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.

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.

John Lennon Park in Havana

John Lennon, the Beatles and their music were banned in Cuba during Lennon’s lifetime.  John Lennon is in Havana now and sits in a park named for him.

Bronze of John Lennon in Havana, Cuba

Bronze of John Lennon in Havana, Cuba

Fidel Castro dedicated the statue of the former Beatle December 8, 2000, 20 years after Lennon’s murder.

A security guard watches the statue of Lennon sitting on a bench.  Lennon’s distinctive glasses were previously stolen, so now the guard holds the glasses and will put them on Lennon if asked.

John Lennon's security guard is my new friend

John Lennon’s security guard is my new friend

When I, Zeb the Duck, visited this statue, there was a line of tourists waiting to have their pictures taken with Lennon.  As you can see, I waited for my turn.

WOW!  I am sitting with John Lennon

WOW! I am sitting with John Lennon

Near the monument to Lennon is a cultural center and club, appropriately named the Yellow Submarine.

Too bad we didn't have time to go inside.  Looks fun.

Too bad we didn’t have time to go inside. Looks fun.

The Yellow Submarine in Havana, Cuba

The Yellow Submarine in Havana, Cuba

I, Zeb the Duck, like the statue and I liked this park.  I think you would like this park, too.  The John Lennon Park is located near the corner of streets 17th and 6th in the Vedado area of Havana.  When you go, smile at the friendly gentleman that keeps John’s glasses.