Cuba at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck visited the Cuba exhibit.

Cuba exhibit

But where is Cuba?

Where is Cuba?

Cuba, the largest Caribbean Island nation, is only 94 miles (150 km) from our state of Florida.   But for many decades Americans could not visit this tropical island.   Cuba and the United States have very serious political and economic differences so travel between the countries has been prohibited or restricted since the 1960s.   This exhibit at our museum looks like a main street in Havana, Cuba.

Havana street

You will see store fronts, small businesses and Cuban people.   And the cars.

Old US car

Cubans still have old cars from the United States.   Those built in the 1950s and early 1960s.   The Cuban people have developed incredible mechanical skills.   They cannot get original parts for replacements, so they improvise.   The automobiles still run and are in great condition.   These large American cars are very popular as Cuban taxis now.   In recent years, Americans have been able to visit Cuba on approved tours, if requirements are met.   I, Zeb the Duck, and mom visited Cuba in December 2013.   The exhibit in Denver shows many things we saw on the streets of Havana.   Cars are scarce and very expensive in Cuba, so bicycle taxis are also popular.

Bicycle taxi

Many Cuban people ride bicycles and many others walk wherever they need to go.   The food is delicious.

Cuban food

We, Zeb and Soapy, would like to sample these, but mom said no.    Many of the coral reefs in the Caribbean are sick or dying, but the Gardens of the Queen Reef is healthy.

Cuba’s coral reef

The fish around the reef are beautiful.  The two main crops of Cuba are sugar cane and tobacco.

Tobacco shop in Havana

This is a tobacco shop.   The hand rolled Cuban cigars are among the best in the world.   Often you will hear music in Havana.

Cuban musicians

Many musicians will sit on the street, against a building and play.   The music is wonderful and the Cuban people appear to be happy, always with a smile on their face.  They love to play games.

Let’s play Dominos

Men playing Dominos along the street or in plazas are also common.   There is much more to this exhibit.   The wetlands, southeast of Havana, on the southern coast is definitely worth a visit.   There is also a display recognizing Cuban immigrants in Denver.   If you want to see this exhibit, you need to hurry.   It will only be here until Sunday, January 13, 2019.   While at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, take time to see the IMAX film, Cuba.

IMAX film about Cuba

The film features a man who dedicated his life to preserving Cuba’s old architecture and a young ballet student.   The largest ballet school in the world is located in Havana.   And the film features Cuba’s coral reefs and discovers why Cuba’s reef is much healthier than others in the Caribbean.  We hope you visit this exhibit this week.   And visit other museums near your home also.   You will find something interesting.

Havana, Cuba with Chanel the Bear

I, Zeb the Duck, want to share with you the photos Chanel the Bear sent from her Cuban cruises.   Chanel and her mom, a Tour Manager, are approaching Havana, Cuba now.

Hotel National in Havana from cruise ship

The National Hotel in Havana is old and was a favorite of American tourists in the 1950’s.   We stayed here when we visited Cuba with Chanel and her mom in December 2013.   The history, not only the famous American actors, sports figures and others that stayed here, but the canons and evidence of the missile crisis between the United States and Cuba in the early 1960’s, is vast and fascinating.   Chanel docks in Havana now and takes us with her.   We go to the home of José Fuster, a prolific artist.

Jose Fuster’s Fusterlandia near Havana

He has decorated his courtyard, his outer wall, and much of the neighborhood.   It is a fascinating place.   Isn’t this classic car, in front of Fusterlandia fantastic?

Classic car near Fusterlandia

We love it!  And here is a horse cart.

Horse cart near Fusterlandia

Cuba is such a fun place to visit.   Heading back to Old Havana, we stop to mail a card at this mailbox at the post office.

Mailbox at the post office in Old Havana, Cuba

Continuing our visit of Havana, we watch this dance group near San Francisco Square in Havana.

Dance group near San Francisco Square, Havana, Cuba

Chanel, thank you so much for the photos.   What fun you must be having and your photos bring great memories for us and all who have visited Cuba.   Next time we will see more of Chanel’s photos.

Chanel the Bear Cruises Around Cuba

My friend, Chanel the Bear, has been traveling a lot this year.   In March she and her mom, the Tour Manager, led two different groups on cruises around, and stopping in, Cuba.   Chanel’s mom is a Tour Manager for Friendly Planet tour company.   Chanel and her mom flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica and stayed in a resort for a night.

From resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica

They met their first group and boarded Celestyal Crystal ship on Celestyal Cruise line.   Jamaica is near the southern coast of Cuba, so the first cruise port is Santiago de Cuba, an old city on Cuba’s southern coast.   For a few years, Santiago de Cuba was the capital of Cuba.   Havana was then named the capital and has remained so since 1607.   The African Cultural Center was wonderful.

