White beaches and glorious crystal blue seas frame an island steeped in history clinging to itself for success. Its heroes in Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are emblazoned across every street, in every town in every region; the people, committed to a life of communism with an income stream from the capitalist tourists of the North.
The country opened its borders to travel in the early 1990’s as their Sugar Cane exports ran dry. The need for better technology encouraged them to trade directly with both Russia and China; the main cities certainly do not go without all the mod-cons of the developed modern age – do we include the iPhone? Well, yes they have them too.
If you want to join in the official parties you need to put faith and trust in the local Cubans who will order a taxi and take you to the chosen event. However be aware that you will most likely be expected to pay the taxi fair, entrance fee and possibly a drink for the guide.
Unfortunately as the gay scene is yet to enjoy the freedoms of North America and Europe, or even its South American counterparts, Havana’s gay nightlife is one of the best-kept secrets.
Taxis will give you that thrill factor that you only dream of when watching classic 1950’s flicks. The Chevrolets are a pain in the bum, quite literally, constantly being repaired by their owners, these machines bump and grind along the pot-holed roads letting off a proud roar with each acceleration. Ladas on the other hand can be a tight fit. Wherever you go you will also see Bici-taxi (tricycles with seats) and horse carriage transporting locals and can be used by tourists.
Bikes – have to be the best way to get round any country. We hired a set in Trinidad ($3CUC each a day) and enjoyed a leisurely roll to Playa Ancon for snorkelling in the coral reef.
Sightseeing - Old Havana, Centro, Costa Blanca,
Costa Blanca is just a short boat trip across the harbour where you will find a working 1950’s electric railway, a monument to the former president and the home of Che Guevara.
Centro Habana is the life and soul of the city, where you will find disused theatres, abandoned steam trains, and rusting American style school buses. Capitolio Nacional is an exquisite structure modelled on the Washington Whitehouse, in fact opposite you can find the most central gay bar – Prado Cafeteria. Only open until 9pm and serving canned beers, Cubans stop by this waterhole to exchange gossip and plan their evenings ahead. Tourists get a lot of attention!
Resort – Veradero
A tourist bus will take you up the peninsular where you can visit other hotel resorts or go into the central market to purchase handmade Cuban souvenirs. At night the resorts display plenty of entertainment and there are always late night street parties. Varadero is a popular destination for gay couples enjoying their honeymoon or a romantic break away.
You can certainly find gay-friendly Casas in the country; Jorge Silvio accommodates gay tourists from Europe and Canada advising on where to go and how to get by. Jorge has an excellent network of friends who offer additional rooms, flats, meals, and airport transfers all for a fixed and reasonable price.
Santa Clara is also home to a network of gay-owned Casas including Alba Hostal and Hostal Florida Central. These two hostels are national treasure chests. They boast more antiques than the local museums and serve the largest meal portions in the country.
Next was Coral Beach for snorkelling among tropical fish followed by a stop at Saturno Cave for some fresh water swimming. Lunch consisted of typical Cuban cuisine; Chicken Soup, Fried Potatoes, Rice and Black Beans, with a light sprinkle of cabbage salad. After lunch visitors can partake in Horse and Bull riding before departing for a riverboat cruise with live music and Samba Dancers. For a reasonable $73CUC - but remember your driving licence.
Entertainment – Club Mujunje
Trinidad in Cuba
Trinidad is a UNESCO Heritate Site and it is definitely a marvalas you arrive in a town that is stuck in colonial Spain of the 19th Century. Old cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses, ornate squares, simple churches and a central communion point for their music outlet.
This small town gives you a real essence as to how Cubans live, discover how they feel about their political situation and find ways they are trying to go beyond these restraints. Running another business ispopular here and they understand thr tourist trade, making some super crafts through pottery, carving, jewlery and clothings and fabrics.
Take on a bike to visit the coast and dive into the shallow waters of the Caribbean to discover some of the local coral reefs. Trinidad makes you feel a million miles away from home.
Monday, 13 February 2012
During the 1950’s Cuba was the next big thing; splendid resorts lined the coast just east of Havana
Source = Ryan C Haynes
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