago de Cuba is developing itself as a tourist town because of its airport and proximity to beaches. We stayed at the Melia, which is very definitely a tour and tourist hotel - very modern, with large North American-style rooms.
Ah A Big Room 1920x1080

Ah A Big Room 1920x1080

14th Floor Sitting Area

14th Floor Sitting Area


As I sit here under cloudy skies in 40 degree temperature. I fondly remember all the things I saw and did. Right now, I wish I were sitting on this bench smoking cigars with my twin.
Could Be Me

Could Be Me


One of the events that now makes me warm:
Going to the Cutumba Dance Studio. I couldn't resist taking this photo of a one-legged man sitting outside the dance studio.
One-Legged Man at the Dance Studio

One-Legged Man at the Dance Studio


Cutumba Demonstration

Cutumba Demonstration


We met the director and dancers. Many of us participated in 30 minutes of lessons. My instructor was so tolerant. He counted "One, Two, Three." while I counted "Uno, Dos, Tres." Both of us wanting to pretend we were bi-lingual.
Dancing Cutumba

Dancing Cutumba


Not everyone participated in the dance instruction and apparently did not find observing very exciting either.
Not Everyone Participated in the Dance Class

Not Everyone Participated in the Dance Class


Another very interesting field trip was to the high school for artists. Although the conditions are not up to USA standards, the skill of the teachers and the students was certainly equal.
High School of Arts

High School of Arts


Painting Classroom

Painting Classroom

Student Self Portrait

Student Self Portrait


Another field trip took us to the village of El Cobre to visit the shrine of Cuba's patron saint.
Almost all Cubans revere this place and this statue.
Revered Patron Saint of Cuba

Revered Patron Saint of Cuba

From the Steps of the Shrine

From the Steps of the Shrine

Burro in El Cobre 975x818

Burro in El Cobre 975x818


In and around Santiago, there are many soldiers and revolutions to honor.
the Plaza de Revolucion is the monument to the freedom from Spain. This is one of my favorite plazas and sculptures.
Leading the Freedom from Spain

Leading the Freedom from Spain

My Favorite Revolution Sculpture

My Favorite Revolution Sculpture


These represent the scythes of the peasant guerrilla fighters. (But they seemed to look quite similar to the railroad track in the Santa Clara People's Revolution in Santa Clara.)
Victory Over Spanish Rule

Victory Over Spanish Rule


Santiago Plaze de Revolucion 591x769

Santiago Plaze de Revolucion 591x769


Eternal Flame for Freedom Fighters

Eternal Flame for Freedom Fighters


Atop San Juan Hill, just outside the city limits although there were many statues commemorating the battles and soldiers of the Spanish- American War, it is hard to imagine Teddy charging on horseback here.
Atop San Juan Hill 1785x1049

Atop San Juan Hill 1785x1049


We also stopped by the Moncado Barracks, where Fidel's men came down from the surrounding mountains and the revolution was started. Today, the building is a school.
Where Fidel's Revolution Started

Where Fidel's Revolution Started


Recreated Bullet Holes

Recreated Bullet Holes


The first attempt of the revolution was not very successful. Batista patched the bullet holes in the barracks. When Fidel came to power, he had the holes recreated from a photo taking before the patch job.
The officers' houses are now private homes - I don't know for whom.
Not All Neighborhoods Are This Nice

Not All Neighborhoods Are This Nice


Because this is such a frequently visited place by both Cubans and tourists, this neighborhood has received enough government money to keep it ship-shape. Also, much of Santiago received extensive Hurricane Sandy damage. It was necessary to rebuild many plazas and homes.
Refurbished Santiago de Cuba

