Just go with the flow: 11/29/17 Wednesday

This morning I ran the direction we had driven yesterday to find a walking path Cleve had pointed out to me.  It’s built into a wide median in the middle of the street for miles down Embassy Row which is a pretty nice area of town.  There were lots of people out walking, exercising, getting on and off buses, etc.  A normal working and school morning.  It’s nice to be on vacation and not at work myself!  It began to rain, then pour, then the sun came out, all in about 20 minutes.  There was a beautiful rainbow!

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We were all supposed to meet up at 10:15 but it ended up being about 10:45 when everyone finished breakfast and finally were corralled together.  Cleve, as I have mentioned, is quite a talker and today once we finally gathered we did a lot of discussing about possible plans for today and tomorrow, with tons of repeated commentary.  It felt disorganized and all of us were a bit frustrated.  Not just with him but with each other and the lack of plans coming together. Cleve lets everyone know up front (before the trip even starts) that his trips are “adventures” due to various constantly-changing factors, much of the time totally out of the control of Cleve or guides that he works with.  Sometimes roads are closed, parks or museums are closed or hours altered, sometimes the weather is uncooperative.  Sometimes the elevator breaks, or the group taxi you thought was available now isn’t and there’s not a lot (or any) communication or explanation why or offer of an alternative.  Sometimes there’s not an alternative.

We had a change of plans for today due to some group dynamic “issues”, and I’ll leave it at that.  Originally (and I don’t even know when “originally” refers to because our itinerary is really just an example of some of the things we might do during the week, and each day is not usually planned in advance of a day) we were all six going to be in a large rented taxi to drive 2.5 hours west to a beautiful valley called Vinales.  There are tobacco farms there which we would visit as well.  ANYWAY, now not today.  But we will go tomorrow.

Now after 11am and still no plan, a few were getting obviously perturbed and finally Cleve and Amauri presented a plan that we’d take two cars to visit an impressively large Jesuit church built in Centra Havana (a more run-down area of town) in the 1800s.  It was interesting, and Charlotte and I had a nice conversation with the woman at the door. These are the experiences I love which come about all the time.  Strike up a (broken-Spanish) conversation with a local person and get a much more full experience, no matter what activity you’re attending.  Having Charlotte with me much of the time on this trip is very helpful because she speaks Spanish fluently, is very friendly and loves connecting with people.  She’s also patient and helps me with my Spanish.

 

I love this photo of Charlotte at the front of the church with the light sifting down onto her head

I love this photo of Charlotte at the front of the church with the light sifting down onto her head

 

Upon leaving the church, we boarded a ferry for a short trip across the bay to a little town called Regla (it means “rule” or “the way to go”).  In the 1920s it was very instrumental to Havana in that it was where boats, equipment, and building material were repaired after hurricanes and where ship maintenance occurred.  There are also refineries for sugar and petroleum.  None of these things are exported, we learned, due to the cost to do so.  Much of Cuba is self-sustaining but not able to support what it would take to upgrade equipment or infrastructure to export products in an income-producing way.  We learned these things on a tour we took at a small but impressive museum there. For 3CUC$ we gained entry and a very knowledgeable and personable tour guide.  We also learned more about Cuba’s history (on top of what we heard yesterday at the National Hotel).  Lastly we learned some about the history and influences of Santeria (and African religion combined with Catholicism) on this area.

 

Looking back at the Havana harbor over someone's shoulder through the door-opening of the ferry on the way to the little town of Regla

Looking back at the Havana harbor over someone’s shoulder through the door-opening of the ferry on the way to the little town of Regla

Another very knowledgable tour guide of a tiny museum that housed a ton of history.

Another very knowledgable tour guide of a tiny museum that housed a ton of history.  Here, he is explaining the significance of some objects used in Santeria.

 

We arrived back to main Havana around 3pm and went for lunch at a very nice (upscale) restaurant overlooking the sea, called Castropol.  My experience is that service here in Cuba varies quite a bit. These servers were attentive and kind but most service here takes a while. It also appears you have to ask for the bill unless you want to just keep sitting there…for a long time..  We left just before 5pm visit a large historical cemetery but when we arrived it was closed, despite the posted hours saying Open.  So we stopped at a park where there is a special John Lenin statue, and lots of kids and families out playing.  It was a nice time of early evening, warm with a breeze and just before sunset.

 

The Beatles' music was banned from communist Cuba in the 60s and 70s.   20 yrs after Lennon's death, Castro decided to honor the musical icon.. “I share his dreams completely. I too am a dreamer who has seen his dreams turn into reality.”  Lennon was also harassed by the US government in the later years of his life, and Cuba considers him a rebel and a victim; a kindred spirit to Cuba’s relationship with the US. (quote from online article atlasobscura.com)

The Beatles’ music was banned from communist Cuba in the 60s and 70s.
20 yrs after Lennon’s death, Castro decided to honor the musical icon.. “I share his dreams completely. I too am a dreamer who has seen his dreams turn into reality.” Lennon was also harassed by the US government in the later years of his life, and Cuba considers him a rebel and a victim; a kindred spirit to Cuba’s relationship with the US. (quote from online article atlasobscura.com)

 

The ferry trip and tour in Regla was my favorite today.  As much as I’ve been loving and learning by going many places right in Havana, it was nice to get just outside of it.  Tomorrow I am looking forward to seeing some other areas of this island as well.

 

Mojitos are everywhere here; the Cuban rum "El ron de Cuba" is smooth and the mint sprigs are always fresh!

Mojitos are everywhere here; the Cuban rum “El ron de Cuba” is smooth and the mint sprigs are always fresh!

 

Tonight I need a break from people!  Charlotte said she could use a restful evening as well, so we agree to do our own thing. I went to pick up some food for dinner for her so she could stay in, and just as I was leaving with the food it began pouring rain.  Like, torrential.  I was only one block away from the apartment but if I walked outside at that moment it would have been like someone threw a bucket of water on me.  It had done this a couple days ago when we were all in an art market.  It seems this kind of rain doesn’t last too long, so it’s possible to wait out the downpour.  After about 10 minutes I put a plastic bag over my head and walked home.  It was not cold at all, quite steamy really.  After leaving Charlotte happy and set, I went out and about with my wifi card, iPad, and a smile.

 

 

 

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