kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Woke up in Baracoa on March 16 to a lovely breakfast made by our hosts.
It was even better than the ones we'd been getting at the hotel - more selections! (Not much more but hey, they had hot chocolate!).

Trying to get through this so quick summary of parts.
Back to the city center where we got a lecture on the local history from the local historian. He was pretty awesome. He knew a lot about the area and spoke about his attempts to carry his suitcase museum to other more remote areas to share and collect information. He's also got the title of historian of the country or something like that. I'll edit when I get the better details.

So the church we met at is the Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. The Cruz de la Parra is located here too. It's supposed to be one of the last remaining 29 crosses erected by Columbus in 1492 - or so they say. Now after carbon dating they realized that the wood doesn't seem to come from Spain so who knows what's really the truth? Regardless, the church has gone through some renovations but it is the one of the oldest - remember, Baracoa is also known as the first city of Cuba since this is where Spain is thought to have landed.




Facing the church doors with all his pride is Hatuey - the first rebel of the Americas. He seems to have been a pretty bad ass guy. Unfortunately he was betrayed in the end - isn't that how it always is? - and he got caught by the Spaniards and was burned alive. When he was asked if he wanted to repent, confess and get the chance to go to Heaven, he asked the priest if there Spaniards would be there too. The priest said yes and so he said he'd rather go to Hell.

"Here is the God the Spaniards worship. For these they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea... They tell us, these tyrants, that they adore a God of peace and equality, and yet they usurp our land and make us their slaves. They speak to us of an immortal soul and of their eternal rewards and punishments, and yet they rob our belongings, seduce our women, violate our daughters. Incapable of matching us in valor, these cowards cover themselves with iron that our weapons cannot break."

He's also known as "The Indian" and Cohiba as well as some other brands use him as their logo. They couldn't have picked better. I started reading up on the guy. I'm surprised there isn't a movie out yet. I guess Columbus makes for better box office figures. And so Hatuey faces off in the town square against the Church and all it stands for. I really, really like everything about it.

We then wandered over to the local gallery where many of us bought pieces of art. I did too. It was a really nice gallery!






-------------------------------------------------------------
The Baracoa visit was one highlight after another. We stopped off at an old hotel owned by a woman from Russia and got the history of that - I was paying less attention here. And that was followed to a visit to the Museo Matachin for our next bit of entertainment.
We got in a bit too late the night before and instead of getting two bands, we only got one. The one that was about to play was pushed back to today and wow, we were all so thrilled not to have missed them! They were my favorite of the entire trip and yet they didn't have any CDs for purchase. Luckily I've already found them on Spotify and Amazon too!

Maravilla Yunquena

Just going to drop the music right here:









The rest of the Videos are at my VIMEO page.
Just watching these over again make me feel really good. I really did like Baracoa and I need to plan a return that lasts a few days longer!


Then on to the next stop and lunch. That goes in the next post.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
So I've fallen behind. I thought I would. There's been a lot of traveling happening and very little time to catch up between work and rest. So the posts may become a bit shorter. Hopefully not too sparse in detail because otherwise I'd just be tweeting all this. Since Cuba, I've been in Florida, then flew home. Then a weekend trip to New York and then home once again. In a couple of weeks I head off for Japan followed by the Northern Marianas. I'd better gt to it!


The Casa Particulares had 3 bedrooms so I got housed with [livejournal.com profile] wrayb and Alan and Dirck and David. What a super cute place. Why did I not take photos? Stupid, stupid. After a nap we headed off to dinner at La Poeta. It was really yummy. I drank a lot of NoJitos and Pinadas.





Total thumbs up kind of place!


After that we headed off to another performance by BaraRumba!
This was kind of lively. The dancers put on more of a theatrical show which included body paint as well as costumes. There was also audience participation.




Michelle and David rocking it!