Refurbished Santiago de Cuba


Government Building

Government Building

Herald

Herald

Good and Bad of Hurricane Sandy

Good and Bad of Hurricane Sandy


We also visited the Cemetery of Santa Ifigenia and watch the changing of the guards at the tomb of the Cuban national hero, Jose Marti. I must say it was quite a moving experience. Just like watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham or in Arlington.
Oh! Now, I recognize that photo at the top titled "I Don't Remember!" It is the tomb of Jose Marti! We could not take our cameras into the cemetery unless we paid a fee, so I took that photo from the parking lot. In retrospect, I should have paid the 5 CUCs and taken my camera; the tombs were spectacular.
We also visited the main plaza and the museum of Diego Velazquez, which is the oldest structure in Cuba. In the garden of this museum, we encountered Vidas Vocals.
The next day at the El Morro fortress, I heard those same unforgettable voices. As I said before, you see one fort, you've seen them all. I stayed in the small chapel and listened to them during our entire stay. I sat next to one of their husbands. He was a sailor from the Ukraine, whose ship had docked in Santiago a few years ago. He heard the group and never returned to the ship. Every Thursday, he walks up the mountain to El Morro when his wife performs her as a spiritual devotion and listens to them.
All tours must come to an end.
Goodbye Granma Island

Goodbye Granma Island


On February 14, 2015, I left Cuba.
It is a place where I might return someday. Next time, I will not hesitate to go on my own.

Posted by pscotterly 06:51 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Guantanamo

An Emotional Meeting

Until I visited Guantanamo, I knew only two things about Guantanamo:
1. The song Guantanamera
You might remember Jose FelicianoJ singing it, but every group throughout Cuba sings it at every performance. (PS - I have to admit I thought Jose had passed until I Googled to get a link!)
2. The American-held Guantanamo Bay including the notorious prison camp. (oh, go ahead and really learn about a prisoner's experiences.

But on this visit, at the Casa Del Changui -(you will need to translate this link) I learned there is a Province and city named Guantanamo.
Guantanameros

Guantanameros


This band and this man made me clap, smile, and cry.
An Emotional Welcome

An Emotional Welcome


As our Cuban guide interpreted, this man asked us to learn about Cuba and know that it was more than Guantanamo Bay. He talked about how we are neighbors and how we as people could be friends and know one another.
After the performance, I asked our Cuban guide to interpret my message to him about how many people from the USA are shamed by the prison and the history of Guantanamo Bay. Many of us also want to be friends and throw aside old wars of religion, politics, and torture.
We embraced. I wept.
We also attended the LaTumba Francesca Pompadour to learn this type of dance and see performances.
Dancing Demonstration

Dancing Demonstration

Guantanamo Folk Dancers

Guantanamo Folk Dancers

Percussionists

Percussionists


We had a dance lesson, but I neglected to get photos and don't know if anyone else has any of me waving my fan.
This is another UNESCO site, so this link will give you more information, sounds, and sights..
This place is quite well known, but don't know if it is government sponsored.

Our guide also wanted us to see a ration store and learn how to use a ration book. He took us to a Guantanamo City ration store.
Ration Store

Ration Store

Items Available Today

Items Available Today


It was quite sparsely supplied. Ration stores and books only provide the basic minimum. Notice the sign lists what is available today and the cost in ration coupons and Cuban pesos.
Everyone receives a ration book with allotments for basics like sugar, coffee, oil, meat, etc. No matter who you are, you will receive enough to survive. You must shop in the ration store assigned to where you live. Our Cuban guide could not shop here; he must shop at the ration store for his neighborhood.
The Five Welcomed Home

The Five Welcomed Home


In this ration store, as all over Cuba, posters reveled in the US release of the five Cubans charged with conspiracy to commit espionage.

Check It Out

Check It Out


I enjoyed this entire day in Guantanamo.
Of course, I enjoyed every single day of the 14. This one was just a wee bit more special.

