Hasta Luego Boquete

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Originally posted on mebeinpanama:
We have beautiful Boquete in the rearview. So why snake pictures? No particular reason, except it seemed odd that we were greeted by the fellow on top, a lovely coral snake on one of our first…

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Havana, Hanging Out on Balconies

I spent some time on the balcony one late afternoon just watching the neighbors. These photos were probably taken in the space of 5-10 minutes, and as you can see a lot of living is done outdoors even if there is only a small balcony available.

About the blue trash bins in one of the photos, they are found on every street and sometimes later in the day they are overflowing. We were told that trash trucks come around every night. And, the lady with the water on her balcony – no one drinks the tap water in Cuba. Our hostess boiled the water and then put it through a filter in a big jug on the counter. Any time we or anyone else needed water we would go there.

I also mentioned the extra living spaces on roofs. Our host pointed a number of places that had been built on roofs by people who needed living space, and it seemed that almost every roof had these places. He also said it’s common to build an extra floor in apartments that have very high ceilings. Living space can be very expensive for people on limited incomes so they have learned to be creative and use every resource they have.

I liked hanging out on the balcony, enjoying the warm breezes and sounds of the city. It reminded me a bit of New York City in my distant past, when spring would finally come and you could open your windows, and then the sounds of the city would flood in and you would feel so much a part of the energy of the city.

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Tuesday, Day 5 in Havana

Today we walked north to the water, thinking we hadn’t seen that area but it turned out to be where we got off the bus and walked towards old Havana. But, there were still quite a few things we hadn’t seen in this area and more things to photograph.

This is still the historical area full of tourists so of course there were dozens of fancy old cars, mostly convertibles, and we were approached countless times for taxis, rides, tours, cigars, anything anyone thought they could sell us but this led to a few pleasant conversations as well.

We stopped into a few art galleries, but for me the street art is the most interesting.

Somehow we missed Plaza Vieja before. This dates from the mid 1500’s, and has gone through a number of name changes and uses.

We saw many buildings under renovation but for me, the old untouched buildings are almost more interesting with their remnants of paint and trees growing on the top floors. If they could talk, what stories would they have to tell?

We had been doing hours of walking and our legs were starting to feel the strain, so we returned to our place in the late afternoon and stayed in for the rest of the evening, napping, sorting photos, and relaxing. The next day, our last, we would visit some of regular Havana instead of the touristy historic areas.

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Cuba Photos #2

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Originally posted on FindingMySelfinPanama:
Here are more photos from our trip to Cuba. I have cropped many for emphasis, some photos were too “busy” so I gave them more focus. I photograph what catches my fancy and modify the result…

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Impressions of Cuba, Some photos

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on FindingMySelfinPanama:
We visited Cuba February 17-23, 2017. Loved it and the people. Here I’ve assembled some of my favorite shots. Many are of street art which I found interesting and inspiring. Click on the photos to enlarge…

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Havana’s Chinatown

We relaxed over breakfast and didn’t hurry out this morning. Our hostess put on a Mel Gibson film after breakfast. I think I know better than to watch any more Mel Gibson films. Blech. We aren’t here to watch movies anyway.

Out destination today was Chinatown and a highly recommended restaurant. We set off in that direction, took a detour to a parallel street and got somewhat lost, but in time got ourselves straightened out thanks to some saved maps in my tablet that I brought just in case.

Chinatown is not really a Chinatown like we would expect. I saw one person that looked like she could be Chinese. I saw one sign and a our destination restaurant, and that was about it. The rest of the area was very Cuban, but not as prosperous or upscale as the areas we had seen before. I saw some furniture making businesses, some shops, lots of flowers for sale on the street, but otherwise mostly very small apartments and buildings in somewhat poor condition.

We walked around exploring a new park and some new areas until we were hungry enough for lunch, which took a while after our typical hearty breakfast served by our hostess.

Eventually we decided to make our way back to the Flor de Loto (Flower of the Lotus), our restaurant destination.

Entering the restaurant was like entering a different world of linen tablecloths, attentive waiters, and excellent food. For less than $20 we had two large dinners and three beers, enough for Joel to bring home a lot and to keep me full for the rest of the day. That a great thing about staying with a family. They know the area and can recommend the best places.

Our legs were feeling the effects of daily walking so after our late lunch, we slowly ambled home and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Out host was also home, having cut his hand at the base of the thumb at work. He said he had to go to three different clinics/hospitals to find someone who could take care of him. The first said the cut was too deep and bleeding too much. The second was afraid he had cut the tendon and sent him to a specialist. The specialist determined that the tendon wasn’t cut and stitched him up. It has been very interesting listening to him talk about work, health care, the economy, business, etc etc in this very different country though of course it’s still just people trying to live well and take care of their families.

PS his hand was doing well when I left, healing with no signs of infection and minimal pain.

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Havana at Night

We went to the Paseo de Marti one evening, the beautiful boulevard a block away from where we were staying. We walked up to the Parque Central and enjoyed the buildings all lit up, the balmy evening air, and all the people out enjoying themselves.

