Tag Archives: cuba

Havana: imagination and reality

What Havana and Cuba, in general, transmit to the world, everbody must be tired of knowing: Rum, propaganda of Che and Fidel, Mojito, historic buildings, old cars, musicality, Daiquiri, Malecón <3, etc…

Combinando em Havana :)

Combining in Havana :)

Degustação de rum, um dos maiores produtos de exportação de Cuba, no museu do Rum, em Havana.

Rum tasting at the Rum museum in Havana.

O tradicional Mojito do La Bodeguita Del Medio (lugar que ficou conhecido pelo seu mais famoso frequentador: Hemminway)

The traditional Mojito of La Bodeguita Del Medio (place that was known by its most famous guest: Hemminway)

Preparação de Daiquiri, no famoso La Floridita, também devido ao cliente fiel Hemminway.

Preparation of Daiquiri, in the famous La Floridita.

Curiosa imagem no nosso caminho de todo dia entre o Centro de Habana e a Habana Vieja

Curious image took in our daily path between the Center of Habana and Old Havana

What I didn’t know is that behind this Cuba, let’s say traditional, there are many other sensations and flavors to discover. I had the pleasure of trying some of them and now I share with you.

From now on, I say that our biggest source of research were the Lonely Planet travel guide (I bought the English version, as I didn’t find it in Portuguese) and updated travel blog posts on internet.

In that guide we got almost all the tips on where we should eat and drink in Havana, mainly because it isn’t uncommon we have troubles with food and beverage during our trips. If you understand what I mean… 😉

We visited the very good La Guarida and we didn’t regret. The entrance to the building where this restaurant is located is quite unusual. Think of an abandoned building with walls needing a renovation. This is the entrance of La Guarida … until you go up the stairs and access the halls where tourists, especially, have a great meal and a special view from Havana. Reservations are highly recommended.

Entrada do La Guarida

Entrance of La Guarida

View of one of the salons of La Guarida

Lonely Planet guide also gave us the tip of visiting Fusterland, an eccentric neighborhood all adorned in tiles. According to its idealizer, José Fuster, a homage to the Spanish Gaudi. :)

Fusterland is a bit far from Habana Vieja and downtown Habana. We chose to get there by car and we made sure to agree about the price we would pay for the cab with the gentle driver, who took us and still waited for us to bring back to Havana Vieja. (Cabs and bicitáxi aren’t cheap if compared to other turistic places in the world)

We had a good time there, however it could have been even better in a sunny day. That day rained cats and dogs in Havana and we had to spend more than half a hour inside a gallery waiting for Saint Peter collaborates with our tour. 😉

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As good fans of street art that we are, we didn’t miss the opportunity to make registers of some graffiti and murals around Havana. It was a great surprise to see a “modern” art mixed with those historic buildings. Amazing!

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Arte de rua em Havana

Arte de rua em Havana

Cuba, I miss you already! I hope one day to meet you again and get surprised many other times. <3

When we made to Cuba

I write this post listening to “Buena Vista Social Club” and I really recommend that you allow yourself to get to know the Cuban music. “El Cuarto de Tula” is pure synergy. Amazing! Do not be surprised if you want to start immediately wiggling your hips and / or shoulders. Cuba is musicality, bodies in movement, instruments everywhere you look.

I felt very welcomed in the land of the Castro brothers. Firstly, when I got the visa at the Cuban embassy in Brasilia. I contacted them by phone and a woman informed me that I should, in the first place, pay a fee of approximately R$ 60.00 (sixty brazilian reais) and two days later I would go to the embassy with my passport and the copies of  flight and hotel/airbnb reservation. Ready! I went to the embassy and few minutes later I was leaving with my visa in hand. Easy easy! 

Embaixada de Cuba em Brasília

Cuban embassy in Brasília

When landing in Havana (my flight was operated by Copa Airlines – Brasilia / Panama / Havana), again more tranquility. I got surprised, because the last few times I passed to the passport control in a country by myself, I had to answer many questions. However, fortunately, this didn’t happen in Cuba.

Pronta para o embarque :)

Ready to board :)

Sobrevoando a Ilha de Cuba <3

Caribbean overview <3

It called my attention how the cuban women that work in the airport were dressed. Their uniform was a short skirt with a black and funny pantyhose. When you’re in Havana’s airport, pay attention to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture to show you here.

No aeroporto de Havana... (além das propagandas de governo, as de bebidas rum e cerveja foram as únicas que avistei)

At the Habana airport…rum and beer advertisement

While I was waiting for my boyfriend’s flight to land, I exchanged the euros I had brought for Cuban convertible pesos (the currency used by tourists in Cuba). A Cuban convertible peso is equivalent to the US dollar. However, bringing the US currency is not a good deal, because this transaction involves an extra fee of 10%.