Posted by pscotterly 09:16 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Everything Great but the Hotel

Camaguey, Cuba

Our journey from Trinidad to Camaguey was a few hours long and stopped at a "truck stop."
Roadstop Art

Roadstop Art

Remains of Old Sugar Mill

Remains of Old Sugar Mill


Cactus Fence

Cactus Fence


We arrived just as the sun was floating down.
Evening Begins

Evening Begins


Our hotel had a rooftop bar and seating area.
Sunrise over Camaguey

Sunrise over Camaguey


The Gran Hotel is in a perfect location near a plaza and on the boulevard, but this is where I had that terrible room for which I had to pay the single supplement. However, the nice big rooms are on the boulevard side of the hotel and many folks with the beautiful spacious rooms complained about the revelers. In the smaller towns and rural areas the cocks crowed at 5 AM; here the music and party-goers were going until almost that time - it is hard to please everyone all the time.
But, I still enjoyed my time here and would recommend the hotel for the location - unless you can locate a good particular (B and B) or a smaller smaller hotel for those of you not on a tour.
We were free to visit around the city on our own a bit.
Colonial Architecture

Colonial Architecture


A Hero in Every Plaza

A Hero in Every Plaza

Arts and Crafts in the Plaza

Arts and Crafts in the Plaza


Peeking in the Garden

Peeking in the Garden

Gato Azul Gallery

Gato Azul Gallery

Mabel Gives Me a Haircut

Mabel Gives Me a Haircut


We also went to the people's market. I think some of the vendors are entrepreneurs and some of the stands are owned by the government.
Produce Market

Produce Market

Pig's Feet Vendor

Pig's Feet Vendor

Minding the Market

Minding the Market

Garlic Aisle

Garlic Aisle


I bought some bananas from a man who sells the bananas from his own tree.
Banana Stand

Banana Stand


Hardware Stand

Hardware Stand

Everywhere

Everywhere


We visited a professional ballet company , the Ballet of Camaguey. Most of the members were touring, but we watched practice sessions and had a discussion session with the operations manager. The huge mansion and property had been her family's private home. She gave it to the government for use as the ballet company.
At the School of Ballet Arts

At the School of Ballet Arts


Be sure to visit Plaza del Carmen and the gallery of the artist Martha Jimenez, who has received UNESCO recognition for her work and the plaza that houses much of her work. We were lucky enough to have a visit with the artist. I purchased two small plaques. She does large sculpture, oils, prints - very talented and personable.
The Gossipers

The Gossipers

Spouses

Spouses

Public Art and Delivery Transport

Public Art and Delivery Transport

Plaza with Marta's Works

Plaza with Marta's Works

Our journey took us to the King Ranch. We had a guide who had worked there his whole life (I don't know if this link has anything to do with him) and saw a rodeo demonstration.
At the King Ranch

At the King Ranch

On the Ranch

On the Ranch

Rodeo at the King Ranch

Rodeo at the King Ranch

Rodeo Cattle

Rodeo Cattle


It is also possible to participate in this event as a tourist center-sponsored tour out of Camaguey.
Part of the tour takes you to a village where many of the residents are workers on the ranch.
Entering the Village

Entering the Village

Country Village

Country Village

Coolest Spot in Town

Coolest Spot in Town

Behind the Village

Behind the Village


Pastoral Scene

Pastoral Scene

Laundry in the Village

Laundry in the Village

In the Village

In the Village

Flowers on a Fence

Flowers on a Fence

For Diarrhea

For Diarrhea


We visited the school and had a cup of coffee and hand-pressed sugar water at a local home. They do not bet, but the children stand and hand you flowers. Had I known, I would have taken a bag of treats. Road Scholar does leave a donation for the school. Although initially you feel you are infringing on the people's privacy, they have actually organized this as a tourist activity and receive some monetary benefit from it. The local guide told me not to feel bad about touring this village and not having a personal gift. "This village gets more than any other surrounding village because they have a business."
I am sure this village is a bit tidier than the others, but it is still typical of many rural villages in this province and a delight to visit.
Here Chick Chick