The night was getting long. And I was ready to go to bed. However I snapped a few shots while walking back.
This place is awesome. The wet street with its bright colours made me think I was on some kind of movie set or Disney theme park. Really love the colours here...









kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Woke up and headed to the rooftop to eat breakfast and enjoy the sunrise.
I got a couple of nice pano shots too!







Click on the image to see it full size. Hopefully the quailty doesn't go to crap when LJ uploads it.
Anyway, all the images that I've posted here and more have been posted to my tumblr account so you can always go there.

We were able to have the option to leave our larger suitcases behind and just pack an overnight. The Hotel E Imperial hooked us up! Hurray! (I think I forgot to mention something about the water running out on one of the other nights. I'll edit that info back in when I get to transcribing my hand-written journal notes).

So onto the bus for the ride east, past Guantanamo, then south and east along the coast to Imías and then north on La Farola! The government under Batista may have made promises and started it but it's the revolution that got it done! In 1965 Baracoa was now accessible by land! I've been on some sketchier roads but this one definitely has some spots worth watching out for, especially if you're on a large bus. There are also bicyclists that use the road too! Some spots have very steep falls and some of the road is worn. It's going to be a road you want to use during the day time. Plus you get to see great views while cruising through the Cuchillas de Baracoa mountains.



But first we stopped at an overlook that gave us a view of Guantanamo. Sometimes I wonder how the locals can be so nice and open to us when they find out we're from the USA. Granted we as individuals didn't open up the base and we as individuals aren't refusing to close it and give their land back and give them back the access to the water and the sea!
The town of Guantanamo is poor and because of our branding, tourists don't really flock there as they would other towns. But tourism is what they need to get some money flowing through.
We actually didn't make a stop in town on this trip, but drove onwards. Another day in the future we'd be visiting though!









That's the base in the distance and the mouth of the giant harbor that the locals don't have access to.

And once again onto the bus after a quick break and along the underdeveloped coast towards Imías !
I slept for most of the journey but during this part I woke up because it was so nice to see the blue of all that water!

 

After Imías the road turns north and heads into the mountains. We were given some gorgeous views and some slightly more sobering ones. Some of the road was a bit worn and we could see where the rockslides could ruin a commute. Also, we were able to see some traces of what Hurricane Matthew left behind.

Here's a video on the history of La Farola:











As we made our journey through the mountains, and climbing in altitude, the bus started to strugle so we stopped and gave it a little break. It was a nice pause and we were all able to get out and have a little walk around. We bought local items from the house we stopped in front of (water, cocoa butter pots, and yummy coconut wrapped in leaves). There was a fresh water stream and I got a photo of me in front of it. I look like a slob.



Almost there!

Photo Dump !! OMG I love Baracoa!!! AIEEE I wish we had more time to spend here. I would definitely come back to this place omfg. It's not that it was particularly luxurious, or anything. The place just had a feeling and although I took a lot of photos, it's not really something you can get out of my fast shots.






















Lunch was pretty nice. I forget the name at the moment. oh. El Buen Sabor. It had all sorts of stickers on the window for Yelp, n Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor n stuff. Then we ended up meeting our hosts for the night and visited our casa particulares for a little siesta before the scheduled evening activities!

kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
So onwards!
We then headed into the Los Hoyos area of town.
Conga las Hoyas makes sense for a name now, eh?
The place was called Foco Cultural, Conga los Hoyos.
And it was loud!












---------
After this we headed back to the hotel for a break before going to dinner. I decided to go with the group because we were told it'd be some Chinese place. That really got my hopes up at least, but it was far from it!
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From the journal:
Today was full of history and culture. Just like every day. I really need to study and learn about this region's history. It'd be more helpful in being able to keep up with the information dump being thrown into our heads each time we board the bus. It's great info but I'll bet if I had prepared better then I'd be able to connect the dots and absorb more. Even still, it's great to listen to - even if I consistently fall asleep most of the time.
When I get home I'm going to start looking up Cuba history.
I'm also going to eat Chinese food. For real. With lots of spicy red chili peppers.
I am deaf. Thank you conga los hoyos. I will pretend the faint sound in my head are my other personalities being more vocal than usual.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
So from the phallic fishing spear and metal man statue, we headed to the small town nearby for a bit of singing and then a bit more singing with the dancing.

