Voy A Cuba – Day 6

June 20, 2017

2nd Day in Cuba

And now for the CARS ….

My first car was a blue 1953 Ford Mainliner, 2 door, 6 cylinder, stick. One of the first cars I spotted was a 1953 Ford. It was a 4 door and not blue, but, close enough.

When I was in the Air Force. I had a 1956 T-Bird. It got me to and from Las Vegas and to and from Nebraska many times. One of my fondest memories is picking up my brother Mike when he was in the Veteran’s hospital in Denver. We went to the horse races along with with my sister Kathy. Mike loved the T-Bird. (I still don’t know how we got 3 people into this two-seater).

This is a 1957 Bird, but, again, close enough.

More cars ….

Plaza de Cubala Revolución:

The Plaza is 31st largest city square in the world, measuring 72,000 square meters.

The square is notable as being where many political rallies take place and Fidel Castro and other political figures address Cubans. Fidel Castro addressed more than a million Cubans on many important occasions, such as 1 May and 26 July each year. Pope John Paul II, during his 1998 first visit by a Pope, and Pope Francis in 2015, held large Masses there during papal visits to Cuba.

The square is dominated by the José Martí Memorial, which features a 109 m (358 ft) tall tower and an 18 m (59 ft) statue. The National Library, many government ministries, and other buildings are located in and around the Plaza. Located behind the memorial is the Palace of the Revolution, the seat of the Cuban government and Communist Party. Opposite the memorial are the offices of the Ministries of the Interior and Communications, whose facades feature matching steel memorials of the two most important deceased heroes of the Cuban Revolution: Che Guevara, with the quotation “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” (Until the Everlasting Victory, Always) and Camilo Cienfuegos (sometimes mistaken for Fidel Castro), with the quotation “Vas bien, Fidel” (You’re doing fine, Fidel). It is also the site of several cultural institutions.

Construction of the square and the José Martí monument commenced during the Presidency of Fulgencio Batista. The square and the memorial were completed in 1959 (the year Fidel Castro came to power). It was originally called Plaza Cívica (Civic Square). After the Cuban Revolution (1959), it was renamed “Plaza de la Revolución” or “Revolution Square.” An elevator allows access the top of the memorial, at 109 m one of the tallest points in the city.

Here is the home of the Cuban hero Che Guevara. We were not allowed to go into the house:



Voy A Cuba – Day 5

June 19, 2017

Havana, Cuba

Here is the view of the harbor in Havana as the ship was docking:

This is Christ of Havana (Spanish: Cristo de La Habana), a large sculpture representing Jesus of Nazareth on a hilltop overlooking the bay in Havana, Cuba. It is the work of the Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera, who won the commission for it in 1953. The sculpture is 66 feet tall.

He let me take a selfie:

If you have been reading my posts, you know that I am fascinated by cemeteries, especially very old ones. Havana has one of the oldest and most elaborate cemeteries in the western hemisphere. If you are interested, you can get more information at:


Here are some pictures.

Below is the guy who conducted the tour of the cemetery. I don’t know if t was just an act or if he was really sincere, but he actually broke down in tears when he described some of the things that happen at this cemetery. Cubans are very religious and very superstitious.

There are 40 burials here every single day. Cuba is a communist country and the government takes care of you from the “cradle to the grave”. If you are a Cuban, you do not pay when you are born and you do not pay when you die. I am not going to get into the “socialism vs. capitalism” discussion here. I will just say that, based on my very limited experience in the country, the Cuban people appeared to be happy and very satisfied with their system. This guy certainly was.

Here is one of the stories he told:

The most visited grave is the flower-bedecked tomb of Amelia Goyri de Hoz, revered as La Milagrosa (The Miraculous One, Calles 3 y F) and to whom the superstitious ascribe miraculous healings. According to legend, she died during childbirth in 1901 and was buried with her stillborn child at her feet. When her sarcophagus was later opened, the baby was supposedly cradled in her arms. Ever since, believers have paid homage by knocking three times on the tombstone with one of its brass rings, before touching the tomb and requesting a favor (one must not turn one’s back on the tomb when departing). Many childless women pray here in hopes of a pregnancy.

NOTE: While we were on the tour, a pregnant woman actually came to this grave, knocked on the tombstone and left flowers, then backed away as he described. She was crying the whole time. I am a skeptic at heart and could not help but wonder if this was just staged for the tour, but Who Knows? I don’t.

If you go to Cuba, one of the things you have to do is buy (and try) Cuban cigars. For over half a century, it has been illegal to purchase these cigars, so maybe the wanting them is greater than the having them. I do not know, but I did purchase a few cigars. Later on, I will post a picture with me smoking one.

If you have gotten this far and are still reading this blog and you want to try a Cuban cigar, send me an email. I have a limited supply and no intention of smoking them. I will be happy to send you one to try. First come, first served.



Voy A Cuba – Day 3

June 18, 2017

Key West, Florida.

