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Old 06-28-2013, 04:50 AM   #1171
mikegc
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Originally Posted by elnonio View Post
"Cuba is wearing us thin.

Felt the same in Cambodia once. Hang in there. !

Elnorino, I felt the same way about Cambodia back in the Spring of 1970.

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Old 06-28-2013, 05:12 AM   #1172
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Thank you for sharing your photos and travels of my parent's "home" country but which I have yet to see. Amazing, simply amazing, but not surprising.

Any personal thoughts/opinions as to the government that is in place there? It is the reason why they never went back nor took us to visit.

Thanks again and continued safe travels.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:23 AM   #1173
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Thanks for the update!

Great pictures. It's still beautiful now, but in it's hay day it must have been something too!
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:03 PM   #1174
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Eh Eh Eh I like that... Chino

Thanks for sharing...

Enjoy Cuba
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:14 PM   #1175
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I'm glad you are visiting Cuba, now I won't have to
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Old 06-30-2013, 11:41 AM   #1176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oalvarez View Post
Any personal thoughts/opinions as to the government that is in place there? It is the reason why they never went back nor took us to visit.
I don't think any local would publicly criticize the government to a tourist, given the harsh penalties for dissidence. That kind of talk would be reserved for behind closed doors.

From what we saw from the outside looking in, the government has a stranglehold on media and propaganda, furthering the socialist agenda and mythologizing Che and Fidel. We saw such a contradiction in educating a people to such a degree and then subjecting them to the most blatant of Orwellian social programming. However, the government has changed a lot in the last 5 years since Raul took over from Fidel, softening its stance on travel, technology and business ownership. I wonder what kind of Cuba we would have seen had we visited 10-15 years ago -- and also what Cuba will be in 5-10 years from now, especially after Fidel's death. Such a fascinating and frustrating country to travel through, but I'm so glad we got to experience it first-hand.

If your parents were part of the social class that was exiled in the late 50s/60s, then they would obviously harbor deep-seated resentment towards Fidel. These people had their businesses and lives taken away from them, and in extreme cases watched their friends and family executed if they resisted La Revolucion.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:38 AM   #1177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elnonio View Post
"Cuba is wearing us thin. I can tell that I've lost my humour and we're spending more time sequestered away in our room than out exploring. I don't think we're normally this sensitive to being hustled, but we've been on the road for almost a year now and travel fatigue is setting in."
Time for a holiday away from the holiday. We know that feeling.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:24 AM   #1178
oalvarez
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
I don't think any local would publicly......

From what we saw from the outside looking in, the government has a stranglehold on media and propaganda, furthering the socialist agenda and mythologizing Che and Fidel. We saw such a contradiction in educating a people to such a degree and then subjecting them to the most blatant of Orwellian social programming.

If your parents were part of the social class that was exiled in the late 50s/60s, then they would obviously harbor deep-seated resentment towards Fidel. These people had their businesses and lives taken away from them, and in extreme cases watched their friends and family executed if they resisted La Revolucion.
In short, and to stay on track, your opinion is one my family shares (borderline brainwashed society). Yes, my folks left during that time, my father a prisoner in the famed El Morro shown in one of your photos.

Thanks again for sharing and taking the time to respond.

Regards,
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:03 AM   #1179
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/97.html



Where are there no Jineteros? Let's go there.

Vinales is in small farming community in the eastern province of Pinar Del Rio and we're told that there's very little hustling there. So we jump on our bikes, head to the Autopista and make a beeline to the heart of tobacco country.


Along the way we run into our good buddy, Che


Parking at our casa is a tight fit even with the bags off


This wasn't a tight fit - the helmet could have done an exorcist swivel on his head!

Vinales is quite a sleepy community, in contrast to the busy city of Pinar Del Rio to the south. Lots of people hang out on their porches here in the evening, we felt very comfortable in this bucolic setting, taking strolls up and down the main street every night, unmolested by hustlers.


Walking around the neighbourhood in Vinales

Whenever we travel, I find myself becoming enamoured with the local vehicles. When we were in Baja California, I dreamed of driving around in an old rust-red VW Beetle w/ a dune-buggy kit: exposed chrome engine in the back, big knobby tires, jacked up suspension and loud fog-lights. In Cuba, I think it would the coolest to drive around in a mean black and chrome '56 Chevy Belair!


