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Boats, buses and banana plantations

It’s hard to believe it was just two days ago I awoke at 2:30 a.m., had one last coffee with my new friend Homero (host of a highly recommended casa particular, more info below), and headed for the Havana airport. The trip to Belize would be a long and grueling one – there are no […]

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Many roads to the Bay of Pigs

PINAR DEL RIO, CUBA — I had been warned about the many hitchhikers who congregate around the highway entrances looking for rides; public transport outside the city is scarce, slow and overcrowded, and lucky is the Cuban who owns an operational vehicle. Still, I was taken aback by the sheer numbers of people massed under […]

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Riding with the bulls in Viñales

Tobacco farms, curious formations called mogotes and a tranquil, timeless way of life were what I sought in the tiny colonial city of Viñales in Pinar del Rio – another stop along the Polo Montañez trail, being a favorite haunt of the beloved singer. I found all of that – and a lively nightlife, besides. […]

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Las Terrazas: A forest and its guajiros reclaimed

PINAR DEL RIO, CUBA — It had been two months since I packed away my car keys and began leaving the driving to otros. And as much as I’ve enjoyed traveling with the locals via camión in Mexico and guagua in Havana (regional words for bus), I’ll admit I felt a thrill when Ernesto at […]

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Havana at Last

This time, the second time was a charm. José Martí International Airport coasted into view, the city of Havana in sharp relief in the sunny background. This time I was headed for the main terminal, not the tiny old dark one reserved for arrivals from Miami. And this time, the journalist visa was firmly in […]

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Havana to Tracy: Not so fast

Cuba, it seems, was not ready for me. Definitely, I was not ready for Cuba. It seems that getting a Cuban journalist’s visa is a great deal more complicated than I had been led to believe. My lack of attention to this particular detail led to a brusque reception by disbelieving bureaucrats, a long cold […]

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Lighting out for the South

Today I will follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Che Guevara and Celia Cruz to the irrepressible rhythm of the Cuban son – emanating from Cuban human beings, not my CD collection or a cover band in downtown Houston. Far from the Bayou City, I’ll savor the sunset breezes on the Malecón, the famous […]

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