Here is what Channel 14 showed this morning as we were getting closer to Key West. We are scheduled to arrive at 12:30 PM.

I will be taking an “Excursion” around the city. Here is how that excursion is described:

Enjoy a walking tour through old town Key West and visit Hemingway’s former house and Sloppy Joe’s Bar. A stroll through the city teaches you about the Truman Little White House, Bahama Village, the Straw Market and the Key West Lighthouse. Savor the flavors of Key West with a trio of tantalizing temptations – seafood, salsa and KeyLime pie, all served with helpings of ambiance and fun. Enjoy savory samples at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon and Peppers of Key West topped off with a visit to Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe.”

Sounds good  – Right?



Arriving in Key West

Closer View

The Empress looks pretty big, but it is actually the smallest cruise ship I have taken so far:

I saw this sign on a street in Key West. If I ever get a tattoo, this is what it is going to say (I do not dance):

Most of you are too young to have any idea what this statue represents. If you want to know just Google “V-J Day in Times Square”

90 more miles to get to Cuba:

Here is a selfie with me and the 33rd president, Harry Truman. You can Google “Key West Little White House” if you are interested in learning the city’s connection with Truman.

Now a selfie with Earnest Hemingway and myself. (I have read all of his novels and short stories):

Here are some pictures from my time in Key West:

A Restaurant/Bar named after me (the first Sloppy Joe’s):

This was the place with all the spices. They gave us samples numbered from 1 to 10 with 10 being the hottest. One by one, people stopped tasting the samples. When we got to #10 there were only two of us left – me and a guy from Italy. I had to defend the honor of my country, so I stayed in the contest. We both tried #10.

I don’t know about the Italiano, but it took about 4 hours for my vision to stop being blurred and for my tongue to stop burning … one of those things you do once and never again.

Key Lime Pie was invented in Key West. They have several versions. I tried the frozen one dipped in chocolate:

Next Stop – Havana, Cuba

Voy A Cuba – Day 2

June 17, 2017

Tampa Bay, Florida

OK. Here’s the deal. I was in the Air Force for 4 years. One of the things I liked about the military was their sense of discipline. For example, at the base movie theatre , if a movie started at 8 PM, they shut the doors at 8 PM. If you showed up at 8:01 PM, you were out of luck. I liked that. I don’t believe I have ever been late for work or any appointment or meeting in my life. I always show up on time.

I have noticed that the Cruise Lines (at least the ones I have been on so far) have that same kind of discipline. They publish a schedule every day and, by golly, they strictly stick to that schedule. Today, the schedule said we were leaving Tampa Bay on our way to Key West at 4:00 PM. At precisely 4:00 PM, you could feel the engines starting up and you could look out the window and see we were moving.

Here is a picture of us leaving Tampa Bay and heading for Key West (at precisely 4:00 PM).

Before any cruise starts, they have a mandatory meeting of all passengers to go over the safety procedures. Here is the staff monitor for my area showing how to put on the life vest in case the ship hits an iceberg and you end up in freezing water hanging on to a door next to Kate Winslet. Oh wait! That was another ship. Never mind.

Channel 14 on your TV shows you where you are in the world:

Voy A Cuba – Day 1

June 16, 2017

Well the day has finally arrived. Today I fly to Tampa Bay, Florida to start the cruise to Cuba that I have been planning for some time. It appears my timing was good because it looks like our president is going to start restricting the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba again. I may be among the first and last from the U.S. to visit the island country.

We set sail at 4:00 pm tomorrow. The first stop on the cruise is Key West Florida.

If you are interested in following my trip, come back later. As usual, I will be posting pictures of what I am seeing and doing.


ADDENDUM – Good news. I just got an email from the Cruise company saying the president’s change of policy will NOT affect my cruise. Great!

Voy a Cuba (I’m Going to Cuba)

February 20, 2017

For a long time now I have been wanting to go to Cuba. When Fidel Castro turned that island into a communist state, the US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba and imposed an embargo. Travel there was almost impossible.

Things have changed and Americans can now visit Cuba. In June, I plan to be among the first to visit that country. I am taking a cruise from Tampa, Florida to Key West, Florida, then on to Havana, Cuba.

When the embargo was imposed in 1960, it became illegal to import certain products to Cuba. Most famously, the Cubans could not purchase automobiles or automobile parts. As a result, in Cuba today you will not find an American car that is newer than 1960. They do have newer cars, but they are Russian, Chinese or Korean. (Can you say booooring?)

Is is as if time has stood still and you can go back in time 56 years. I think seeing 1960 again is one of the main reasons I want to visit Cuba. You see, I was actually alive in 1960.

For those of you who were not around in 1960, I believe it would be even more amazing since you would be actually going to a place and time that you had never experienced before except maybe in the movies (not the same). Come back here when my trip is over and I will tell you if I think it be be worth it for you to go.

Stay tuned for more details.