Here Chick Chick

Headed Out to Pasture

Headed Out to Pasture

For Dinner Not Pets

For Dinner Not Pets


Village Yard

Village Yard

Village Homes

Village Homes

Village Home-001

Village Home-001

Village Home

Village Home

Verdant Garden

Verdant Garden

To Be Fattened

To Be Fattened


Back at the ranch, we were hosted to a very delicious pig roast.
Roasted Pork

Roasted Pork

Please Drop Some

Please Drop Some


While in Camaguey, we ate at several fine restaurants and were entertained by musicians at each.
Very Fine Jazz Musicians

Very Fine Jazz Musicians

Sr o Sra

Sr o Sra


This was also the town where I observed the morning trash pick-up. The horse would patiently stand in the street while people brought their trash out and dumped it in the wagon and as the driver went to some of the doors and received the trash in a bucket.
Trash Pickup

Trash Pickup


I also observed someone receive a citation for, apparently, being more reckless than the trashman.
Traffic Violation

Traffic Violation

Posted by pscotterly 06:51 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba Comments (0)

Trinidad, Cuba

Could Do More Than I Did

Trinidad

Trinidad


There is more to see and do in Trinidad, Cuba than what I experienced.
I am not complaining, just commenting that one could spend more time here than I did.
This is the stop where we stayed in the privately owned particular (bed and breakfast). You can see more photos and a description of that in the blog posting "Put Your Head on a Pillow."

I caused a bit of confusion that night.
While on the tour bus, our guide read off our names with the name of the our particular host. Then we all clambered off the bus to clusters of waiting Cubans.
No one said anything to anyone. Our guides did not seem to be making any further attempts at connecting us.
I walked around saying, "mi llama Paula. Tu llama Conchita?"
I don't even know if that is remotely correct grammar.
Various people pointed toward a trio of waiting hosts.
I walked over and asked, "Conchita?"
"Si, Si," was the reply as the other two women who were supposed to stay at Conshita's joined me.Then they herded us along the unlit, cobblestone streets for about a mile.
None of the hosts spoke English. None of the guests spoke Spanish.
Although we had been told we would have a trek to our hosts' homes, one in my group loudly complained the entire way about having to walk. It was NOT I.
We arrived at a very large home with central plaza and many guest rooms. I had a very large single room. The other two women shared a room.
There were still some complaints from my co-travelers. The hosts were busy cooking and trying to make us comfortable.
Suddenly, one of the guides appeared at the home with five other members of our tour.
We had come to the wrong particular. This was not Conchita's. It was Maria's.

My complaining co-traveler threw a fit. She refused to move. "We all asked the name. They should have not said Si, Si. I am not moving from here."

Fortunately, it was a large guest house. They had enough rooms to keep her there.

I gladly went to where I was supposed to stay and was joined by two other group members who shared double occupancy. We never did quite figure out where they were supposed to be.

Lo and behold if one of those ladies didn't cause another hullabaloo the next day.
Our host gave us a map and showed us how to walk to the Plaza Major. He said if we returned by 10 AM, we would have time to view the ceramics factory and still walk to meet our tour bus by 11.
We started down the cobblestone streets.
8 AM Saturday

8 AM Saturday


Two of us wanted to take our time, get some good photos, and see the sites. Maybe even talk to one or two people.
Typical Street in Trinidad

Typical Street in Trinidad

To the Cathedral

To the Cathedral


One of the ladies was determined to get to the plaza by 9 AM. She walked quickly and never looked back as the two of us ambled. At some point we lost sight of her. We were a little worried about her, but figured we would meet up in the plaza.
Santa Anna Church Remains

Santa Anna Church Remains


Eventually, we did meet up. It was approaching 9:30.
She was in a snit and wanted to get back before 10 AM, so started to return to the particular. She could not get adjusted to "Cuban time" or a leisurely vacation.
I ran after her asking if she knew where to go because I had the map.
She replied, "Of course. I am going up this street and turn left."
I gave her the business card for our particular so she at least had the information if she needed to ask someone for directions.
The other co-traveler and I did some shopping and took more photos.
Then we started walking back to the particular. About 1/3 of the way home, we see our host coming towards us. "Where is (not to be named co-traveler)?" he asked. "I have phone call from plaza. They tell me she cannot find way."
We kept on our merry way home.
Foliage in Santa Anna Plaza

