Adventures in Cuba – Part 2

March 18, 2015

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Here is more on-site news about Christina’s recent trip to Cuba and her observations concerning fashion, food and flashy “Yank Tanks” that everyone finds so intriguing.

WHAT’S THE LATEST FASHION IN CUBA?

On balance, I’d say that the ladies opt for basic essentials such as jeans, pants or shorts paired with T-shirts and other kinds of tops. And, bowing to the Latin look, everything is worn to enhance the female figure. It’s a free, uninhibited approach to clothing that eliminates obsessing about weight, figure or age. One wears what one wants.

Casual dress near a coffee shop, Cafe de Escorial

Casual street dress

WAS NIGHTTIME DRESSING DIFFERENT FROM DAYTIME?

Not really. They wear pretty much what they wear during the day. It wasn’t as overtly sexual at night as I expected. There were very few people in dresses and heels. But I believe most women wear flats all the time because of the cobblestone streets in Havana. They are just like some of the streets in New York’s Soho. And, by the way, Havana is not like New York. It pretty much closes down at 1 am.

 

Casual night dress at a salsa club

WHAT WERE THE APPAREL STORES LIKE?

We only saw three clothing stores the whole time we were there and two of them catered to tourists. We were told it’s very difficult to buy clothes. I’m sure many women make their clothes at home. I’ve never seen anything like this in any of the places I’ve traveled.

Of course, I’m sure lots of folks either bring things from the US or their relatives send them things. On our flight down, there were more flat screen TVs and Dell computers than regular luggage it seemed. And Pampers! Suitcases are packed full of diapers.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE BUILDINGS?

Some of the beautiful old buildings have been restored or renovated and then painted – inside and out – in bright, vibrant yellows, blues, reds, greens and pinks. You see every color imaginable.

 

Vibrantly colored buildings in downtown Havana

Hotel Saratoga in downtown Havana

HOW WAS THE FOOD? DID YOU HAVE ANYTHING NEW?

Not really. Cuba is not known for its food, but everything we had was good. We ate rice and beans and I had fish prepared in ways that I’d never seen before. But I think there will be more culinary interest in the future.

The night we arrived we made reservations at an excellent restaurant that’s frequented by wealthy Cubans and tourists. It was recommended by our tour guide and is privately owned. This type of business is a rarity in Cuba.

Chocolate flan dessert at a "paladar" or family-owned restaurant

WHAT DID YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST? 

We stayed in an apartment that came with a cook who made us a beautiful fruit plate of delicious pineapple, papayas, mangoes and bananas. Everything was very fresh. She also made us toast, eggs and coffee.

SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT THE “YANK TANKS”?

Oh, let’s! They are everywhere in Cuba and they’re all restored and beautifully maintained. The owners are really proud of their cars. We took a tour of Havana in a 1950 Chevy Powerglide Convertible and it was fantastic. The interior of the car was white and the exterior was a gorgeous red – it was very special. These restored automobiles are big with the Cuban men.

 

The Chevy Powerglide convertible - beautiful!

WOULD YOU RENT A CAR IN CUBA?

No, Havana is like Manhattan, you can walk everywhere. And the cabs are very inexpensive. We usually paid about $5.00 to go wherever we wanted.

STAY TUNED. WE’LL HAVE PART 3 NEXT WEEK.

- Shaun



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