It is going on the last day of the year as I write this. And what a year it’s been! Weather in East Tennessee has been unusually cold of late, even for December, and I know that states to my north have it worse. Put it this way: I’m glad I don’t live in Minnesota right now.
As such, I wanted to feature pics from a place with warm weather 24/7/365. I immediately thought of Cuba, where I was just nine months ago. The island nation, which suffered heavy rains and flooding this past September from Hurricanes Irma and Maria yet recovered quickly, will be forever in my heart. And the grand seaside boulevard of its enticing capital city, Havana’s malecón, is the locale in question for this month’s entry…my last post of 2017.
Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – December 2017”
Last month’s blog post, One Sentence on Each Country, received higher-than-normal readership. Thank you for checking it out, Loyal Readers. I wanted to expand upon that (don’t worry, just a short post this time) by sharing some of my favorite travel memories over the years. A few of these fall into the “profound” category. I am referring to things like seeing the mo’ai heads of Easter Island, or of gazing upon 8,000 Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors in Xi’an.
On the other hand, many of these memories are simple recollections of the little things that make travel so rewarding. For this, I am referring to failed, but somehow amusing, attempts at communication with Russian cabin mates on a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or of the literal hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that I stumbled upon in Salzburg, a place that somehow crisped my pepperoni pizza just right.
In no particular order, here are 25 Great Travel Memories:
Continue reading “25 Great Travel Memories”
Cuba has been in the news these past few days following an announcement from the Trump White House that U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba will be rolled back to pre-Obama levels. This saddens me, although I should clarify that Cuba was never fully open to Americans, anyway. For one thing, American credit and debit cards still do not work in Cuba. For another thing, travel requires a reciprocal visa and is supposed to fall into one of 12 categories (click here for more information, and check back often, as policies are subject to change).
This is all too bad. Cuba is not our enemy, and nor is its leader, Raúl Castro, who took over for his more notorious brother roughly ten years ago. But Raúl has promised to step down in 2018, so who knows what the future brings?
I love Cuba, and it takes at least two hands to count off the number of things I like about the country. Below, after much nostalgic deliberation, is my Cuba top ten:
Continue reading “Top Ten Cuba”
This is pargo. Pargo – snapper, for the non-Spanish speakers reading this – is a common dish for both tourists and locals in Cuba. I mention this distinction because during my travels through Cuba this past March, I learned that the diets for Cubanos and extranjeros are, with a few exceptions, worlds apart.
Continue reading “Cuba: The Food”
I have not, historically speaking, been good at photographing people. From time to time, I’d notice a person during my travels who had that photogenic something that I knew needed to be captured, and – after getting their permission – I would try my best to photograph them, being cognizant of their time and any cultural sensitivities. I always made it a point to show them the picture afterwards, and frequently offered to email them a copy of the image.
The results were mixed, however. That gap-toothed Asian woman along the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall? I captured the smile but didn’t zoom in enough. The curious boy standing near the Istanbul tram that ran through Sultanahmet? He posed, soldier-like, but I forgot to crouch down to his level, and his head appeared the size of a giant pumpkin.
I have gotten better, however. I felt especially brave – and as curious as that young Turkish kid – while exploring Cuba, and snapped dozens upon dozens of pics of Cuban locals going about their business. Fishing, singing, selling, relaxing. The camera gods smiled upon me those three incredible weeks. Here are some of my favorite shots, along with any relevant commentary:
Continue reading “Cuba Photo Gallery: The People”
It has been less than one week since I journeyed from Havana to Mexico City, and it has been just two full days since I returned home to Tennessee from there. I was gone for six weeks, and whenever I settle back in to my normal routine following a trip of similar length, it always feels as if everything “back home” has changed, even though it usually hasn’t.
I am in the early stages of reviewing and labeling the over 6,000 photos that I took during my travels. That is going to take awhile, to put it mildly, but I did eyeball my pics, looking for a few images that were representative of each place I visited. This was, suffice to say, not an easy task. I have much to say about the “real” Cuba, and some strong opinions about “Cuba for tourists” vs. “Cuba for locals.” These stories will manifest themselves in time, and will be interspersed with tales about my first trip back to Mexico since I left there in July, 2014.
But to whet your appetite and to find a starting point for my own storytelling, I thought I’d write just a few paragraphs about Cuba – one per city visited, let’s say – and post a few pictures as well.
Enjoy…and thanks for reading!
Continue reading “A Few Paragraphs about Cuba”