BSharp and Bizarro lowbag across the second biggest country in South America, from the spectacular waterfalls and incan ruins in the north to the spectacular glaciers in the south, all the way to the end of the world...
Did I mention we get cable here? Yup, all 80 channels. One of them is CNN. US Style. We also get "CNN En Espanol" - which is pronounced as in the title.
Sunday night at 10pm Hurricane Wilma was barelling towards the west coast of Florida, and I watched a solid hour of it. They interviewed hurricane experts, security experts, residents, forecasters, you name it. Did they mention Cuba once? Nup. Was it actually hitting Havana during this particular report? Yep. There it was, clearlly swirling away on top on Havana in the little
satellite picture in the bottom right hand corner of the screen for the
whole program. C'mon guys.. give it up, they're just a pissy little island who can't hurt you anymore, give up the biter reproach, you just look like a huffy bitchy older sister going "Did you hear something? I didn't hear hear anything" while sitting on your sibling. But they did put a rundown on their website.
Cuba hadn't reported any deaths at time of writing but they do get problems with buildings falling down, especially after they dry out. So this may or may not be a prudent time to mention our near-hurricane experience. We were staying on the 5th floor of a building about one block away from the iconic Malecon. That's the gorgeous street along the the sea wall, captured by Wim Wenders. On our second day there, the first thing our landlady said to Chris was "do you have any water"?. She urged us to go immediately to the shop for 2 days of water and juice, as there may be a hurricane on the way. Er, did you say hurricane?
We did as we were told and tried to go market shopping too, and got caught in a vicious downpour that made a mockery of our packa-macs. Subsequently we returned to the flat to find one broken window pane, a floor full of water and sideways rain coming in through all the window frames. We spent the rest of the afternoon and next day inside sheltering from the storm while Walkiria cooked up enough beans and rice for two days in case both the power gas or water were cut*. Amazingly only the gas went out for an hour or two, and the only effect to us was a slightly longer stay in Havana than planned. Which is not very just considering our country has possibly the highest per head greenhouse gas emissions per person.
*Ie. if the gas goes out, you can't boil water, and with the whole city stocking up on bottled water, the state run shops were likely to run out.. so a couple of turistas could get quite sick indeed. No water = no toilet flushing.
Hey there, Biz has been spending time captioning the photos from Cuba. The many monuments and spanish inscriptions may make a bit more sense now. We both found the mass of revoluntionary reminders fascinating by the way. And to everyone who wanted to see more photos of me (aw shucks, thanks - you big bunch of soppy dates) try Holland and Limeyland albums. And there´s one of the back of my head in Santa Clara... c´mon... you all know what we look like!
Last wednesday was the 45th anniversary of the creation of the CDR - commitee in defence of the revolution. These are guys who live on every block and keep and eye on all the residents for breaches of the rules ... selling both meat and cheese from your front room, for example. The word "denounce" comes into the picuture if you get my drift.
There was a street party all over town, with massive cooking pots simmering on fires in the gutters (lobster possibly), salsa and cuban pop blaring from stereos every few doorways, and in our street they burnt an effigy of George Bush at midnight while singing the cuban anthem. Five minutes later our very effusive neighbours were trying to teach Bizzo to dance, and touting for our taxi fares to Havana, or the beach, or a private room all at the same time. Yep, we were in Cuba allright. -- There are a couple of photos of CDR decorations after the party on the album.
Ps. we got to Argentina on the weekend. Not much to report yet, on the search for accomodation.
Here we are in Trinidad, Cuba. Literally both of us as the internet is so expensive we can only afford one computer. Yes, if you want to holiday in the world's socialist paradise then bring PLENTY of money. And/or be prepared to do very shady deals to obtain local currency and experience weird rituals for seating arrangements, or glass provision in ''peso'' establishments. Not that we would pull anything like that. More on that later.
See here on the island some genius decided to create 2 parallel currencies which is all well and good for some who can let tourists stay in their house for example. However, some items are only available in one kind of money, making life difficult for all the rest. And making them very interested in what's in that spunky man-bag that cost 5 euros in Berlin.
So here in Cuba we are loving the life, we saw an awesome "son" group last night and hung out drinking rum and cola (that's tuKola mind you) and listening to them compose a new piece in traditional Cuban style. They were laughing, being friendly and the music was awesome. Last night we stayed in an average hotel with no water for about 2 hours this morning, but now we've moved to a private home with a five star set up for a fraction the price. Just an example of some the upside down nature of the place that *everyone* talks about.
We spent the weekend in Santa Clara, it rocks. Night life coming out your ears. We met a Dutch guy called Hans who is a cuba afficionado who gave us a few tips - thanks mate if you log on. We also hung out in the most gay square I've ever seen, to rival Taylor, I swear. We chatted to the divine Franc, a law student and a couple of dancers, and Biz has a nice new collection of email addresses now. I reckon its a different Cuba coming when Franc and his mates graduate here. Tomorrow, horseriding in the countryside. Nice one, Biz.
And also big love to Ruth, Els, Mandy, Bazza, Phil James and Emma for a great night out and the super comfort of my home away from home in the Midlands en route to here.