Havana Club: 1st Visit to Cuba in 1 Week

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Jose Marti International Airport´s Tower
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1951 Chevrolet that I hailed as I had arrived with 20 Canadian Dollars that exchanged to 15 Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC) which I was looking to convert to Cuban Pesos (CUP) until I figured out where to withdraw from an ATM machine.
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My honorable Spanish Profesor, Driver and Host: Alepio William Texido.  My memory recalled from 4 years of high school Spanish class and I was fluently speaking and understanding Spanish. If I needed some assistance I would ask if I was correct or incorrect, if I didn’t understand (no comprende), and Profesor William taught me the correct way to say. I was mixing up the masculine and feminine genders but they understood – Soy turista. My memory recalled from 13 years back… amazing how the mind works, right? 13 years ago I was wondering why am I even learning this language at Jamaica High School but I tried.Senior year my dean called me up why i didn’t show up for the Spanish Regents I told him I woke up, had test anxiety, and went back to sleep. He said if I had showed up and wrote Me Llamo Adam i would’ve gotten a 65 but since I didn’t I’m getting a 60. That was my senior year at Hewlett High School. If you need to book him his number is +53 32 26911. Extremely reasonable rates for room and driving, meals were included… all I needed was boiled eggs whites and coffee anyway but if you’ve got a big demand please know hat a loaf of bread costs $10 and you do need to get in line regardless of who you are (more on that later)…

 

 

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Dutch, English Professor Norma’s apartment… Coming to the rescue…
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First time, stopping to have Cafe con Leche for 2 CUC
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The coffee let’s just say was much better than the overpriced Starbucks… Wonder why Cuba doesn’t want that capitalistic influence of McDonald’s on every corner? Well go there and taste for yourself.

 

 

 

 

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Bus Terminal… I’m not taking the bus, we had a passenger to drop off.

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Norma and her friends daughter.
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Billboard of Fidel Castro near Plaza de la Recvolution
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Decided to rent a room with a bathroom, running water, electricity, clean filtered water, fresh juices from William’s fruit garden, I’m outside William’s house in Boyero’s… William and his lovely, caring, and amazing wife Elsa. Miss you guys… they made me their baby!

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High School Kids playing handball at Parque de Santiago.. one of the few places where you can find and pay for Wi-Fi in Havana, Cuba.

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Spent my last $5 on two (very basic) newspapers… I had only asked for one but she insisted I take two for $5  as one was $3. I figured she probably needs the extra $2 than I do so I took the two newspapers. No classifieds, no ads, no job listings. Just four pages of the coverage of the parade the day prior.
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Burnt down house nearby where William had to pick up his Chinese passengers back to the airport.

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Bidding farefell to the beautiful and lovely and charming  Belgium Belle: Rafaela, Pilates and Zumba instructor. The busy taxi incident almost got me into a Cuban Prison for 3 months. We were both looking for an ATM machine as our cards weren’t working. I had confirmed with CitiBusiness customer services prior to arriving in Cuba and the customer service representative clearly stated my Citibank ATM debit cards would work. After I had tried 3 ATMs in the vicinity we walked back to Iberostar Central Parque Hotel and told the doorman our situation. He said to go down the block and take the busy taxi, the bicycle rickshaw, for $1, and take it to Hotel Nacional… We took it, talked along the way about NYC and Belgium, I asked busy taxi driver if I could ride the rickshaw, rode it down one block up and down some hills, got back we continued to talk… he brought us to a corner near Malecon and we talked and walked to Hotel Nacional… Remember I had no cash on me as the last $5 I used to purchase 2 newspapers from an old lady, so the $1 shared ride we were now taking back to Central Havana pulled into an alley and started demanding $50! I realized immediately he was taking advantage of our situation and the fact that we were tourists. Rafael offered $20 to settle the cost of the ride. He refused told us to get back in his rickshaw as he was going to take us to the Police Station. I didn’t buy his threat and I told him if you’re going to be threatening us we’re not paying you a dollar and walking away. I turned around and William was calling for me. We walked to him and explained what the rickshaw driver was doing and William explained this is a serious matter… coincidently there was a police officer walking down the boulevard (pictures above of the blvd.) and the rickshaw driver approached him and while my driver, the police officer, and William continued to talked I continued to talk with Rafaella. I explained to her she has a flight to catch in a few hours , has to figure out how to pay for the rest of her room rental, leave this up to me and I will handle it. She smiled,  said thank you, and we bid farewell… but not for too long, right? Rafaella’s coming to NYC soon…

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This is the busy taxi driver. After my driver paid him $50 as he called him to tell him he’s bringing the police to his house to arrest me and him. By this point I booked a flight to Fort Lauderdale to withdraw funds… left behind my laptop and DSLR. I left all of my clothes and my meds as well. Just packed my messenger bag with a pair of clothes and the meds I would need the next few days, just in case. To be honest, the amount meds I take and left behind are probably worth more in Cuba than the laptop and DSLR combined.

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Back at HAV, William Junior at the sea-off.
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Smoker’s Area before flight boarded.
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Flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to withdraw funds from ATM

 

 

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