I only brought a cheap little Canon (my decent one is repaired and waiting for me in the US). It did OK on these photos though.

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Havana Cuba, Sunday, Day 3

We took a tour bus today. There is a hop on, hop off bus for $10 so we got on in the Parque Central not far from where we are staying. Here’s a few photos from the boulevard on our way to the park. It was Sunday and there were a lot of vendors on the boulevard.

We drove down the Malicon and through the city to the Plaza of the Revolution. We could see plenty from the bus so we didn’t get out.

We did get out at the cemetery though. It was a huge cemetery! They wanted $7 per person  so we decided not to go in. We could see quite a bit from the entrance and through the fence and we were fine with that.

The next bus that came along was full so we had to wait for another. We got in but there were no window seats, so not as good for looking out and taking pictures. It took us through some beautiful neighborhoods and an area that we were told had many embassies and offices, and then along the waterfront where there were some big hotels including the Copacabana (who would have thought we would ever see that!)

I wanted to go around again but we were getting hungry, so we got off and looked for a restaurant in Old Havana (check the videos in the previous post for some fun music and dancing). We also did some shopping for gifts, and then got back on the bus.

When we got back on the bus there was hardly anyone riding. We had our choice of seats and windows so we could see everything really well.

Back at the Plaza de la Revolucion again.

Then, driving back through the city.

We got off at the park again, and set off down the boulevard towards home. We came across some people dancing the tango and others watching, sometimes singing along with the music.

We were tired when we got back so we relaxed for a while, and then went back out later in the evening to visit the boulevard again.

It is still a bit strange waking up without internet. The family gathers every night to check email and do what they need to do. It seems to be enough to get my email, write a couple short responses, and make an entry on Facebook but not much more. It doesn’t take long for the connection to break down entirely and then you are finished. We forget how we managed in the time before Internet, when we couldn’t just contact anyone instantly or look up information on any subject. Thankfully Cuban Spanish doesn’t seem that different so I’m able to talk easily with our hostess and ask her lots of questions, and she is always happy to answer.

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Some Cuba Videos

It seems like everywhere you go there is music. Even small restaurants often have a band, and there is more music in the street.

Here are some musicians we passed as we walked around.

Here’s another three minutes of music, including a fun street event with dancers on stilts.

Here is a really fun group in the restaurant where we had lunch one day. There were also a great pair of dancers. Check it out! I love the woman outside the door who couldn’t stand still when she heard the music. The dancers get going more and more as the video goes on so watch this one to the end.

I also loved hanging out on our balcony and watching the activity below in the street. If you want to spend five minutes on the balcony with me, watch this video.

That’s it for videos. Now I have more pictures to sort from Sunday, then Monday, Tuesday…. 😀  This is fun for me. It’s like reliving our Cuba time all over again.

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Cuba Day 2, Old Havana

It just took me less time to upload 109 photos than it did to upload 3 in Cuba. The internet there…well… You don’t realize how much you use it until you don’t have it!

So, you have been warned. This post contains 109 photos (and this is after I tossed at least 2/3 of them out!) 😀

The second day we walked in the old, historic part of Havana. This place is a dream for a photographer – endless buildings, people, scenes, and interesting things. I need to research many of these places. There were churches, squares, monuments, and other buildings that were obviously old and full of history. I’m glad I took photos of some signs to help me identify things.

Buildings seemed in many states of repair, some being well cared for or restored, and others showing the passage of time. The old section is obviously a tourist attraction and there were people everywhere speaking many languages. Many tourists were in groups with guides, and there were many many buses. Our hostess said the buses meet the cruise ships to take people on tours of the city, and others told us bus tours are also arranged by hotels for their guests.

Our hostess is really spoiling us! She fed us such a big breakfast that we had to save a lot of it for later. When we returned the bed was made and the room cleaned up. Even the toilet paper was folded into a little point at the end like a hotel service, and our towels had been replaced with clean ones. Speaking of toilet paper, she doesn’t know where so many visitors get the idea that there is a shortage of things in Havana. She says they have paper, soap, everything they need available in stores and she doesn’t know why people keep bringing these things. Maybe it’s different in other areas but in Havana, people are able to get what they need.

We had a great day walking in the old, historic part of Havana and we saw so much that our heads were swimming by the time we got back.

After a day of walking, we just relaxed for the evening. We got on line for a short while to check email, etc. But it wasn’t long before the slow internet stopped working entirely, probably because there were too many people using it on a Saturday night. Internet is a luxury in Cuba. You have to have all the equipment, and then you have to pay by the minute for something that is painfully slow if it works at all. It feels strange not to have our constant internet connection, but it’s not so bad to take a break. I’ve been able to post to Facebook so family knows we are fine and everything else can wait.

So, that’s what I wrote that night about our day. Here are all the photos!

Whew!! That was a crazy lot of photos!

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