Thursday, January 19, 2017

Life Turns to a New Direction

This is a very hard post to write.  Three weeks ago, my life changed in an instant.  No real warning, no time to prepare, no time to do anything but focus on the new firehose of reality that was now rapidly propelling me in a totally new direction.

I know lots of travels and photos have transpired between my last blog post (my summer volunteer ranger gig at Bryce Canyon National Park last summer) and now.  I hope to fill those gaps with backdated posts in the coming weeks as I get the time/energy.  

But this post may very well end up being my last, chronologically speaking.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trinidad, Cienfuegos & Varadero

After a quick overnight stay at Mariel's Casa Particular in Havana, we headed back to the Havana Libre hotel for our 7:00am bus to Trinidad.  It was another Transtur bus, so of course it was 45 minutes late, but at least this time it was not full and I had both seats to myself to stretch out.

The trip to Trinidad took 6 hours, but the bus stopped at 2 tourist rest stops for passengers to use the restrooms, eat lunch, and stretch our legs, so the trip was enjoyable.

Most of the scenery from Havana to Cienfuegos was rural and undeveloped except for various sugar cane fields dotting the highway.  The scenery became more hilly and spectacular between Cienfuegos and Trinidad as we drove through the Parque Natural Topes de Collantes--

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cuba's Viñales Valley

After 5 nights in one UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Havana, we were now ready to explore some of Cuba's other UNESCO sites-- the tobacco plantations of Viñales Valley, and the historic towns of Trinidad and Cienfuegos.  As these locations are hours away from each other, we decided to take one of Cuba's tourist bus lines to get us there.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Streets of Havana

We spent a total of 5 days in old Havana.  Most of our time was spent wandering the streets and photographing the people, colorful old cars, and crumbling colonial architecture.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Historic Days in Havana

For our first morning in Havana, we decided to have the breakfast provided by casa owners Lili and Manolo.  This is a common way for casa owners to make some extra money, and most provide a fairly filling breakfast for US$5/each consisting of eggs, juice, coffee, fruit, bread, and lunchmeat.

When we arrived to Lili and Manolo's apartment, the TV was on and Manolo seemed absolutely glued to it while Lili began to serve us our breakfast.  Even with our language barrier, within a few seconds, we learned why-- Fidel Castro had just died a few hours ago.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Havana Hell-o

When Hans and Ursula asked months ago if I'd like to travel to Cuba with them for a few weeks during our winter in Mexico, my mind envisioned colorful buildings and 1950's cars, stiff mojitos, the aromatic smell of cigar smoke, rhythmic mambo bands, and lots of palm trees.  It sounded idyllic!  Before we left Colorado in October, we also watched a few Cuba travel DVDs, and they too pumped up our excitement about visiting this exotic destination, long forbidden to American travelers.

Cuba turned out to be all those things, but its daily reality was sometimes far from what the idyllic travel DVDs and guide books portrayed.  This would rarely always be a 3-week vacation in paradise.

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