Cuba 2002 - Paradise Lost or a Lost Paradise?? Prologue This report details my two trips that I had to Cuba in 2002. As this was my 4th and 5th trip in the past 3 years I do consider myself somewhat knowledgeable in the country and the people, however, as you read further on, you will see that the most knowledgeable can get taken very easily. I am posting this report on two sites so some readers may not recognise “nom-de-gerres” associated with the other site. At the time of this writing (December 2002) the situation within Cuba to me seems to be evolving to a “pre-crackdown” scenario. During my first trip (March 2002) I began to observe a problem with casa owners tightening the “rules”, however, as I’m a person who doesn’t enjoy the company of two or three different ladies in my casa every day so this “tightening” did not affect me.
However, my second trip (September 2002) I noticed a sense of “looking behind one’s back” from a ladies standpoint which as it is turning out was the start of a crackdown which is enveloping Cuba right now. As I visited some cities/towns on both trips I’ll combine my findings into one and will illustrate these “escalations” in each place. My itinerary for both trips included visits to Ciego de Avila, Las Tunas, Holguin and La Habana. As I have already covered Las Tunas and Holguin in my past trip reports, I will concentrate on Ciego de Avila for this one. All pictures accompanying this report was shot on a Canon S30 which suited my tastes perfectly since it had a “dummy-proof” option when I can point and click. Unfortunately, due to an extreme amount of stupidity on my part, my camera was stolen in Habana on my second trip. I’d rather not get into details since it’s a still a sore open wound, but a word of warning....NEVER go the Casa La Musica in Miramar, get thoroughly pissed, take home a visitor and keep valuable stuff exposed lying around in your room, go to the washroom for 10 seconds and expect things to be there a day later **sigh**.
Some pictures of friends have been altered to keep their anonymity, so if you don’t like it then stop reading this report now. Ciego de Avila As I was flying to Cuba from Canada, Ciego de Avila provided the best entry point for me since it is situated almost in the middle of the island. Ciego de Avila (population approximately 90,000) is about 60 miles south of the touristy Cayo Coco. The airport is in the middle of nowhere and is about a $15-$18 (all dollar amounts in US dollars) cab ride into town. Checking through customs was a breeze (I put Hotel Ciego de Avila as my residence on my tourist card), and on my first trip a friend from WSA, Cerveza, was waiting for me with his lovely novia (now his wife whom I’ll refer to a “Y”) and beer in hand. As this was my first trip to Ciego, knowing both Cerveza and his Y allowed me to gain knowledge of the town very quickly. Cerveza had arranged a casa for me for my stay which as it turned out a very nice private entrance casa ($20 a night) which was only a 5 minute walk from the main park. In true “mongering” fashion, Cerveza suggested that we visit the disco at the Ciego de Avila Hotel (address - Carretera Ceballo, two kilometres northwest of downtown, telephone - 28040 ) for their Sunday afternoon “matinee” even before I had time to check into my casa. Hotel Ciego de Avila Within 45 minutes of touching down at the airport I was sipping on my first Crystal at the hotel bar enjoying the fine virtues of chica’s culo’s. It took me exactly three milliseconds to commence drooling. This hotel, I believe, caters to both Cuban and non-Cuban guests. It has a nice outdoor pool where non-guests can enjoy the sun, the rum and the sights. The hotel’s pool is a perfect place to take a lady friend for an afternoon of sun worshipping (for her) and plenty of eye candy worshipping (for you).
There is a $5.00 (I think...no more than that) admission charge for non-guests to access its facilities (payable at the front bar). A note of caution though, in order to use the facilities one must produce their passport or their carnet. The bar itself, it situated within the complex. This was the first time I have experienced a Sunday afternoon “matinee” in a disco in Cuba and I was duly impressed. These matinee’s (between 4 and 7 in the afternoon) allow Cuban’s to enter the premises for free although the charge for non-Cubans remain the same. Drinks were cheap and the chica’s were plentiful with lots of 7-9's in attendance. After a few hours of decadence we decided to go to this outdoor restaurant called “La Viccaria” (not sure of the correct spelling) which is situated directly across from the bus terminal. dinner at La Vicarria After a hearty meal it was time to retire back to the casa and enjoy the virtues of a cuban lady pictured above (blonde in the red and no that ain’t me sitting beside her). The casa itself was real nice. I really enjoyed how it was set up. You enter through a padlocked (at nite) gate into a small courtyard. My apartment was situated on one side and two other apartments were situated opposite where the casa owner and her friend lived. Below are some pic’s of the casa: a view from the courtyard a view of the sitting room with kitchenette bedroom sitting room During my first trip I had no problems entertaining guests in my room, however, during the second trip I noticed an increased hesitation amongst my guests for a long term stay overnight. This was perhaps due to my visiting during the initial stages of a crackdown in Ciego. I think it is important to note that when a crackdown occurs in any town in Cuba, it generally isn’t enforced by the local polizia but another segment of El Jefe’s security force that roams the different locales thought the country. This security force are associated with the “Immigration” section of the government and are visible in their uniforms and sometimes invisible in their plain clothes. Usually, people (ie. chica’s) know when they are around and their nervousness increases a hundred times. Most days were spent lounging around in the main park (Parque Marti - on the north side of Independencia and the west side of Marcial Gomez).
It has a statue
of Senor Marti at its center, plus Victorian styled lampposts and seating
beneath shade trees Parque Marti This park is very busy during the day which
allowed me to partake in my favourite hobby of all fellow sheep-herders
in Cuba, culo watching. In the evening, this park transforms itself magnetically
into a gathering place for the locals. My favourite mode of transportation
in Ciego is by bicyclette taxi. As I am Canadian I was particularly attracted
to this one: I am Canadian Ehhhh There were two nightclubs of note that
I frequented. First was La Citma located in the Hotel Santiago-Havana, Ichicho
Valdes (or Carretera Central) y Honorario del Castillo. There have been
reports on some boards that this disco is a “couples-only” disco and even
a “guests of the hotel only” disco. During both trips I was allowed to enter,
however, this may not be the case now. The disco is situated on the top
floor of the hotel and one must pay an admission charge of $5.00 to take
the elevator upstairs. It is a good disco that is generally packed with
locals, sorta of a mini version of the Disco Enseuna in Las Tunas. Although
there are some hard core chica’s here, I found it saturated with non-pro’s.
My definition of a “non-pro” may differ from others, but these ladies all
have day time jobs and are at the disco just to have fun. The second nightclub
(whose name escapes me but its situated on the corner of Honorato del Castillo
and Bembeta - two blocks from Parque Marti) was surprisingly enough a karoke
bar. It is small and a “couples-only” bar. You ain’t gonna pick anyone up
here, however, it was a lot of fun and a superb place to take a date. One
day I ventured outside of Ciego to a “river oasis” where the locals go and
swim. I’m terrible with names and locations but it is situated about 30-35
kms away from Ciego on the highway to Habana. As you can see from the pictures
below, this place was quite striking and there were a lot of Cuban families
enjoying its splendors. a view of the river a view of the river.
here to see the photos
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