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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Havana, Cuba

Feb 1, 2014 - Marina Hemmingway

Today is the day of my two dives in Marina Hemmingway. I called ahead, set up a reservation and requested to do one reef dive and one cave dive. Last night, I reviewed some material relating to scuba just to make sure the information was still fresh. Right before I passed out, I realized that units everywhere in the world are the SI system which means I cannot talk pounds or feet with the dive master on the boat. I thought my phone had a unit convertor but I couldn’t find it so I guess it doesn’t. Last fear of mine was not being able to...

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Xela 2012

Jan 31, 2014 - National Botanical Garden

After smelling all the smog in Havana, it was nice to visit the national botanical garden today. We left with nos maestros after breakfast in a taxi which was fully air conditioned. After a 20 minute ride, we arrived at this haven filled with national flora and a few international floras. They also had 3 greenhouses – one for desert plants, one of rain forest plants and one for sub-tropical plants. Given that the park was very big, we took a train around it. The train was made of a carriage dragged by a tractor which seemed to have problems...

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Xela 2012

Jan 30, 2014 - Back to Havana

Arrived safe and sound back at the Occidental - seems we are staying as a group in the posh bit so am waiting for a room to be ready. As tehre will not be much to say about today I have put together some general information on life here that I hope are interesting to read through Everyone is hugely nationalistic although few people have even travelled within Cuba. In Vinales they are allowed to develop tourism by letting out their typical villas as B&. The police check on everything and my first guide was frightened when, approaching the...

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Cuba and Colombia

Jan 29, 2014 - Orientatoin

I have been in Cuba for less than three days and already I am itching to break from the group and explore the island and Havana solo. During the first week of this program, the students are provided with a formal orientation which includes tours of Havana, Havana Vieja, help with class registration at La Universidad and introductions to the local program directors. Today, the program directors took us on a fascinating walking tour of Havana Vieja (old Havana). Havana Vieja is located about 10 minutes east of Havana and to me is the historic...

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Xela 2012

Jan 27, 2014 - Initial Moves

For the first time in my travels, I have embarked on a trip with other people from the US and due to the logistics of the program, it seems like we will spend a lot of time together thus I might not be the lone wolf I usually like to be. We all identify with a similar desire to visit Cuba but for different reasons spanning culture, politics and language. With that said, rather than documenting the opinions of my companeros, I have decided to directly feature them in my posts. They have agreed to type a section or two from time to time on...

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Xela 2012

Jan 25, 2014 - Cuba At Last

Bueno. After a three and a half hour flight, I have accomplished the main portion of my goal; to get to Cuba. My first reaction after landing in Cuba was; “oh my God, they have jet ways at the airport.” Why is that surprising? In thinking about my initial expectations, I put Cuba in a similar developmental class as Ghana and now, I know that I was significantly wrong. To put this in the right terminology, in my opinion, Cuba is the exact definition of a 2nd world country. I say this because despite having a communist regime, which has...

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Xela 2012

Jan 25, 2014 - Rest Day in Havana by the sea

23-25 Jan One night in the Hotel ‘pod’ at Gatwick south terminal has relieved me of my curiosity. Perhaps, in transit and no luggage it is fine for a few hours kip and a shower. They are made out like strngs of railway carriages but more square; One step inside and you can walk no further. The anti-slip flooring glues your suitcase to the floor and guarantees leg injury when you try to reclaim it. The 1 metre bed bunks are comfortable but the air con is cold and, can only be turned down – not off by climbing on the bunk and turning the...

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Cuba and Colombia

Mar 27, 2013 - Bay of Pigs and Cienfeugos

Today we drove back via Havana to the Bay of Pigs, passing Central Australia on the way. The area is named after a sugar mill built in 1904. During the 1961 Bay of Pigs American invasion Fidel moved his headquarters to the mill. Throughout Cuba the only billboards are propaganda ones and here is no different. There are huge billboards about Cuba's victory against the Yankee infidels. Our guide rushed us through the small museum dedicated to the battle before we were herded back on to the minivan. We continued on to Cienfuegos for the...

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Mar 25, 2013 - Vinales - Cuba's tobacco belt

Today we left Havana bound for two nights in Vinales, a picturesque rural village in the Pinar del Rio provence. It is four hours west of Havana and the farmers all grow tobacco. Here we saw our first sombrero wearing cowboys and farmers using oxen driven ploughs to till the rich red fields. We read that this part of Cuba has its own Yosemite, with limestone monoliths called mogotes in the national park. We did a three hour hike with a park guide that included a visit to a tobacco farm to see the process from growing the leaves to rolling...

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Feb 12, 2013 - Around Havana

February 9, 2013 Rick and I went off on our own today, We wandered down to the Malecon to walk along the seaside and look at the tall ship SeaCloud. We could not identify the flag it was flying , but Rick thinks it is from Malta. We explored Havana Vieja which has amazingly beautiful architecture, lots of it crumbling . And lots of it needing restoration. We also went to a beautifully restored building with a telescope in it that shows what is going on in the street below. We were the only English Speakers there and the guide gave the...

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21 Degrees North

Feb 12, 2013 - Next day in Havana

Sunday, February 10, 2013 Today we got a late start then got on a sightseeing bus. In theory you can hop on an off this bus but It wasn’t quite as easy as we expected, however it gave us an overview of Havana. We stopped for lunch at the hotel Copacabana then back on the bus to place that was having a rumba contest. It was a bit claustrophobic for me so then we walked back to the Malecon, a street along the sea. We decided to take an old American taxi back to the Plaza Vieja where we people watched and had another drink. Then we walked...

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21 Degrees North

Feb 9, 2013 - Havana

Up early 5 am. Lots of standing in line and waiting. Pay off -in Cuba this afternoon. Can’t believe we are really here! Started the afternoon with a celebratory mojito.Then walked around Havana Vieja for a while. We returned to our “casaparticulare”to rest, relax and enjoy a cervesa with our lobster dinner. The humidity hit hard arriving in Havana. The American cars from the 50’s and 60’s are incredible. Our Taxi driver pointed out the makes and models. He was very knowledgeable. Imaging a 1957 Bel Air turquoise/white cruising. It is a...

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21 Degrees North

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