A Travellerspoint blog

January 2016



sunny 26 °C

After a morning trek around a local neighbourhood and an African-Cuban concert with music and dance, I am back in my chair in the living room of the casa. Not so far removed from home given there is a teenage boy playing a video game right across from me.

First,a little about my group. We have Sally from Boston, a 70 year old social worker full of all the energy and enthusiasm for travel that I can only hope to have at her age. Also from the USA, is cat lover, Sandy, who is putting together a “cats of the world” book and Lexi, from New York, New York. Neil, our fluent Spanish speaking and very patient photographer/finance guy, who takes great time chatting to locals making me drool with envy. And our last minute addition is Jeff from Australia who quit his job and booked last Thursday (true Aussie style). We are all avid travellers, who love people, life and street photography. A wonderful group.

The afternoon was left to relax, review images before heading out for some more music at 5. Here are some shots from our morning. Ok... a lot of shots.


This little boy was delighted to get a hot wheels car from Sandy.


I hate seeing people line up for bread. Likely using ration cards


I have to say I enjoyed the evening immensely! We went to a little bar just a couple blocks away for an incredible couple of hours of music, dance and mojitos. The room was small and got more crowded as time went on. The genre was very unusual, performed by the African –Cubans, but I can honestly say, I felt ever beat resonate through my bones. The dance was sensual. Each dance, whether by performers or the locals who regularly jumped in, was a game. I had to ask why the woman kept grabbing and putting their hands over their vaginas. I am told the whole dance is based on a man trying to grab her there and her protecting herself. The energy was incredible. I loved it! And man can they dance. There were woman in their 70s moving their hips like 20 year olds.


From there is back to the casa for a yummy meal of braised pork and beans which I chewed on my right side having cracked a tooth and knocked out a filling earlier today. My damn teeth. Blaming this one on a guava seed. I think this is now the third holiday that this has happened on. No pain though.

Any way, I am off to the park in the dark in hopes of posting this. It has been a wonderful first day.

Oh, yes, about the things you find in your underwear. So I duck into a local bar for a pee with both my camera bag and camera dangling from my neck. Both are swinging as I am squatting. But, I manage. When I haul up my panties, I realise that my lens hood has fallen into my panties. This is not the first time some odd object has fallen into my panties but the first piece of camera equipment. Just in keeping with the holiday theme.

Posted by curlygirl 18:59 Archived in Cuba Comments (5)



sunny 25 °C

Having just finished a huge breakfast, I am sitting in the living room of the casa that will be my home for the next week, feeling a little hungover from the travel and a little guilty about my son who is buried in snow back home. But just a little. The greater sentiment is that of the feeling that you have all learned to be my “travel joy”. Even more so, perhaps, because getting here was a bit of a crap shoot.

This has been a decent winter back home. We have had very little snow which is great in all aspects except I wouldn’t have minded having enough to ski. But wouldn’t you know it. The day I am due to travel for my winter getaway, a huge blizzard was about to strike. In a scramble, I packed my bags and planned to get on the phone first thing in the morning to change my flights and go a day early. For those that don’t know, when a travel advisory is posted, Air Canada will change your flights free of charge. Unless, there is a complication, sigh. In this case, Air Canada, couldn’t touch my file, because the Toronto – Havana leg is Air Canada Vacations, an affiliated but different company. So, I called them, and they couldn’t do anything because, I used my credit card points to book so I need to call the agent there. She, says she has to call Air Canada vacations and that will “take hours”. Thankfully, I have good friends at Air Canada who somehow, with some work, changed my flights as far as Toronto to at least get me off the rock.

So yesterday morning, I beat the weather and headed to Toronto with plans to either spend the night there or try and get on an earlier flight. I was very pleased with my plan because the storm was more than looming. It was coming in fast and flights were already being cancelled later in the day. I could hardly believe it when the plan was foiled and my plane had a mechanical issue and they announced a 30 minute delay and later another hour. Fortunately, I got out in time to just make the connection in St. John’s and I was on the last flight leaving St. John’s for the day. I was also fortunate enough to be able to change my flight in Toronto and come on to Havana.

I arrived around 10 pm, and quickly navigated through customs and then waited patiently for my bag (which thankfully arrived this time). The wait is long because they x-ray every single bag coming in to the country. I met and chatted to lots of fellow travelers to help kill the time. From there, it was the money exchange. Credit cards are not accepted here, so I had to change up some Canadian cash. Then I grabbed a taxi to my casa in old Havana (The ride was about $25 cuc or $25 usd ). Thankfully my instructor Dan was waiting for me outside because the city is very dark at night and the only indication that this was any sort of accommodation was a wee sign “rooms for rent”.

I learned of the casa experience when I booked the trip. I am here for a 1 week photography workshop in the streets of Havana and am hoping for an authentic experience. So far it is shaping up to be. When you stay in a casa you are essentially living with a family. When I arrived, Orlando and Niurka, along with friends and family were sitting at the kitchen table drinking beer and laughing. I could have been in any Newfoundland kitchen. Of course, the thing to do, was to pull up a chair and join them for a beer. Although I couldn’t understand a word, it was great fun and I chatted to my instructor, Dan who hails from Halifax. My room is simple but adequate in a charming sort of way. I love the tall ceilings. I was so tired, that I pretty much collapsed into bed anyway, and despite the roars of laughter just outside my door coming from the kitchen, I drifted off to sleep. I had a solid three hours before the cursed roosters started relentless telling me it was time to get up. I dug through my bags only to discovered I had no earplugs. These are a staple item in all my travel bags. Ingenuity kicked in at 4 am, and I stuffed my ears with toilet paper and went back to sleep.

My morning started with a cold shower. Apparently, there was not enough pressure to keep the gas on to the tank. It was refreshing and almost forgotten now. Orlando said he was very sorry but he gives much “warm” love from his heart. So that helps. At 9:00 am, I joined two of my group mates, Neil and Sally, from New York and Boston respectively and enjoyed an amazing breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs and of course, delicious coffee con leche. Dan tells me toilets are scarce so I had to discipline myself and have just two cups. We spent the day just wandering around people watching while we waiting for the others to arrive. The official start of the course is tomorrow.

So I am going to attempt to find internet and post this today however posts will not be daily since there is no internet and I have to walk to find a paid hotspot.

Just know all is well, the group is lovely and the weather is way better here than home.

The casa and some shots from the day. Oh..my quest for wifi has brought me to a park where people just gather outside and someone spies you and says, "card lady". You say, "yes". He whistled and a guy shows up with a $3 card. You can log in for one hour. All good.


Just managed to get these off my phone.



Posted by curlygirl 14:37 Archived in Cuba Comments (3)

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