Foliage in Santa Anna Plaza

Playing at the Santa Anna Remains

Playing at the Santa Anna Remains


Eventually, we were all reunited.
These two episodes illustrate occurrences with group travel:
- It was never mentioned that she had been lost. Several days later when I referenced it, she said "I think you are making a pun." (pun??????)
- I had a reputation in the group for taking off on my own to explore - I never got lost, but I sure would have made a good story out of it if I had!
- The "complain about walking" member frequently took off on long walks without the group - she just didn't want to do it when it was not her idea.

Some members of our tour stayed in parcticulars closer to the plaza. After dinner they walked down and watched almost the entire town come out for music and dancing in the street. I am sorry I missed that.
Trinidad has many galleries, craft vendors, and souvenir shops.
They also have museums - none of which I found the time to visit.
Trinidad has a visitors' bureau with information and tours available in English. It is close to some of the beach resort areas, so has been developing the tourist trade over the past few years.
Here, you seem to be able to see the obvious difference between the areas where tourist income has made a difference and where it has not.
Plaza Major en Trinidad

Plaza Major en Trinidad

Garlic and Onions to Market

Garlic and Onions to Market

Finest Plaza of the Tour

Finest Plaza of the Tour

Colorful Doorway

Colorful Doorway

Waiting

Waiting


Trinidad has been known for ceramics production for many years.
The large government-owned factory that makes the urns in the public square was closed for the day.
Emblematic Ceramics of Trinidad

Emblematic Ceramics of Trinidad


We did visit a workshop that received many awards from Fidel. It is now a privately owned company that employs several people and pays taxes. It is on the tourist route. Watch this home video by a Rumanian tourist to get a complete picture of the workshop.
Bell Chimes

Bell Chimes

Pottery Waiting for Buyers

Pottery Waiting for Buyers

The Famous Potter Now Putters

The Famous Potter Now Putters


We also had a fine lunch.
Which Bano Would You Use

Which Bano Would You Use


Many of the paladors use clever ways to identify the Senor and Senora toilets. (They usually don't supply tissue however.)
This was one of our favorites.

Posted by pscotterly 06:17 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba Comments (0)

Cienfuegos

Close to the Beach Resorts

Cienfuegos is another UNESCO-supported city.
Initially settled by the French, the architecture is different from much of the Spanish-influenced remainder of the Island.
Few Streets Are Crowded

Few Streets Are Crowded

Another Street in Cienfuegos

Another Street in Cienfuegos

Garden Wall

Garden Wall

Afternoon Street Scene

Afternoon Street Scene


We stopped here for a great lunch along the beach.
Another Fine Meal

Another Fine Meal

Chicken and Rice

Chicken and Rice


To visit the street markets.
Mercado Booth

Mercado Booth

Boulevard Markets Are Crowded

Boulevard Markets Are Crowded


I purchased a few items in the market and talked to several vendors. All had been teachers, but discovered they could make more money selling their handmade crafts in the market. They gave up their teacher salaries, but still receive the ration books and other social benefits.
The Silverware Jewelry Artist

The Silverware Jewelry Artist


And, best of all, to hear the professional choir of Cienfuegos.
The Wonderful Choir of Cienfuegos

The Wonderful Choir of Cienfuegos


When they sang Shenandoah, several of us actually wept - maybe that is because we could understand the words, but it was also beautiful.
Oh, listen to them sing more songs if you want.
Google Cantoresdecienfuegos and you can listen all you want!

Many groups and solo tourists come to this area to stay out on the wonderful coastal resorts a few miles from the city center. There are also many private houses along the water in the city, but I have no idea who lives or stays here - definitely people with money.
Seaside Resort for the Rich

Seaside Resort for the Rich

Posted by pscotterly 04:55 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

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