The triangular-roofed house is a drying shed for tobacco leaves

We booked a tour of one of the tobacco farms one morning and the owner, Juan took us around his fields, showing us how tobacco is farmed and harvested. Due to the soil and the microclimate here, the Vinales Valley is one of the best places to grow tobacco and makes the finest cigars in Cuba. The area is surrounded by limestone mountains which have eroded over time, giving them their steep slopes with flat tops. We've seen much artwork depicting these mountains, which are synonymous with the valley.


Thousands of tobacco leaves hanging in the drying house like bats in a cave


Neda learns everything there is to know about tobacco farming from Juan, then translates it (and dumbs it down) for me

Cuba has a low-input agricultural industry, choosing to use manual labour and ox-driven ploughs instead of costlier gasoline-powered farming equipment - necessary because of their isolation from the outside world. We've seen examples of this all over the country, and we've also seen some artwork that is critical of Fidel's policies for energy-efficiency while ignoring more important issues. We saw a painting of a huge pressure-cooker with a small starving child leaning up against it and later found out that in the 90s, Fidel had given every household these energy-efficient appliances to reduce the usage of inefficient stoves. However, the population had no rice to cook with!


And then Juan Valdez shows up and asks if we want to try the richest coffee in the world?


Soil here is a rich red colour and is perfect for growing the finest tobacco for cigars


Tobacco leaves ready to be made into cigars

Juan passed us over to another farmer (his name was Juan as well!) who had a drying house set up with leaves soaked in a rum, lime, honey and mint - the exact same ingredients that you use to make a mojito. This Juan explained to us the process in how to select leaves for the different types of cigars - the darker leaves are more stronger and are used to make the Montecristos, while the lighter leaves are used to make the milder Romeo y Juliet cigars. Also the tobacco is concentrated in the spines of the leaves.


Rolling a fresh cigar for us

We watched Juan roll a fresh cigar from different types of leaves, sealed it with some honey and offered it to us. We've never smoked a cigar in our lives, so Juan found it quite funny when I coughed up a lung after deeply inhaling some of the thick cigar smoke. So apparently you have to make like Clinton and not inhale, just puff.


Juan is busting a gut laughing at my attempts to puff on a cigar

Neda and just shared one cigar but after a few minutes of trying to perfect my Schwartzenneger Puff, I felt a bit lightheaded and had to take a break. Juan laughed at me a bit more. Meanwhile, Neda was going gangbusters on the rest of the cigar and was already making plans to buy a whole box back in town. Jeez...


Neda has mastered the art of the puff
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:25 PM   #1180
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:54 PM   #1181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elnonio View Post
"Cuba is wearing us thin. I can tell that I've lost my humour and we're spending more time sequestered away in our room than out exploring. I don't think we're normally this sensitive to being hustled, but we've been on the road for almost a year now and travel fatigue is setting in."
Lake Atitlan, Guat. is a great place to kick back for a month or so and chill.
....however you need to understand that the rainy is about to kick in hard in Central America and that is hot, humid and mud till next late fall.

Maybe look again at Jay's rain guide too give you some insight:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=556240

ps. digging the cigars!
sounds like you've found a more chill place to hang.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:58 PM   #1182
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Gene and Neda,
Oaxaca might be a good home base for a while....less crime than Lake Atitlan and better food...
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Old 07-02-2013, 03:04 PM   #1183
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Gene and Neda,
Oaxaca might be a good home base for a while....less crime than Lake Atitlan and better food...
indeed Oaxaca city is a great place to enjoy too. high enough to escape the humidity but it still rains. i lived in Guanajuato in the summer and that was also at elevation yet also was far enough north to be mostly dry too in the summer.
i'd say anywhere south of Mexico City sees more and more rain in the summer with countries like Costa Rica getting deluged.

if they go south Cali, Colombia is a great place to park for a bit.
summer is drier season from Jay's chart. Motolombia is in Cali
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=423023

guess their decision now is whether to go to SA or CA or the boat ride option may force that hand.
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Old 07-02-2013, 03:26 PM   #1184
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I got the feeling that, since Cuba doesn't really have much in the way of Internet access, this part of the ride report is being told after the fact.

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Old 07-03-2013, 04:35 AM   #1185
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Lovely photography and great report. What camera and lens do you use?
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