Now that I’m retired from traveling long distances, I’m going to travel the world in my head, using my imagination.
“What’s up, brother?” said the cool cat smoking a cigar, dressed to the nines, sitting next to me in the Cuban Club.
“I’m just admiring your clothes, my friend,” I said, sipping my minty Mojito ( a Cuban cocktail of rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint).
“Thank you, I try to look good,” he smiled.
He was wearing a white fedora, white shirt with red tie, red a black stripped vest, a white sports jacket, grey trousers and two-toned, white and black shoes.
I was in Havana, the capital of Cuba, checking my itinerary of things to do in Cuba.
“I’m hungry, what’s good here?” I asked.
My friend in the cool suit recommended a Cuban favorite, called Ajiaco stew, featuring potatoes, beef chunks, plantains, corn and old beer. Home cooked.
I ordered it, along with another Mojito. It was delicious. A man was plucking away at a double bass fiddle in the corner—good music to eat by.
I wandered over to the book rack and looked at all the 1959 revolutionary magazines on display—Castro and Che Guevera.
I walked out into the hot, sunny afternoon and heard the cheers of the crowd in the nearby baseball park. Baseball is the most played sport in Cuba. It was introduced by American dock workers in the late 1800’s.
I wandered around some more, past the old colonial houses with terraces.
I came upon a lot with 1950’s classic American cars, of which collectors would kill for.
From Oldsmobile to Chevrolet, Buick to Ford and Plymouth.
These were the Cuban’s everyday vehicles.
I asked the proprietor if I could rent one. He said he would drive me around in one for a fee. I picked out a Cadillac Eldorado and hopped in the passenger side.
“Why all the old classic American cars in Cuba?” I asked my driver.
“When Castro came to power he banned imports on foreign cars. So all the 1950’s cars were frozen in Cuba.”
The suspension was still ultra cushiony, a beautiful ride in a gigantic sedan.
We passed some beautiful scenery and some poor neighborhoods.
My driver let me off at a waterfront street festival. I walked around watching and listening reggae bands and jazz musicians. And there were salsa dancers on every corner.
I decided to try a Havana cigar. It was long and fat, made of fermented tobacco leaves.
I puffed a few times and then I made the mistake of inhaling.
I became light-headed. It was strong on flavor and quite an experience!
I imagined people getting HIGH on them.
So, on my imaginary trip to Cuba I experienced all the trademarks of Cuba:
The rum, the food, the salsa, the classic American cars, the poverty and the color of the festivals, and of course the cigars.
I saw the colonial architecture and the mixture of African, Caribbean and Latin culture with all the melodic rhythms that lure tourists from around the world.
I also learned some statistics on Cuba:
It’s 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
Havana is the capital.
The population is 11,500,000 approx.
The official language is Spanish, but many speak English as a second language.
Cuba is a bizarre nation, from it’s colonial relics to it’s palm-backed beaches.
Also published on Medium.
You embarked on a journey to Cuba.
You don’t need a passport or a plane ticket.
Just read the blog!
THANK YOU. I ENJOYED THE MOJITO AND THE MEAL. I’M A LITTLE TOO FULL TO WALK AROUND HAVANA, SO THE CADILLAC WAS PERFECT. I BOUGHT SOME SOUVENIRS FOR THE FAMILY AND I EVEN TRIED ONE OF THOSE GREAT CIGARS. I GOT LIGHT HEADED TOO.
REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR NEXT TRIP. I’M PACKED AND READY TO GO.