Lots of good nature at the National Park near Trinidad:

Less “wild” life at lunch:

An indian mansion turned into a restaurant:

A statue of one of the originators of cuban music, Benny More’:

Cienfuegos, a very Europe-like modern city (founded my French from New Orleans). We stayed
at a B&B right on this square:

Apparently this is the town that young Canadian lads took vacations to, to get into trouble,
until there was a crackdown.

Walking to dinner. It was hot and sweaty again:

Sunset on the water across from the restaurant:

Far too often, our mojitos were gone:

But fortunately we had more cash!

And we were happy for another few minutes:

Our very nice B&B hosts. We gave a gift to each family we stayed with and they seemed happy…

Sitting in front of “our place” after dinner.


This was a little scary. To dry their harvested rice, they spread it out on one lane
of the road, tend it, and collect it at night after its dried. In the mean time,
traffic tries to avoid it, but sometimes can’t, so you have cars driving on it and animals
walking (and doing their thing) on it! Made us think twice about eating rice there…

The Bay of Pigs invasion museum:

The documentary movie room. This was an original propaganda film about the invasion and the Cuban response:

Off to snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs. Those are live, dead and smelly land crabs on the road:

Across the road there was a fresh + salt lagoon, very deep, to explore too:

Don’t taunt the crabs:

Interesting mean, including turtle and goat:

On to the crocodile park. They had these cute “tree rats”, plus caymans to play with.

Don’t forget to tip.

They had 3 kinds of beer – “light”, “medium” and “dark”.
I got the dark Bucanero when I could.

Nice inner courtyard at our B&B at Matanzas (we stayed next door on the way out of Havana,
now there on the way back to Havana).

Even street dogs like Owen:

We walked 1.5 miles to the best locals place in town, only to find it was closed.
Back 1.6 miles to the place near our B&B :-(.

Local park had a falconer with a sparrow hawk. More fun, don’t forget to tip.

It seemed to like my watch:

Lots of great flowering plants throughout the trip:

Nice church, converted to a music hall, at a high point in the city:

Most of us did a cave tour, but it wasn’t really worth the time / effort:

Some of us took a motor boat trip to a park up the river.
Oddly enough they put us in the boat without a guide and let us drive ourselves.

Here is that local’s place, 12 CUCs for lunch for 6 of us:

Some of us felt rich at the end:

A tiring trip:

The money changing line at the airport:


We “heart” Cuba.

Here are lots of random notes:

2 days in Havana (“abana”)

Very little hassling, only one beggar

Quite a few tourist shops, many selling the same things

Mostly friendly people. Even when they try to get you to buy something, if you say “no” their attitude seems to be “no problem”

Many people have 2 jobs (one official, one not?)

Private houses turned into B&Bs are very nice (not just normal houses)

Cars have no catalytic converters so lots of exhaust

Sometimes even on a highway you need to slow way down behind a horse drawn carriage and then pass around it.  Trucks converted to “busses” is a cheap way for the locals to travel.

Oddly the Cubans don’t seem jealous of us rich US types

Seem proud of their country (especially the tour guide Luis) but tour guides are trained and licensed so maybe you have to be.

Very proud of Che’, because he’s a martyr. After the Cuban revolution he had a comfortable life, head of a bank or all banking, but his calling was revolution so he went to the Congo first and then Bolivia but possibly neither was ripe for revolt.  He was betrayed in Bolivia and apparently hunted down by CIA supported troops.

Claim Fidel was targeted more than 600 times for assassination.

FIdel didn’t want any museums or monuments

Havana the most corrupt city in the world under the president before the Fidel revolution.  Lots of people poor, abused, tortured according to their history.

(Nothing about bad behavior once Fidel was in power)

They have a multi year drought in place which is hurting forest regrowth, animals

1% unemployment but you can make more as a taxi driver (as ours did) than he can via his training as a mechanical engineer so you’d think that would slow down Cuban growth, economic expansion.

Economy based on sugar exports (down to maybe 20% of it’s peak?) and tourism

Don’t seem to have animosity toward the US.  More like “why can’t we all get along”

Bacardi had HQ in Cuba, so helped fund attempted invasion.

Said CIA tried to keep Cubans from getting educated (hangings of students etc) – to keep them ignorant and easier to control.

Said the south US didn’t want Cuba as part of the US so it wouldn’t need to compete with their products (tariffs etc instead)

Said U.S. had attempted to assassinate Fidel ~ 600 times.

Seemingly lots of folks sitting around during the day on their porches etc

Luis went on vacation to grand cayman but GC in charge of making sure they didn’t then go to some other place than returning to Cuba.

Luis’ brother emigrated to the US. He first tried to escape to the US, was caught, jailed, then lots of paperwork and waiting later, got to go legally.

Taxi was stopped, had his many I’d-sized documents checked

Cubans can now sell their houses for example to each other

Also exporting professionals for free but countries pay Cuba apparently.

Lots of turkey vultures

Lots of great music (local and other)

Lots of farmland, pasture, cattle, horses, goats.

Everyone gets ration coupons, medical, housing

Lots of great fruit

Inefficient travel for locals. Lots of waiting.

Car ownership way Beyond many

Great fish during snorkeling but not much coral wise.  Parrot fish, wrasse, convict tangs, very friendly, fed

Lost of dead and live land crabs.  Much like grand cayman

Water was warm but not too warm, very salty, buoyant but choppy so a little though. But fish right up at the land edge so easy, very nice.  Smelled of dead crab.

Hints from friends from southern CA – say this is your 3rd time in Cuba so folks treat you like a vet, not a noob.

Saco and friends said more $ than they thought.  Lots on taxis as they were making their own trip, and  partying  until 4 am etc probably didn’t help.

They also went west to the tobacco area and was very interesting, bought some cigars at the Fincas.  3 hours west of Havana apparently.

Harranged by some local, drunk.  B&b host gave us a look to ignore so I did

Bought driver and guide lunch once – not clear they could  get reasonable food in a tourist area.

Mosquitoes in some areas including croc farm. Can’t see or hear them.   Also flies buzzing around meals that were usually at open air restaurants. Annoying but not a problem.

Tour guide can save money- ready menu at tourist restaurant, croc farm said 10 CUCs but charged us 5, etc