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Marabu Bastard

This bastard bush is called marabu. Its the Cuban equivalent of thistles or gorse. It grows like buggery and is a bugger to kill apparently. I have read much about it being a bane for Cuban farmers It must be repeatedly cut back until the plant exhausts itself or must be sprayed with weedkiller. Much of the able land in Cuba is infested with Marabu. The lack of access to weedkiller for many Cuban farmers makes disposing of it a long drawn out chore.  Notice the sharp little thorns on the bastard.P1050540 P1050545 P1050546


Guarapo in Vinales

Guarapo (pronounced waaa-ra-po as in Taupo) is raw sugar cane juice straight from the plant. A yarpie companero called it ‘Cuban redbull’. Similar(ish). A little sweet and a little muddy tasting perhaps. The sugar cane gets cut, softened and juiced.P1050548 P1050549 P1050551 P1050552 P1050553 P1050554 P1050555

Tobacco in Vinales

It was the wrong time of year to see tobacco being harvested or treated. What I got was the start of tobacco planting. Some pictures of planting and the drying houses used when the tobacco is harvested.P1050556 P1050557 P1050558 P1050559 P1050562 P1050563 P1050564 P1050565 P1050566 P1050567 P1050568

Vinales and Vinales valley

P1050500 P1050502Vinales is a sleepy little town set within a lovely quiet valley about 2 hours drive west of Havana. The sort of town where chickens spend the day going from garden to garden pecking for food, pigs wander out of sections to greet you as you walk along the street and dogs spend the day sleeping. It’s a bit like the Coromandel of Cuba.

It is a world renown tobacco growing area, hence one reason for me visiting.P1050532P1050530 P1050529 P1050528 P1050525 P1050524 P1050523 P1050522 P1050521 P1050520 P1050518 P1050516 P1050513 P1050512 P1050511 P1050510

Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron)

This is the venue of the 1961 attempted invasion by Cuban exiles following the 1959 revolution. The invasion was facilitated and resourced by the US but quickly turned into debacle. The area chosen for the invasion, Bay of Pigs, was apparently not the best place a landing force could have chosen. The area was swampy, there were few roads and little support amongst the local population for the invaders. The invasion forces were quickly routed and the US embarrassed when their involvement was made public. The group I visited the Bay with included a number of Americans. Their US ‘invasion’ of the Bay of Pigs was a whole lot friendlier.


Cuba – Love Hate Relationship

From time to time people have asked me why 3 trips to Cuba. A few move on to the question, would you live there?

I have attempted to answer the first question through this blog. What is the fascination that made me want to go back. I always treat the second question as theoretical rather than actual. For a start I love where I live, my city and country. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d really want to live. Moreover, I’d have as much change of being accepted for residency in Cuba as Kim Dotcom in Hollywood. Added to that, Lynley would never follow me if I ever did choose to emigrate. So, three reasons at least why I never treat the question as serious.

The following brief story may also provide an answer to the questions about repeated visits or living in Cuba.

Jose dies and reaches the pearly gates. St Peter admits him to heaven. The environment is perfect, year round temperate climate, warm clear water for swimming, amble and delicious food, peace and quiet at night for sleeping on fluffy white clouds, people happy and smiling all the day round. However, after a period of time Jose starts to get bored. he makes enquiries with St Peter about the possibility of a holiday. The only other destination open for him, he is told, is hell. After a period of contemplation, Jose decides to take a 2 week holiday.

He duly stands in a long line to board his flight, gets confused about purchasing a tousit visa, shuts down the check in booth for many minutes as he purchases his visa and is finally on his way. Jose arrives at the gates of hell, he walks into a small booth where his passport is examined for what seems like an age, and is admitted in due course. All around him he sees wonderous sights. To one side he hears pitch perfect salsa and son music, people dancing and having a wonderful time. The best looking men and women are drinking the finest rum and laughing. To the other side he sees people drinking cocktails and wonderful coffee and smoking the finest cigars ever assembled. For 2 weeks Jose dances to the music, parties with the young ladies, drinks rum and smokes cigars to his hearts content.

Jose then returns to Heaven. After a short period of time he becomes restless, remembering the great time he had on his holiday. He talks once again to St Peter who inform Jose that yes, it is possible to emigrate to hell for the rest of eternity. Jose spends some time compiling all the documents and paying money to appropriate authorities and persons. Eventually he is on his way to his new home.

Jose arrives back at hell and is ushered in. Around him he feels hot fires, acrid smoke and the wailing and moaning of the damned. ‘What happened to the wonderful party place I visited for my holiday’ Jose cries out. A voice replies, ‘Jose, surely you realise the difference between a tourist visa and permanent residency!!’.

Cuba Through Wire

Some crumbling buildings in Centro Habana photographed through a wire fence. Nothing spectacular, just some interesting framing.

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