quote:
Originally posted by irwin:
I think the "must dos" include:
1) A trip to the Museum of the Revolution
2) A mojito at La Floridita (where Hemingway used to drink)
3) Stroll through the outdoor shopping flea market near the Cathedral.

You staying at Parque Central?


Cheers for that. Might stay at a resort in Varadero. Not sure which one to, though...
Adam, I'd love to hear your impressions of the country when you return.

Not to be "that guy", but you should make one of your "must-dos" to travel outside of the pure tourist haven, and venture into the real country. Cuba is an extremely impoverished nation, and tourists are purposely shielded from the poverty since it's a product of the intolerant, inept, abusive, and criminal government that has been in place for over 50 years.

The architecture is incredible, it's looks like ruins-in-progress of what was clearly once beautiful buildings.

I hope you enjoy your trip, the beaches are still considered the most beautiful in the Caribbean by many.
jorgerunfast is right. We went west to the Pinar del Rio region (which is deluged by hurricanes periodically). Saw a guy plowing his field with an ox. Went to a one room schoolhouse where a crayon was a luxury.
The whole country is less than a 3rd world place, thanks to the Communist regime.
quote:
Originally posted by jorgerunfast:
Not to be "that guy", but you should make one of your "must-dos" to travel outside of the pure tourist haven, and venture into the real country. Cuba is an extremely impoverished nation, and tourists are purposely shielded from the poverty since it's a product of the intolerant, inept, abusive, and criminal government that has been in place for over 50 years.

The architecture is incredible, it's looks like ruins-in-progress of what was clearly once beautiful buildings.

I hope you enjoy your trip, the beaches are still considered the most beautiful in the Caribbean by many.


Let's not forget that that part of that impoverishment was the direct result of US foreign policy isolating Cuba from getting much needed medical and infrastructure materials imported.
this is most certainly not a road i will go down, and for the record, i believe the time has come to lift the blockade.

However, make no mistake, at the time in which the blockade was enacted, it was necessary. don't forget that cuba is a mere 90 miles from US soil (key west), and when the Castro regime executed their military coup and rode into havana in tanks took power, they became an ally of the USSR and went so far as to allow the USSR to build a missile base on cuban soil (again, just 90 miles from the US).

i realize Cuba is a speck of land in the carribbean, and utterly meaningless to most, but don't kid yourselves - the Castro regime is a regime of murderers and military dictators. they committed mass executions regularly, took prisoners without so much as a shred of due process, stole everything from its citizens, and on, and on, and on.

now the communist regime has run the country dry. everyone is dirt poor and there's nothing left to milk from its citizens - so it's easy to blame the big guy 90 miles away - but don't forget that less than 30 years ago, they had nooooo problem threatening the US with nuclear missiles.

anyway, it's my cultural duty to rant. i won't get into it any further because it's impolite to say the least, but the story of cuban immigrants (and what drove them to run) is all too often, easily forgotten - and blaming the US for the current state of Cuba is a pretty ignorant finger-point.
quote:
Originally posted by jorgerunfast:
this is most certainly not a road i will go down, and for the record, i believe the time has come to lift the blockade. I agree.

anyway, it's my cultural duty to rant. i won't get into it any further because it's impolite to say the least, but the story of cuban immigrants (and what drove them to run) is all too often, easily forgotten - and blaming the US for the current state of Cuba is a pretty ignorant finger-point.


Jorge, I can sympathize that this is a touchy topic for you and I am treading lightly. but please read my previous post carefully. I did not blame the US for its current state. I did say it had an effect on its poverty due to the embargo. Embargo's have a tendency to hurt everyone involved, governments and the people. Right or wrong. If you cannot see my point, then we'll agree to respectfully disagree.
Yes, I think I'm about to become "That Guy!" Big Grin

I think the part we shouldn't forget, is that Castro was harboring "nucs" and urging Kruschev into a preemptive strike against the US. The embargo was never designed to "work" (it was merely a smoke screen prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion). When the invasion failed, it was all the US had to hang its hat on. In the end, Castro is responsible for Cubas plight though, not the US.

He is also free to trade with any other country in the world. The fact that he uses what money he gets to fuel his regime, and pay the people in worthless pesos is what's making the people suffer.
quote:
Originally posted by Mimik:
quote:
Originally posted by jorgerunfast:
this is most certainly not a road i will go down, and for the record, i believe the time has come to lift the blockade. I agree.

anyway, it's my cultural duty to rant. i won't get into it any further because it's impolite to say the least, but the story of cuban immigrants (and what drove them to run) is all too often, easily forgotten - and blaming the US for the current state of Cuba is a pretty ignorant finger-point.


