Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Postcard from Cuba by Diane

I made it to Cuba a couple of years ago while people to people cultural exchange tours were still allowed. I could write a book but you can read a tour book. I want to talk about the people and the way they live. All jobs are given by the government and paid by the government in a Cuban only currency which cannot be exchanged and cannot be spent in tourist stores. A ration book monthly provides some basic foodstuffs but never enough.

With Raul Castro in charge a bit of private enterprise is now allowed. People with houses in town are turning the front room into a barber or beauty shop or a tiny market. People with big homes on a square turn the downstairs into a complete restaurant which can accept the Cuban tourist money.

Property cannot be bought or sold. Whoever was living in a place after the Revolution became the owner. A maid still in the family’s mansion after the family escaped to the US this maid became the owner of the house and could move in 20 of her relatives.

Our lovely Cuban guide whom I’ll call Maria was divorced with twin 3 year old girls whom her mother kept when she had to travel. Due to shortages in nearly everything she had trouble getting tooth paste soap and various foods. The shortages varied Day to day and month to month. Maria is considered fortunate to work in tourism because she gets tips in Cuban tourist money or hard currency from other countries. This means she can sometime shop in tourist shops where supplies are much better.

I’d like to tell you about one more family. The young husband inherited a two car garage with la yard behind it. Inheritance is the only way to accure property. He and his bride moved into the garage and worked on it as they could. Construction materials are very expensive and rare. They now have a six year old and a baby nearly a year. The wife has to return to teaching after a year. The husband works a government job and goes to tourist school at nite to try for a better paying job. They also sell occasional bags of coffee from her family’s farm. The husband buys single cigars given daily to each worker in the cigar factory. He collect the Cigars and boxes them then sells the box when he can.

In the six years the family has lived in the garage they have made the garage the living room, built two small bedrooms with blankets hanging for doors. The small eat in kitchen has a sink refrigerator and a hot plate. A bathroom which we didn’t see is off the kitchen.

These are the type stories you don’t get unless you are there. the Cuban people were friendly to us and are working so hard. I would love to go back but politically that is not feasible now

I hope some of you will share some of your stories.

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My favorite, unbelievable, different, and just perfect vacation was camping on the beach, 7 miles away from creature comforts. You must first know that I was raised on 5 star hotels, top of the line and pinky finger raised above tea cups. My father’s advice to be proper was to keep my mouth closed, have a vapid smile and keep my knees together. If any of you have followed my comments you know I do not keep my mouth close. As to that vapid smile I can attest one has never been seen on my face. And to the the knees business, that’s none of your business. Now on to beach camping.

Words can not really convey the feelings of being bathed in warm sunshine with sand sifting between your toes, or falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach just 15 ft. from your head. To partake in a fresh, just caught by you, seafood dinner while watching the red sun sink slowly into the blue ocean is beyond breathtaking. This is not a pick up the phone and make a reservation vacation. It is costly, hard work and learning a whole new way of living.

My husband drove the 4 wheel drive pickup with a camper package in the bed, rather like the turtle with his house on his back. I drove the Volkswagen bus with over sized flotation tires. We called her ‘Sweetems.’ We built a big box to sit on the roof and cart all our equipment..food, water .tent, medical case, shovels, clam rakes, ropes, extra tires/rims, jack boards, fishing gear, grates, lanterns and what all. You brought what you needed or did without. There were no convenience stores on that 7 miles of empty open beach and it took almost 2 hrs to drive on the sand even with the tires flattened to 10 pounds. You could also drive down by the waters edge, but if you didn’t know/understand how water and sand work you could get stuck and if the tide was coming in you could loose your vehicle to the ocean.

The longest we ever stayed was 15 days and by then our two boys invited their friends which then totaled 6 boys. We had become a community! Since I had no intentions of eating cold beans out of a can, I prepared and froze a cooked turkey, sauces, 50 breakfasts of French toast and an assortment of goodies. we buried the ice chests in wet sand and kept wet towels on top. Believe it or not they were still very cold on the 15th day. How can I explain the fun of seating around the campfire eating fresh mussels, we just brought in, in marina sauce and tossing the shells over our shoulders. They were wonderful times.

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If You Call it “Travel”

I guess you could call it “travel”: I would love to get out of this terrible place where I live and *move* to a nicer place. But most nicer places than here aren’t affordable, plus Hubby absolutely loves it here (if he had a time machine, he’d go back to the 19th Century in a minute); so here we stay.

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I would love to travel, but not this summer, for a personal reason. My granddaughter and grandson will be away overseas, and in Rochester Tech respectively, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible. One relatively close trip I would like to take is with them, perhaps to Washington DC, and a separate trip with my grandson somewhere else. Maybe NYC with my grandson.

I would go to Cuba in the fall if I could, but i’m afraid that is no longer possible, which makes me sad. If overseas travel wasn’t such a hassle, I have the fondest memories of Italy, and that’s where I would go if everything was equal, which it is not.

Come to think of it, I am planning to go to a spa with a close friend this summer for a few days!

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