This stuff:
house of spiritist Juan González Pérez “Madelaine”
groups Cabildo Cimarrón and Voces del Milagro
Castillo San Pedro de la Roca (Morro Castle)


The groups we saw were different but had some of the same participants.



 

 

So they danced and we watched. And I got a shot of everyone watching. It's more than just our group. Our visit would coincide with a group of students studying abroad for a month or so based in Havana but they were out east. We would run into them later on too!



We then got on the bus and headed through Santiago to the coast to visit the Castillo San Pedro de la Roca aka Morro Castle. We had to wait a bit to all get seated for lunch but once it happened it was pretty good. I suppose.
I started getting really moody. My ability to be around people was starting to wear thin and I needed to get away so I skipped dessert and went outside to chill out in the hot sun. Eventually everyone got back on the bus once again. As we cruised through the backside of the Castillo and along the road we noticed the beach and lovely coast lined with super blue water but we were denied and so there was no opportunity to get our feet wet.
How disappointing.
So back to the hotel and then off to another show and dinner. This time it was the Tumba Francesa of Santiago. I wanted to kill people or myself so I decided on staying in and by myself because that was a much better idea.

In the photo below I'm smiling but I'm probably digging my nails into my skin.
Everyone else looks pretty exhausted. including [livejournal.com profile] wrayb










I went out to dinner by myself. I ate pizza. I ate flan. And all was well for a little while.








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From the journal:
Currently: found time to hang out by myself by skipping the evening activities. I really needed to do this. Got a pizza and some flan and now I'm closing my time here out at the Hotel Casa Granda with a virgin Pina Colada. Because why not?
I really hope the water is back on at our hotel. The hotel is nice enough but not without water!
The nights here are warm and loud - but not annoyingly so. Very festive and if we end up switching to this hotel we will have WiFi but we will also get all of the noise too from the square.
I think I will have heard Guantanamera enough tiems on this trip - so far we're averaging about 5x /day.
Unfortunately the Galaxy phone here - being a Samsung product wont connect to the local WiFi. Even Jesus tells me that his kids have had issues with their Samsung phones. At least the laptop works however I can'd do phone check-ins or Instagram uploads. Even getting a local SIM card wont work because those don't actually offer data. :-(

Oh well, being off like is a pain and difficult for me with my addiction but it's nice to connect to the people I'm actually surrounded by at least. Losing out on work because I'm not quick enough to respond is a bit problematic though.
Enough. Back to my hotel.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Day 3 in Cuba. We had a pretty full schedule set for today:
Sanctuary of LA Caridad del Cobre
the Momument to the Cimarrón
the house of spiritist Juan González Pérez "Madelaine"
and saw the groups Cabildo Cimarrón and Voces del Milagro.

(I don't remember these details. It's what I took off of our info FAQ of the tour).

So then, started off with breakfast at the hotel. I really like breakfast. Plus, we get an awesome view of the city from the roof top.
This is looking SW. The harbor would be a bit to the left in the image.


So then, off into the bus and to El Cobre. It's about 30 minutes west of Santiago in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra. Nearby are the old copper mines. It's supposed to be the most important church in Cuba where people come from all over to pay their respects. Inside is the Virgen de la Caridad - the protector of Cuba. Her parallel figure in Afro-Cuban worship is Ochún, goddess of love and femininity, who is also dark-skinned and dressed in bright yellow garments. The place was built in 1927 and has a super long name: El Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre.









From the parking lot area of this church we could see our next destination: the Monument to the Cimarrón.
When we got to the monument, I decided on not climbing up the stairs in the heat and staying below with the metal man (statue).
The photo of the monument is from [livejournal.com profile] wrayb cuz he climed up those stairs! Later during our trip, we would meet Alberto Lescay - the sculptor and visit his workshop too!