Jorge, I can sympathize that this is a touchy topic for you and I am treading lightly. but please read my previous post carefully. I did not blame the US for its current state. I did say it had an effect on its poverty due to the embargo. Embargo's have a tendency to hurt everyone involved, governments and the people. Right or wrong. If you cannot see that, then we'll agree to respectfully disagree.


Mimik, I can definitely see that, and i appreciate you being respectful of the circumstance and having the ability to have a discussion (and not go off and lose it on this board when someone tries to make a counterpoint).

I just want to make clear that the US was put into a tough situation, and they can't be blamed outright for the situation that Cuba finds itself in.

As for embargos (and leaving cuba completely aside for a moment), i completely agree - but then we're back to the million dollar question - what do you do??
I agree that the embargo should be lifted...but only when the Castros are out.

You cannot forgive a dictator who has shot civilian airplanes out of the sky, was a (potential) linch pin to WWlll, is a murderer, has emptied his prisons on our beaches, has sided with every enemy we've ever had, only to later reward him with our trade.

It's bad foreign policy to send a message to our enemies that eventually we will forgive and even reward them. Every president has agreed (since Kennedy) that this is what should happen. As I mentioned, the money will NOT get to the people UNTIL they are out.
quote:
Originally posted by jorgerunfast:
Adam, I'd love to hear your impressions of the country when you return.

Not to be "that guy", but you should make one of your "must-dos" to travel outside of the pure tourist haven, and venture into the real country. Cuba is an extremely impoverished nation, and tourists are purposely shielded from the poverty since it's a product of the intolerant, inept, abusive, and criminal government that has been in place for over 50 years.

The architecture is incredible, it's looks like ruins-in-progress of what was clearly once beautiful buildings.

I hope you enjoy your trip, the beaches are still considered the most beautiful in the Caribbean by many.


I've already been to the south end of the island and as I'm that kind of guy, I went outside the pure tourist haven. Although they're definitely dirt poor, they seemed bloody happy. I know it's propaganda but 'Sicko' shed some light on their deal with healthcare etc. Don't forget we're super spoilt with 'luxuries', too. I don't mean to make light of it all though, I'm just saying I've yet to see a frowning Cuban. Seriously.

And I've always wanted to visit Miami. Smile
quote:
Originally posted by MiamiAtty:
Agreed Mimik. After that post I sent jorge an email. I told him that I hope I didn't discourage you from comming to Miami. Big Grin


Why? Nothing wrong in the post. I'll just leave my Viva la Revolucion T-shirt at home. Wink Razz
quote:
Originally posted by Pinotlvr:
I'm more curious in Irwin's experience.

How'd you get there?
What did you do to ensure there's no proof you spent money there?
Did your passport get stamped?


I went on a cultural/religious mission, fully authorized by the US State Department, in October of 2001. To get there, we flew from Baltimore to NY and overnighted at a terrible hotel in NY at the airport. Then flew to Bahamas. Then to Cuba aboard Havana Air, or Air Cuba or something. The plane was held together with chewing gum. Half the seats had no seat belts. They were not quite as sturdy as lawn chairs.
But, in Havana and Cuba (6 days) we left medical supplies and OTC medications and humanitarian aid with some charitable organizations run by the teeny Jewish population. My wife and I had 70 pounds of luggage on the way there, and only 28 on the way out.
Besides food and drink and the hotel, the only things we purchased were two prints at the outdoor flea market ($5) and two mugs from the Art gallery ($4). And, actually, we were authorized by our State Department paperwork to bring back 2 boxes of Cuban cigars each! We only bought 2 boxes and, since I don't smoke anything but salmon and ribs, I just gave the cigars away to friends who I knew would like them.
(Sorry, PH, didn't know you then).
When we flew into NY, it was just 1 month after 9/11/01 and we could from the sky look down to where the World Trade Center towers were and saw smoke coming up....a month after.

The food in Cuba is not good. Spices are very expensive, and so they have none. Adam10--I'd recommend that you bring some pepper, salt and hot sauce. Everything is very bland. Every lunch and dinner comes with rice and beans, or, for the sake of variety, you can get beans and rice.

At first you'd think that since Cuba is an island they'd have good Caribbean seafood. Problem is that the government doesn't let people take boats out for fishing. They wouldn't return. So, the only seafood is that which can be caught in a river or from the shore.

