CUBA 2015 PHOTOS

From ruin and decay comes beauty and strength. Cuba is a wonderful and magical place. Its people are resourceful and with the promise of negotiations with the US and the potential lifting of the embargo, I found new hope in the eyes of its residents.

I spent a couple of days in La Habana, but this time I also ventured out into the towns and neighborhoods outside of the city. (Click on each photo for a brief description.)

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Sunday Landscapes: Cuba

Cuba
Cuba

I thought I'd share with you where my mind and heart are this morning. Every time I scroll through my iPhotos I stop at this image and smile. So peaceful and serene. It's from the picturesque country side heading back to Havana from Varadero. I snapped the photo on a sunny Sunday in April. 

I wish everyone a restful and Happy Sunday! xo

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The Beach at Varadero Cuba

Varadero, Cuba
Varadero, Cuba

Varadero is a resort town in the province of Matanzas, about 87 miles east of Havana. It's been rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and after visiting just two short weeks ago, I'll agree! 

We cruised up the coast on the North side of the island in a 1958 Bel Air, rebuilt with a Mercedes Benz engine. Our driver, Osmel was more like a tour guide.

Varadero, Cuba
Varadero, Cuba

About 1M tourists come through Varadero each year but you wouldn't know it. The sand is white, the water crystal clear and the sky as blue as can be. The water was a tad chilly but you soon got over that. And for a Cuban like me who was fortunate to have grown up in the US and has known freedom all my life, being at the place where so many have risked or lost their lives, took on deeper meaning. 

It was fried swordfish and plantain chips for lunch. To wash it down, the 2nd best mojito in Cuba - the best one was at the 18th floor bar at the Capri Hotel. Actually, all the mojitos were fantastic because of the secret ingredient: Cuban rum!

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The Classic Cars of Cuba

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These cars are works of art. Someone recently told me that classic cars aren't too common in Cuba anymore, well, I hope the same fool is reading this now because he couldn't be more wrong!

They are everywhere.

Most of them have been converted to diesel engines for economic reasons and while the shell of the vehicle is original, the motors have been rebuilt with Nissan parts, Mercedes Benz and others. They have to be maintained weekly so they keep running and renting a taxi classic is cheap cheap cheap.

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For real - check out this engine. To be fair, this engine is extra sexy because this car is used for racing and showing off.

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classic-cars-cuba-fashionado

We heard this car before even laying eyes upon it. The car enthusiasts gathered around began yelling "por ahi viene Cruella!" [here comes Cruella!] They recognized the zoom from a distance. Cruella is the fastest hot rod on the island.

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classic-cars-cuba-hotel-nacional-fashionado

Pink convertibles were quite popular. This was was cruising down El Malecon with the Hotel Nacional as it's backdrop.

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classic-cars-cuba-fashionado

I love this - a 1950's Ford Victoria, painted in a matte black with Mustang rims and Porsche brakes. Need I say more...

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classic-cars-cuba-fashionado

We arrived at the Hotel Nacional in grand style in a 1950 yellow convertible. We cruised around El Malecon and Central Havana for an hour in this beauty.

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classic-cars-cuba-fashionado
classic-cars-cuba-fashionado
classic-cars-cuba-fashionado

This is a 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air. It's owner, Osmel, replaced the original engine with a Mercedes Benz and you could feel the difference. We rode two hours up the coast to Varadero in this sweet car.

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This is my father's Jeep and there's a great story here. It doesn't look it but this Jeep is from the 1950's! My dad modified and rebuilt it based on photos of a Jeep from the 1980's he found in a brochure. Yeah, I've got a cool dad.

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classic-cars-cuba-vincent-martinez-gil-guillama-fashionado

And finally...

Gil and I thinking we're hot... 

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