" El Monumento al Cimarron” (the Monument to Runaway Slaves), a towering sculpture created in bronze and iron, was built on a hill near the town of El Cobre, in Santiago de Cuba Province, to honor one of the earliest slave revolts that took place in the country.

This region, with its great tradition of struggle, was the scene of many acts of insubordination and mass slave escapes in the years 1673, 1691, 1731, 1737 and 1781. But the uprising of July 24, 1731 qualifies as one of the most important slave protests in Cuba, noted by historians for its character and importance.


The work that marks this revolt was produced by artist Alberto Lescay Merencio, a sculptor and painter highly recognized in contemporary international and Cuban visual arts. He wanted to pay tribute to this event in history, so in 1997 he constructed the monument." (Source)







Below where I waited was a sculpture that surprised me when I got closer. I didn't realize he did't have pants on n stuff. From here though, you can see the church in the distance.









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From the written journal:

To the bus! Went tto the Sactuario del Cobré. Walked around it. Saw religious stuff. Ran away.
Back on the bus! Idid not combust.
Some pretty spots inside of there but those kinds of places to not make me feel comfortable.
Went to a monument accessible by stairs. A lot of stairs. Skipped seeing the monument. Took photos of the art piece with a big dick.
Back on the bus.
Then into town to see the spiritist and dancers. Fun. Everyone danced.
Not me. I don't dance.
Now at Los Morros taking too long for lunch. This is cutting into my sleep. Already nodded off on the bus on the way here. Supposed to check out the castle. It's over there. Checked it out.
Boom. Done.
Irritated. Easily irritated. Want to explode. Or implode. Or something. Had to step away.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Day 2 started with a very nice sunrise before jumping onto the bus and heading to Sagua de Tánamo to see the Tumba Francesa de Bejuco. When we arrived, the town band was playing in the square and performed a song for us before we all headed into their local cultural center and a museum to listen to a local artist and town historian.
We're going to meet a lot of historians filled with information on their local areas. It's really enlightening and encouraging to see how they try and keep their traditions and culture alive.
 

 


 


 

 


After the dancing we jumped on the bus and had lunch with the performers. Afterwards they would then jump into the back of a truck for their 3 hour journey back into the mountains to Bejuco while we had the comfortable bus take us to Santiago. I slept for most of that drive. But woke up when we got to Santiago.


 


 

We checked into the hotel Imperial and rested for a bit. Then it was off to dinner which was on the roof of the hotel.
It's got a very nice view.


 

 

 

i tried to take a few panorama shots. I will attempt to link full size images to the smaller ones.





That's it for day 2.

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From the journal:

Today is the long drive north and east to the coast followed by a doubly long drive to the opposite southern coast to Santiago. I think now is a grand time to nap.

13 March
Yesterday.
Pretty much slept through all of the driving we did to the town where we saw the tumba francesa, museum and dancers.
Noticed that the dancing was very stiff and controlled. All due to the French infuence in Haiti Th ancestors of these dancers then came to Cuba and attempted to continue the tradition. The singer sang in Creole.
After the performances we went to lunch with them. It was chicken and more rice with beans. I really wish I brought the hot sauce.

I awoke again when we arrived in Santiago mid-drive.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
We got in the bus and headed into town to the Restaurante Avilés.
It was really nice for our first place and there we met the local historian/musician who gave us a history of the restaurant, the building itself, and some local facts. After we ate, he took us to the space next door to show us the room the band practiced in. The Orquesta Hermanos Avilés was founded in 1882. After that we moved to a larger space and the band performed for us. The private concert was finished off by everyone dancing.

 


 

 

Back to the hotel and bed to prepare for the next day.

