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.

Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba

In Havana, Cuba, I, Zeb the Duck visited the Plaza of the Revolution.  A huge plaza!

We came mainly to view three major monuments.  The first is to honor Jose Marti.  This monument at 138.5 meters is Havana’s tallest structure.  Jose Marti is a national hero in Cuba.

Monument to Jose Marti

Monument to Jose Marti

Jose Marti helped organize the Cuban Revolutionary Party, laying the groundwork for the Second Independence War with Spain.  Jose Marti was killed early in this war.  He was elevated to the status of martyr in 1895.  In front of Havana’s tallest structure, is a 17-meter statue of Jose Marti seated, in the Thinker position.  This monument has a museum and an elevator that takes you to the top for fantastic views of Havana.

The second monument is on the side of a telecommunications building.  A picture of Camilo Cienfuegos is on the outside of the building with the words, “Vas bien Fidel.”  These words are not always well known to non-Cubans, but were important during the revolution.  The story behind these words is that during a speech by Fidel in 1959, Fidel paused and turned to Camilo Cienfuegos who was standing behind him.  Fidel asked Camilo “Voy bien Camilo”  (Am I doing OK Camilo).  Camilo Cienfuegos replied, “Vas bien Fidel” (You’re doing OK Fidel).

Honoring Camilo Cienfuegos

Honoring Camilo Cienfuegos

About that time someone in the crowd released white doves and one landed on Fidel’s shoulder.  This reinforced the idea that Fidel had received a divine calling.  Soon, “Vas bien Fidel” became a rallying call for the revolution.  Camilo Cienfuegos was very popular with the Cuban people, second only to Fidel Castro.  Camilo Cienfuegos died in a plan crash October 1959, traveling from Camaguey to Havana.  He became one of the earliest martyrs of the revolution.

Monument number three, honoring Che Guevara is on the Ministerio del Interior building.  The huge mural of Che Guevara contains the words “Hasta la Victoria Siempre”  (Always toward Victory).

Honoring Che Guevara

Honoring Che Guevara

Che Guevara, a trained physician, from Argentina, met Raul Castro in Guatemala.  Raul later introduced Che to Fidel Castro in Mexico City in 1955.  The meeting of Che Guevara and Fidel and Raul Castro changed the course of history.  Che Guevara was a definite leader in the Cuban revolution and later helped with other revolutions until his death in October 1967 while he was in Bolivia.

You will notice that I, Zeb the Duck, am not in any of these photos.  The monuments are just too big for a duck.  However I was at the Plaza de la Revolution.

Zeb the Duck, bus driver

Zeb the Duck, bus driver

My job was very important—I drove the bus.