Cuba is going through a dramatic metamorphosis at the moment and those of us who live and work in Havana find it hard enough to keep up with the latest news! We’ll be posting occasional blogs and links to interesting articles so that you can try and keep up with all the change.
No.1 Classic Cuban Cocktail: The Mojito
Along with classic American cars and Che-berets, there isn’t anything much more emblematic of Cuba than a Mojito. Purported to date back to the time of Francis Drake when it was used as a cure for scurvy and popularised in the days when Havana was run by the Mob, the Mojito is a trademark of Cuban culture. Though it’s emulated all over the world, no Mojito is authentic without the essential home-grown ingredient, hierba buena, a mint hybrid also known as mentha nemorosa. The best mojito you try in Cuba won’t necessarily be in the Bodeguita del Medio, the famous bar once frequented by Ernest Hemingway, it’s more likely to be somewhere completely unexpected, like the humble rural home you stop at on a hike. The secret to a real Cuban mojito isn’t in the elaborate decoration or the cute piece of sugar cane slotted into your highball glass, it’s in the perfect mix of those classic, unbeatable ingredients: hierba buena, lime juice, rum and sugar.
Cuba – 99 problems and eggs is one
Though Hurricane Irma was all over the headlines in September, there is little evidence of it left in Cuba, with one exception: eggs. Oh to have eggs…for the last 2 months eggs have been a luxury item and Cubans are currently rationed to 5 eggs per person per month. Anything beyond that needs to be bought off a nervous-looking man whispering “huevos” at a petrol station for upwards of 8 dollars. For those without a ration book or a connection, eggs are simply non-existent. It’s understood that if someone has eggs, you don’t dare ask where they came from, you just watch them hoovering up their omelette with envious eyes.
A brutal dictator, El Comandante, a remarkable leader, champion of social justice, a monster, Guerrilla leader , el Jefe, Massacre, an unrepentant revolutionary. Such were some of the words used by world leaders to describe Fidel Castro Ruz upon hearing of his death last Friday. Without doubt one of the most important political figures of the 20th Century, he polarized a nation and was a thorn in the side of US Foreign policy for nearly 60 years.
Son of a Cuban émigré, John Paul Rathbone asks what Fidel’s death means for the republic’s people.
HAVANA TIMES — In what could be his last effort to warm relations with Cuba, President Obama today announced his approval of new regulations to facilitate business and trade.
Amazing photographs by Tess Baker …. see full set here
Once off-limits to most Americans, Cuba became just another stop on JetBlue’s international network on Wednesday, when the airline began operating the first direct commercial service between the United States and the island since the early 1960s.
In the next few months, several airlines will join JetBlue, offering services to a handful of Cuban provincial cities and, eventually, to Havana. American travelers will no longer rely on expensive, poorly serviced charter flights to reach the Caribbean’s largest and, arguably, most intriguing island.
by Tim Cole, British Ambassador to Cuba.
That’s it. I’m off. It’s been four years. Four fascinating, complicated, frustrating, perplexing, wonderful years. Is Cuba the only country in the world where it’s simultaneously fast and furious and time stands still?
There’s been change. Obama came and went. In El Vedado, a Maserati now parks alongside a Moscvich. People now IMO their Miami cousins from the local park. The Pope was here, then Madonna. Four million tourists flood in to bask on beaches or chug along in a Chevy. Meanwhile cigar-scented, pastel-coloured, charming, intriguing Havana suffers. Will it survive the combined pressure of population density, climate change and tourism? Or will houses crumble, pavements crack and ugly, new hotels deface the picture postcard façade?
Paladar La Guarida is tucked away within the walls of an old regal building. Its rundown interiors and eclectic exterior fits right in with the neighborhood’s Spanish architecture whose visual grandeur pepper the streets of the city. Set in a romantic, outdoor ambience overlooking the rooftops of Havana, Cuba we clink glasses to celebrate 20 years of the in-home restaurant with owner and creator, Enrique Nunez.
Obama’s historic visit was a smash hit in Havana. Fidel Castro wasn’t going to take that lying down.
Our guides have just won some highly prestigious awards and we want the world to know how proud we are! We operate all Exodus Travels’ Cuba trips and, for the fourth year running, our guides have been highly commended by their clients!
This year our guides have done even better and the lovely Rayselis was overwhelmingly voted Winner of the Exodus Travels Tour Leader Award 2015 ! In addition to this our guides won the Best Overseas Team Award 2015. Votes are gathered for guides from all over the world so winning either award would be a huge vote of confidence for us. To win both awards is amazing!
Well done to Rayselis, Alex and Lazaro and all the Cubania team who work behind the scenes who make winning these awards possible.
Notes and impressions on a momentous week in Cuba ( 20th – 26th March 2016 )
This morning my family and I got off the flight from Havana, gritty eyed and exhausted after witnessing what must be the most important 2 weeks in Cuban history since the Missile Crisis. I’ve been living and working in Cuba for the past 20 years and am married to a Cuban. I’ve become used to the slow pace of life in what was a forgotten island, a sleepy backwater where nothing much happens. All of a sudden Cuba has stepped back into the spotlight and it seems that this is Cuba’s moment. No other week since October 1962 has seen such dramatic change in Cuba’s political and social attitudes.
Havana is no longer frozen in time, at least not completely. With Cuba’s guarded openness to private enterprise grabbing hold, classic American cars and salsa singers now share the cityscape with new and inventive offerings in food, culture, night life and hospitality. No other city in Latin America, or perhaps the world, can claim to be having just the kind of moment that Havana is experiencing now after so many decades of being shut off from the rest of the world.