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From the written journal:
After a nice nap we headed off for dinner.The place was aptly named Restaurante Avilés. There we were given an opening introduction of the history of the place and a drink. I ended up getting one without the rum.
For food options there was a choice between marlin and chicken. I had the fish. Sides for the main was rice with a lot of beans. Ick! There were multiple courses though and then there was ajicao which was different from the one I've tried at home but still very good. Dessert was flan! :-)
Next door to the restaurant was an open sapve where we were given another history lesson by the local music historian of the area. The space was the practice room of the Orquesta Hermanos Avilés which was founded in 1882 originally.

We all piled into the bus once again and headed to a space that looked like it functioned as a children's day care or play space. Either way it was quite sparse. We watched the band play for about an hour or so. It was great. Most members of the group took photos or videos and danced.
kumimonster: (me wcGreen)
Trying this again. Multiple posts already attempted. At least I sorted out the photo posting issue.

Took a red eye flight on March 10. Landed Fort Lauderdale March 11 early am.
Easy enough flight. Slept so-so. Jetblue flight so got a night packet with earplugs and sleep mask which came in handy just about everyday.
Met up with peeps then onwards to Holguin when that flight came up.
Here's photo of me and [livejournal.com profile] wrayb in Florida.

  

  


Landed in Cuba after a short flight. Then got on the bus - our part-time home for the next several days under the helm of Captain Pepe. I slept a lot on this bus.
We then proceded up to a hill - the Loma de la Cruz - for a great view of Holguin. It's possible to walk up the 484 steps. It's also possible to go up using other means. I prefer 'other means'.

  

Then off to the Soviet-era hotel called the Pernik. It's got an impressively sized lobby and pool area. Award winning I heard. It's definitely of an era that's long since been left behind however my first impression was that I liked it.
I didn't get to enjoy the pool. It seemed a bit not-chlorinated-enough for my taste. Also, if you ever come here, bring ear plugs. The place is an echo chamber/sound amplifier.
Once you get to the rooms, the place seems more basic. Very basic and minimal. Towel is thin - (towel: you get one. no biggie for me).
No soaps or other amenities. Shower head was OK but attachment to wall was broken. TV worked. Pillow (single) was more like a loosely stuffed half-a-t-shirt.

20170311_154038.jpg    20170311_154038.jpg

IMG_20170311_155308_376.jpg   

We rested for an hour or so before heading to dinner and the evening concert. That's in the next post.
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From my written journal:
11 March
Waiting at the gate and watching the people pass by and those sitting here as well. There's always the one that takes up more seats than decently allowed. Shoes on the seats, etc. Now spraying perfume and assaulting everyone else's sense of smell.

Pet peeve --> annoyance. Excess noise pollution via personal electronics/cell phone use - we all don't want to hear your silly videos from across the room.

Finally on board. March 17, 2016 was the first entry so this has been sporadic journaling for just under a year. I need to write more though. What I really need at the moment is a nap. Here's hoping I can get oe in on this short flight to Holguin. Slept horribly last night. Usually plane sleeping happens for me but this wasn't as good as other experiences.

12 March
Yesterday first. Flights were no problem. Somewhat of a long connection at FLL but in the end it wasn't unbearable.
(Long? nothing at all like the 10+ hour ones I've done).
The only long line came after arrival at Holguin after going through passport control. Had to wait to go though a security check point and scan primarily used to check for items the govt could charge duy on for locals coming in or people attempting to sell big ticket items. From there we all jumped on a nice tour bus and headed up a hill over looking the city of Holguin witha great view of all the surroundings. On top of the area was a small fort-like structure as well as a cross. Later that night we'd see the spot from below lit up with white lights lining the 484 steps that went from street level to the top. The cross was lit up with a bright blue light.

...the Hotel Pernik. It's a pretty cool giant hotel with about five floors. The lobby area is large and spread out with dated decore. The hotel is a Soviet-era constuction that has totally gone off the vibe of the past with slippery tiled floors ad entrance way. INside the decore is in shades of dark orange and brown and red. Some of the furniture on the upper floor "lobby" areas show definite signs of wear. They're also very low-seating @ only a food or so of height.

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