Saturday, April 30, 2016

We celebrated Laurie's birthday yesterday morning after an hour in Eva's pool. I love this group of women. Smart and fun and funny. A great way to start the day. Happy Birthday, Laurie!
Laurie, Karen, Connie, Sue, me, Betty and Bonnie

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sad anniversary week. I lost my Dad a year ago, and my Lucy a year ago, and my husband five (!) years ago. To divorce. How unfortunate that he is the only one still walking this earth.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What a fabulous trip I had and I was sad to leave Cuba. Would have liked another week at least. Our last day was spent on the road going to Santa Clara to catch our charter flight back to Miami. Here are some images from the window of the bus. Bear in mind we were on a major highway in the country, just like I-95. Well, sort of . . .

One of the truck taxis I told you about.
There are people in there in the heat getting,
as Liban would say, "a Russian massage."

Maybe by this time next year, the ferry will be running from Key West and things will be a bit more open. I fear for Cuba with the U.S. getting a toe in the door. Things will change in major ways and not all for the best, I think.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

So, yesterday we visited La Coincidencia Farm and then headed to Cardenas and Casa Dupont.
The above picture is our Cuban guide, Liban, and Odylas, the lady who owns the farm. She and her husband and three sons and one grandchild live here. They live off the land and give the extra to the community. They are artists, sculptors, and make money from their art as well. When they bought this land, it was wasteland and it is amazing what they have done with it in 25 or so short years.
Grove of Mangoes. They are experimenting with keeping the trees short and some of the fruit can be up to 4kg. huge. Wish it was ripe!
They grow bamboo which they use for supports for the mangoes and some of the other crops. They get fish in the little river above.
They have a pet falcon which was brought to them with a broken wing some years back.
They also have a pet tree rat. Super cute rat. Eats Norfolk Pine.

This is one of the sons using a pottery wheel. The wheel is made of many different things, including a motor from a Russian washing machine! The Cuban people are nothing if not resourceful.
 The ladies room.
 Liban let us see his I.D. The picture doesn't do him justice. This badge (from his old place of work) is like our passport.
We stopped at the Dupont mansion for lunch. OMG so beautiful. Dupont built it for himself and his friends but when the new government started nationalizing some of these grand estates to share with the people, he abandoned it. It is now a hotel.
 I think that is a NC Wyeth over the fireplace but the signature was too faded to see.
 This is the view. Incredibly beautiful, right?
 The wine cellar.
 The bar is up 3 sets of very narrow stairs and sports a gorgeous view of the Caribbean Sea.
Vitamin R in it's many forms.
 We had lunch on the veranda by the sea. Such a sweet bunch of people I've been traveling with.
 After lunch, a rum tasting with 7 year old Havana Club and a cigar demonstration. Got me a Romeo y Julieta.
This is the life, baby!
And what a treat. Full moon to bid us adios on our final night. 
Danny, our American tour leader with yours truly.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Yesterday, we checked out of our beautiful hotel and traveled east to Varadaro and points along the way, including beautiful Matanzas. Our first stop was at the Jardin Botanica Nacional. The most amazing greenhouses and 600 hectares of incredible plantings. There is a botanical garden for every province in Cuba and the people we met are completely invested in environmental education.
blue agave
"hairy old man" from Africa, I think.
They call this one "The Russian"
for obvious reasons
 We stopped by the highest bridge in Cuba for a "comfort stop" and were served what tasted like pina coladas in pineapples and offered the ubiquitous bottle of rum if we wanted to add Vitamin R.
Lunch was in an old hotel in Matanzas.
Hot today and no AC here but nice breezes. We've been so lucky with the weather this trip.
Jose Marti. His name is never said alone but always with Our National Hero, Jose Marti. The woman breaking the chains respresents Cuba.
Our next stop was the Triolet Pharmacy, a pharmacy frozen in time. Can't remember but I think it closed it's doors 1961 and I don't know how but it has not changed one bit since the day it closed. All of the tinctures and medicines and jars and bottles and equipment and cash register and telephone are just as they were left. Amazing.
Next we went to a book bindery which, I have to say, was lost on me. They do every book by hand, only 200 copies of each one, are even in our Library of Congress. But it kind of left me cold . . .
Now, our next stop to visit these artists was another matter completely. So fascinating and disturbing and beautiful. Lolo is a famous artist (whom I never heard of) and has pieces around the world. We met him and the rest of the gang in this 500 year old space he inherited from family. Here are some of the works on offer, a story behind every one. Really loved this stop.
Located on this waterfront. Zoiks!
Each head has a different take on a common idea.
The artist's version of Atlas.
Not sure about this one with the women's shoes on his head.
One of our group asked about this one. Lolo's answer? Garbage.
There were also some more traditional artwork including porcelain, tiles, drawings, paintings, pottery, etc.
Such talent. I was in awe. 
We drove another 30 minutes or so to Varadero, means shipyard, and got to our hotel around 6pm. A swim in the pool, an unpleasant encounter in an elevator, a buffet dinner with the group and off to bed.