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Paper notes of peso conversível

For some Brazilian tourists, Cuba can be considered an expensive travel destination. It is a fact that our currency isn’t competitive compared to US dollar or euro. In this case, we need to go there remembering the sentence: “who converts does not have fun”. Haha! I can guarantee that it is a worthy investiment!

Havana airport is a bit distant from the most touristy regions of the city, which are Habana Vieja (undoubtedly the most touristy and where you should stay if the goal is really to feel the “Cuban soul”), Centro Habana (where our airbnb apartment took place, next to the Malecón, and only a few minutes walk from Habana Vieja) and Vedado (more residential area). Then we arranged a transfer service with our host, who was waiting for us at the agreed time.

Vista do Malecón a partir do nosso apartamento alugado pela plataforma airbnb

View of the Malecon from our apartment

That would be just the first day of a week in the historic Cuba. <3

 

Live and let live

When you travel to a distant place (not only physically) from the reality of everyday life, the tendency is to happen an initial astonishment. In my case, this “shock” is usually accompanied by a greater improvement of the senses, and here I am not referring only to the “sixth sense” … I look more focused; the hearing gets more concentrated to the sounds or to the silence; the smell gets absolutely intensified … I live the present, as if I didn’t remember of the past or even about the expectations and anxieties of the future.

These sensory connections allow me to live the here and now, in a state of attention. I feel alive and complete, as I often forget to exercise when I am in my “natural habitat.” This is then, for me, one of the great benefits of moving toward new experiences.

I will never forget my first days in Jerusalem. I felt absolutely “lost” and this had nothing to do with not knowing where I was. No. I felt absorbed in a new reality. A reality in which religion utterly dictates people’s lives. I even felt a bit “unfaithful.” For a Christian Catholic woman who grow up her faith in the midst of a parish community, experiencing Jerusalem in the first two days, was at least a reason for a lot of meditation.

Pelas ruas de Jerusalém provando novos sabores

Through the streets of Jerusalem tasting new flavours.

I also hope to never forget the surprise I had when I realized that, yes, it is possible to live in the midst of rivers in the Amazon. The boat shuttle to come and go everywhere. The trade with scarce items kept on “palafitas” (houses above the water). Children who can’t go to school in the heavy flood season. The life that is maintained through the nutrients offered by the forest itself and rivers. The fact that, in the XXI century, a family doesn’t have television at home and only know the outside world through the news heard on a radio stack. This was all shocking to see with my own eyes.

Água que não acaba mais (a época das chuvas ainda não tinha nem começado)

Water everywhere (the rainy season hadn’t yet started) – market in the background.

Goiaba colhida no quintal da casa de caboclos

Guava harvested in the backyard of the caboclos house

The stay in Jordan was short but lasting enough to realize the lack of presence of women in day-to-day tourist activities, such as the maintenance of a Bedouin camp where we spent the night in Petra. The men served the meals; they were also the responsible for entertaining the tourists with their singing and clapping of synchronized palms. I didn’t see any woman in the place. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that in Jordan 90% of the population is Muslim, according to Wikipedia, but seeing a reality so different from the one I live in my country was a true expansion of consciousness.

Campo beduíno em Petra (essas barraquinhas brancas são os quartos).

Bedouin camp in Petra (these tents are the bedrooms, dining room and collective restrooms).

Confraternizando em Petra

Confraternizing in Petra

Last but not least, I remember Cuba. Anyone who goes to Havana and is not impressed, definitely didn’t experience the reality of the place. In Havana, there is almost no advertising. The only ones that exist make reference to the socialism and the figures of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. I didn’t even see the picture of the brother Raul. I don’t believe that the “regime” still works in its entirety, but by official propaganda, it is in full execution. I don’t think I have ever seen a people so similar to the Brazilians as the Cuban. And I’m not just talking about the physical characteristics … they’re rhythmic, they love to dance, and they share an admirable positivity. I wish I had taken candies to distribute to the children. These items are absolutely rare there.

Na Fusterlândia (ainda escreverei um post contando sobre esse lugar em Havana)

In Fusterland

Dentro de uma farmácia em Havana (repare na foto de Che no mural)

Photo taken inside a drugstore in Havana while a guy treated my newly injured foot (note Che’s picture and message about the Revolution on the mural)

Essa foto poderia ter sido tirada em Salvador ou em São Luís do Maranhão não fosse pelas crianças jogando basebol.

This photo could have been taken in Salvador or in São Luís, Maranhão State, apart for the sport (baseball) chosen…