African Cultural Center in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Santiago de Cuba is close to Jamaica and also to Haiti, so these countries had an influence on southeastern Cuba.   I, Zeb the Duck, really liked these photos from the African Cultural Center.

African Cultural Center in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

And look at this ferris wheel near Loma de San Juan, also in Santiago de Cuba.

Ferris wheel near Loma de San Juan, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

It would be so much fun.   And here is Loma de San Juan in Santiago de Cuba.

Loma de San Juan in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

This is the famous San Juan Hill where in 1898 future American President Teddy Roosevelt, reportedly led a calvary charge, with the famous Rough Riders up San Juan Hill, defeating the Spanish.  Chanel visited Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba.

Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Fidel Castro formerly lived and studied here in Santiago de Cuba.   We believe Fidel Castro would have given many speeches near Revolution Square.    Chanel’s last stop in Santiago de Cuba was El Morro Castle.

El Morro Castle, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

El Morro Castle was built between 1590 and 1610 as a defense against raiding pirates.   There were 4 main levels and 3 large bulwarks to house the artillery.   El Morro survived attacks, but was damaged by several earthquakes.   El Morro was restored during the 1960’s and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.   Chanel, thank you so much for the great photos.   I especially enjoyed them because when mom and I went to Cuba with you, we did not visit Santiago de Cuba.   We look forward to more photos from your next port in Cuba.

Photos from Havana from Channel the Bear

My friend, Channel the Bear, sent photos to me, Zeb the Duck.   Channel and her mom just returned from a couple weeks in Cuba.   Havana, Cuba has great statues.   Here Channel found a friendly arm for a temporary resting place.

Channel in Old Havana

Channel in Old Havana

The shiny leg indicates that others also found this statue to be a good stopping place.   This statue makes us all smile.

Channel by another statue in Old Havana

Channel by Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s squire, in Old Havana

This is Sancho Panza from the famous story of Don Quixote.   We like this statue and Channel just makes the photos great.   Here my friend, Channel, is sitting on a window ledge.

Channel

Channel

She looks so Cuban.   We love it.   After a day of exploring Old Havana, humans and bears get hungry and thirsty.   Channel and her mom are in El Floridita, one of Havana’s historic and favorite restaurants.

Channel with statue of Ernest Hemingway in El Floridita in Havana

Channel with statue of Ernest Hemingway in El Floridita in Havana

This restaurant first opened in 1817.   In 1914 Constantino Ribalaigua Vert began working here.   By 1918 he was the owner.   But most important, in the early 1930s, as a bartender, he is credited with inventing the frozen daiquiri.   Channel, I hope you and your mom tried one of these famous beverages.   My mom tells me they are really tasty and refreshing.    But humans should not have too many of them at one time.   When Ernest Hemingway was in Cuba, this restaurant was a favorite hangout of his.   Maybe he came here just to see Channel?  Thanks for the photos, Channel.   They remind us of the great time we had in Cuba with you a few years ago.   We think it is great that your mom is a tour director and you go there often.   Thanks Channel.

More Photos from Cuba

Zeb the Duck here.   My friend, Channel the Bear, was in Cuba again.   She and her mom go often.   Her mom is a travel guide to Cuba for Friendly Planet.    Channel is sitting on a canon at the Hotel Nacional in Havana.

Channel on a canon at Havana, Cuba's Hotel Nacional.

Channel on a canon at Havana, Cuba’s Hotel Nacional.

When I was there, this was my favorite hotel in Havana.   In the 1950’s, before Fidel Castro took power, this was the hotel for the rich and famous Americans.   They still have great old photographs there.    This is a restaurant in Havana, and that large building behind is the Hotel Nacional.

California Café in Havana, Cuba with Hotel Nacional in background.

California Café in Havana, Cuba with Hotel Nacional in background.

The California Café name says the Americans have not been forgotten.   This last photo is the famous Varadero Beach.

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Varadero Beach, Cuba.   Beautiful Caribbean Sea.

This is great Channel.   When we were in Cuba, we were not allowed here.   It is beautiful.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, hope you will go to Cuba soon to see what it is like now.   Cuba may be opening up to American tourism.   We understand that Carnival Cruise line has a subsidiary company that will begin cruises to Cuba twice a month.   The cruises may begin early May.   Go soon, before it changes.   We loved the friendly Cuban people and we think you will too.   Thank you Channel for these great photos.

Cuba with Channel the Bear

I hope you remember my friend Channel, the cute little brown bear.   Last year Channel and I, Zeb the Duck, visited Cuba with our moms.   Channel’s mom was the tour guide for our group.   Channel and her mom were in Cuba again in January and they sent us some photos.

Channel is sitting on this chair at Las Terrazas, near Havana.