The Cuban population is 99% literate. They get really good health care. Sports is emphasized. Those are Castro's 3 biggest successes. His 3 biggest failures are breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Anyway, I don't think our passports were stamped. At the airport to leave Cuba (same itinerary), on the way out each person was isolated in a little booth with a member of the Cuban police force who interrogated you to find out where you were, who you were with, what you did, etc.

We had a wonderful tour guide. He was a mechanical engineer who made $25 per month at that job. So, since he could speak English well, he got the job as a tour guide since he could make well more than that in tips. Of course, you never know who is listening to your conversations. So, when we were about to leave, I gave him a pen that I had with my office's name, address and phone on it. I whispered to him that if he or his family were ever able to get out to look me up. I'd put him up for a bit and help them find a place to live, etc. Of course, I've heard nothing.
They have no Internet access. The government jams all radio broadcasts from the US.
The Cubans are wonderful mechanics. They have very few automobiles built after 1960.

What Castro has done is to squelch all competition and all capitalism. Yes, they can trade (and do trade) with nations other than the US....the Europeans, other island nations, and Canada. The problem is they have nothing to trade. Other than cigars, they essentially manufacture nothing. Agriculture is subsistence. They have started to have a few "fancy" resorts which are run as joint ventures with some European companies.
But, economically speaking, the country is a disaster.
Yet, the people are pretty happy on the outside. This is, so far as I can tell, because everyone is equally miserable. We saw no Cubans who were obese and none with bad teeth. Why? They have no food to eat to become obese and no candy to eat to rot their teeth (and free dental care).
Oh.I did buy a CD of Cuban music.
quote:
Originally posted by irwin:
And, actually, we were authorized by our State Department paperwork to bring back 2 boxes of Cuban cigars each!

Great read, irwin. Thanks.

What a joke regarding the cigars. Pure hypocrisy. God forbid you get caught with ONE in your car if you cross the border into the States. I've quite a humorous story about that if we off-line some time.
Thanks for the compliments. It was a pretty unforgettable trip.

At one point we were in Pinar Del Rio (a western province) and my wife and I were out for a stroll. We came upon a small building and went to it and it was a one room school house. No door, just a doorway. So we just poked our heads in, and it was right in the middle of class. The students looked at us and rose to their feet and stood at attention by their desks. (I can't get that kind of respect around here from anyone!)

We went to Sabbath services at one of the synagogues in Havana, and I was surprised that I recognized many of the tunes for the prayers that are the same tunes that we use here. There was a person on our trip (about 15 people in the group) who had lived in Cuba as a kid and fled in 1959 with his family to the US. His father had died in Cuba prior to that. The group went to the Jewish cemetery in Havana and we visited the grave of the man's father. It was the guys first trip to visit his father's grave in 42 years. We said the "Kaddish" prayer, a traditional prayer that one says at a grave of a relative and at certain other times.
It was pretty moving.

Gee I didn't say anything about the wine that was available in Cuba. Guess why? No decent wine.

I'd recommend the Museum of Fine Arts also.

A word on the Museum of the Revolution. You go there and there are exhibits on great Cubans. Just like if you went to a museum here, there would be an exhibit on some great Americans. Well, there would be a picture of some guy named Jose Rodriguez, dressed in rags and the caption reads "Jose Rodriguez worked as a trash collector for 45 years". Or, "Maria Lopez worked in the cigar factory for 50 years". You see, working for the state is regarded as the pinnacle. Then, they bring the school kids through, show them the exhibits, and it teaches the kids that working for the state is the best thing to do, and it gets you in the museum. Castro has killed any form of independent spirit, except for I suppose the prostitutes who cater to the foreign visitors. Big AIDS problem in Cuba, by the way.

Just another trip to make me feel how great it is to be able to live in the United States.
Thanks Irwin.

My Dad just left this morning for a golfing trip there. As I said, I've been to the south end and whilst I appreciate the need for some hot sauce perhaps, salt and pepper??? Really?
Don't remember not having those, but surely they have them there.

No half decent wine at all? Is it Cuban? It's been years (over a decade) since I've been.

Rum it is then?

Cheers again.

Dumpster dive, but for a reason.

Mrs. Haggis has suggested that we go to Cuba later this year or early next.  I was planning to go to Mexico on my US passport, then to Cuba and back to Mexico on my UK passport.  However, my father says he has gone to/from Mexico/Cuba on his US passport with no problems. 

What do all of you suggest?  What are your experiences?  TIA.

So, no experience going into and out of Cuba from Mexico on a US passport?  I have heard from some others that it's easy, but I am not sure I want to risk it. 

Otherwise, I'll use my UK one (assuming it will still work after Brexit!).  Looking forward to a Scottish passport   That is an exploding haggis, by the way!

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