A Month in Cuba

I can’t believe that we have spent close to a month in Cuba.  A few days in Puerto Vita at the marina where we parked Viatori with some sight seeing there and an introduction to local Cuban food, then renting a car and on to Holguin, Santiago and Baracoa to stay in casa particulars and experience some of Cuba.  Everyone was glad to be home again, back on Viatori after two weeks on the road.

Then we geared up for a marathon of a trip, 62 hours straight, 320 nautical miles or 550 km of minimal sailing and far more motoring, to get the boat from Puerto Vita to Varadero.  Three straight days of being on the boat, no wind, making lousy time and it was smoking hot the whole time.  Not my idea of a great time.  We pulled into the Gaviota Marina in Varadero at 2am and still had to check in with the harbour master with passports in hand.  No a/c on the boat as we had problems with the electrical outlets, still very hot.  But we are here!

Our reward is a week long vacation at an all inclusive resort with a surprise for the boys, just in time for Ethan’s third birthday.  Gord and Jan arranged a last minute trip to meet us for the week in Varadero and we managed not to spill the beans with the boys.  Jan arrived first by herself as Gord had business to take care of before he could join us.  The boys were thrilled to see Opa and Oma!  We had a great week, no cooking, no cleaning, hot showers, hours spent by the pool and a great respite from full time care of the boys.  We always appreciate an extra set of hands and the boys enjoyed sleepovers in Opa and Oma’s suite for the entire week!  The week went by rather quickly and on Thursday we said goodbye to Gord and Jan.

We stayed at the resort for one more night and then after a very quick turnover at Viatori, we took a cab/van ride to Havana.  We had a great driver who spoke excellent English and he gave us a bit of a guided tour from Varadero to Havana, pointing things out to us and explaining other things to us.  We managed to find a casa in downtown old Habana, within walking distance of almost everything we wanted to see and do.  We did take a horse drawn carriage ride (au natural air conditioning, the driver says to us!), a coco taxi (the boys loved this!) and a regular taxi to a few places.  We saw and did a lot of things, but some of the highlights were a rum museum, the Planetarium (unfortunately it was all in Spanish, go figure!), the Museum Castle of the Royal Force and the Convent of San Francisco de Asis.

The family in front of a Coco Taxi

The family in front of a Coco Taxi

The Havana Club Rum Museum had a great tour in English (yeah for us!), an awesome model train that the boys were fascinated by and it was interesting to learn about the history and process of making rum.  At the Planetarium, we tagged along with a school group and explored the main auditorium, which had a huge sphere representing the sun and James named all the planets surrounding it.  It also has a round theater room that projects up to 6,500 stars and it reiterated an astronomy lesson I had done with the boys on the boat.  Kinda cool.  The museum castle was built between 1558 and 1577 which makes it the oldest fort in the Americas.  It had a huge scale model ship of a Spanish ship, Santissima Trinidad and cool artifacts like gold, silver and other treasure found from sunken ships.  The Convent of San Francisco de Asis is a beautiful old church that boasts one of the cities best concert halls.  When we walked through, someone was practicing for the Saturday concert, so it was filled with melodious piano music while we walked to the top of the bell tower to lookout over the entire city of Havana.

Model train setup at the Havana Club Rum Museum.  The model is of a modern sugar mill and distillery.  We saw one on the way home from Havana to Varadero and it pretty much is exactly the same.

Model train setup at the Havana Club Rum Museum. The model is of a modern sugar mill and distillery. We saw one on the way home from Havana to Varadero and it pretty much is exactly the same.

A huge model of the sun which has a theater for a constellation lesson inside of it.

A huge model of the sun which has a theater inside of it.

Castillo de la Real Fuerza in Havana

Castillo de la Real Fuerza in Havana

A scale model of the Trinidad.  It fought on the losing side at Trafalgar against Lord Nelson.

A scale model of the Santisima Trinidad, built in Havana and had highest gun count of any ship built during the age of sail. It fought on the losing side at Trafalgar against Lord Nelson and was captured then scuttled.

We also found some great paladars to eat at, which is an often small, private restaurant, we interacted with some interesting mime/human statues on the street and experienced the hustle and bustle of life in Havana.  We had a few low points of being too hot, too hungry and too tired of being asked if we wanted a taxi.  No gracias, already!  Anyways, we will leave Cuba with some great memories.  Now, on to Florida!

A mime statue.  Ethan was always a little scared by them

A mime statue.

Mooky in a cab during a traffic stop when the policia checked whether our driver was legally transporting tourists.  All was well though.

Mooky in a cab during a traffic stop when the policia checked whether our driver was legally transporting tourists. Everything checked out because we were on our way in no time.

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