Las Terrazas is a perfect place to sit in the rocking chair.

Las Terrazas is a perfect place to sit in the rocking chair.

Las Terrazas began in 1968 as a small ecological experiment and is now a recognized Biosphere Reserve. This is a tajona, or grinding stone,

Channel on the talon

Channel on the talon

and was used to grind coffee bean, also at Las Terrazas.

I liked this picture from Muraleando in Havana.

Great statue, Channel

Great statue, Channel

Two local artists, Manuel (Manolo) Diaz Baldrich and Ernesto Quirch Paz started teaching art in a school.   Soon there was a scheduling conflict and the artists began teaching outside on the street.   This area, Muraleando, is now a community development project.

Channel and her mom at Muraleando, in Havana

Channel and her mom at Muraleando, in Havana

This one is also great.   For more information about Muraleando, visit www.muraleando.org

Here they are at Hemmingway’s house, Finca Vigia, near Havana in the fishing village of Cojimar, the inspiration for the fishing village in The Old Man and the Sea.

Channel and her mom by a classic car, used as a taxi.   Enjoy the ride, Channel

Channel and her mom by a classic car, used as a taxi. Enjoy the ride, Channel

Isn’t this a great taxi??

When Channel was in Trinidad, Cuba she talked to this young boy.

Nice boy and love the cobblestone street

Nice boy and love the cobblestone street

Also in Trinidad, there was a cultural festival.

Festival in Trinidad, Cuba

Festival in Trinidad, Cuba

This looks like fun.

Walking on stilts for the festival in Trinidad, Cuba

Walking on stilts for the festival in Trinidad, Cuba

If you have not already read them, you may enjoy my photos and stories from Cuba.   I hope you check them out.

Thanks for sending these wonderful pictures, Channel.   I know you had a great time visiting Cuba again!

Reflections of Cuba by Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck, am back at the airport in Havana, Cuba.

We are in Havana, Cuba

We are in Havana, Cuba

As I wait for my plane to Miami, I pause to reflect on my Cuban adventure.  I met many very nice people.  I liked my group of human travelers.  As expected they were all very experienced travelers eager to explore a new place and adaptable if the planned schedule was changed.  I also met very nice, friendly people living in Cuba.

I remember narrow streets with old buildings.

Narrow streets with wonderful old buildings

Narrow streets with wonderful old buildings

Many horse carts,

Horse cart

Horse with cart

many bicycles, many people walking, some classic American cars

Classic cars as taxis

Classic cars as taxis

and some new,

New smaller taxis

New smaller taxis

small taxis.

The school children were wearing uniforms.

Their uniforms look nice

Their uniforms look nice

We stopped at a ballet school and saw them practice.

Wow!

Wow!

While we brought gifts to the senior center, we enjoyed the dancing and music and the people gave us a gift also.

Zeb with new hat

Zeb with new hat

I think I look pretty good in my hat.

As a yellow rubber duck, people were curious about me and many became my friends.

Zeb's new best friend

Zeb’s new best friend

These decorated cakes are examples of art and attention to detail.

Look so yummy

Look so yummy

Bet they taste good too.

Cuba has many statues; some large and some smaller bronze statues.

Statue of friar near Havana's Plaza Vieja

Statue of friar near Havana’s Plaza Vieja

It appears that they remember and honor many people.

This man was so nice and I was fascinated as he made sugar cane juice.

Made fresh sugar cane juice

Made fresh sugar cane juice

I remember shopping in the market in Havana.

Indoor market in Havana

Indoor market in Havana

I remember music everywhere.

Musicians playing in Trinidad

Musicians playing in Trinidad

After dinner one evening, many in our human group learned some Cuban dance steps

After dinner dance lessons

After dinner dance lessons

and many danced after the lesson.

I remember and admire the art, the color, the talent and most of all, the smiles and

Our new friends

Our new friends

friendliness of the Cuban people.   Our governments may have differences, but the friendly people of Cuba and the United States get along well.

Such colorful dresses

Such colorful dresses

I am so glad that we visited Cuba.  If you want to see Cuba, check out http://www.friendlyplanet.com and see what they offer.  There are other tour companies that offer people to people tours.  We decided to travel with Friendly Planet and enjoyed it.  I hope you will visit Cuba soon.

Alejandro, our local guide, enjoying a Cuban cigar.

Alejandro, our local guide, enjoying a Cuban cigar.

Connie our Friendly Planet guide and Santos our driver with Zeb the Duck

Connie our Friendly Planet guide and Santos our driver with Zeb the Duck

It is time to board the plane and return to Miami.  I have more adventures planned with Soapy Smith Duck, my Alaska cousin will send Alaska updates and JB Duck is also traveling.  Please check here to see what we do and tell us about your adventures, away from home and in your home town.