Change of Plan

27 06 2011

View of the Caribbean Sea from the reataurant at El Morro castle

My plan had been to return to Santiago de Cuba for five weeks from this Wednesday (29th June) and to start writing the blog regularly again. Unfortunately, since returning to England, I have received some very bad and highly unexpected news regarding my health, which has led me to have to cancel my flight and any plans I have for returning to Cuba in the foreseeable future.

The thing that I hoped would be interesting about this blog was the perspective of a foreigner living in Cuba’s second city and writing about everyday life as free as possible from the baggage that many commentators have when writing about Cuban matters. However, to do that I need to be on the ground, not writing from afar.

I will therefore not be writing any more posts until, hopefully, one day in the not too distant future I can return to the city from where I have such happy memories.

Looking Out

17 06 2011

The outlet from the Bay of Santiago to the Caribean Sea, as seen from the marina at Punta Gorda

Sailing Away

10 06 2011

View of a ship sailing from the bay of Santiago out to the Caribbean sea, taken from the Frank Pais memorial garden.

Sierra Maestra (Urbana)

3 06 2011

The view eastwards along Avenida Victoriano Garzon, with the tower blocks of the Centro Urbano Sierra Maestra on the right, known to most people in Santiago de Cuba simply as the “dieciocho plantas” (eighteen floors). On the top two floors of one of these blocks is a restaurant (see review from February) and an ice cream parlour (see picture and review from January).

In front of the dieciocho plantas is one of the major interchanges for buses, camiones and maquinas heading to the east and north east of the city.

This is the road that is blocked to traffic each week for the Noches Santiaguerras.

In the background is the Gran Piedra mountain range.


27 05 2011

Every weekend in Avenida Garzon in Santiago, mobile toilets would be installed, ready for the Noches Santiaguerras. To use the toilet cost 1CUP. Most men seemed to prefer to keep their change for buying beer or food and used walls and gutters in the side streets to relieve their bladders instead.


19 05 2011

In the part of Santiago de Cuba where I was staying, it was very common for houses to have their doors, windows and balconies protected by metal cages (known as rejas). The installation of these was carried out by private individuals and it seemed to be good business, as they were much in demand.

Many were very decorative, which led me to conclude that they were primarily installed due to their aesthetic value, rather than any risk of crime that needed to be guarded against. However, one night at the house above which my apartment was situated and whose front entrance we shared, the owner of the house was awoken in the early hours and observed a masked man attempting to gain entry and cutting the wires to the buzzer that sounded when the gate was open. The intruder ran off when he saw that he had been observed. After that, I was glad that my apartment was protected by its own cage, attractive or not.


12 05 2011

This year’s craze in Santiago de Cuba for boys, both small and large, is flying kites (known there as cometas). On nearly every street there are boys flying their kites, some reaching incredible heights. Hardly any were shop-purchased, nearly all were home-made, using sticks for the frame, plastic from shopping bags as the material; and twine unpicked from rice sacks as the string.

It was a pleasure to see young lads getting hours of pleasure from something so simple and it reminded me of my own childhood, when we would play for hours on the streets with improvised toys made from available materials. For most kids in Santiago there are no computer games where they sit at home alone in front of a screen most of the day.

The downside is that the kites get snagged on the overhead wires and it is not always possible to retrieve them, meaning that many streets are decorated by overhead wires with bits of wood, plastic and twine flying from them.