My 2010 Trip to Cuba. – MyCubanStore Blog http://blog.mycubanstore.com We are guayabera shirts and tropical clothing experts! Wed, 04 May 2016 22:45:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.3 Cuban made catamaran to cross the Straight of Florida. http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-story/cuban-made-catamaran-to-cross-the-straight-of-florida/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-story/cuban-made-catamaran-to-cross-the-straight-of-florida/#comments Fri, 18 May 2012 17:05:11 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=1685 This past weekend I spend a day a house in stillsvile; this is one of seven houses located on the water near Biscayne Bay in Miami Florida. I’m a Boy Scout assistant scout master for troop 811 in Miami, Florida, the boys loved the house, they were having fun in the water and fishing all […]

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This past weekend I spend a day a house in stillsvile; this is one of seven houses located on the water near Biscayne Bay in Miami Florida. I’m a Boy Scout assistant scout master for troop 811 in Miami, Florida, the boys loved the house, they were having fun in the water and fishing all day. The hosts at the house were very supporting and generous with us by lending their facility to the boys and teaching them about a piece of Miami history.

On Saturday afternoon one of the fishing boats returned from his fishing trip with a raft they found at sea, the raft was floating without any people inside, however it had a US coast guard sticker that read OK and the date may 10, 2012. We assumed the people on the raft were pickup by the cost guard and send back to Cuba. This makeshift boat was very well made it had the shape of a catamaran with two Styrofoam beans on each side a wooden platform and a sail; we found inside a bag of crackers, bread and can food. It looked similar to Hobbie cat catamaran.

Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made catamaran Cuban home made raft Cuban home made catamaran

 

We towed the craft to Miami and we re now calling a local museum to see if they want to take it into their collection if not the craft could also be displayed at a local fish restaurant, either way it will not be destroy it.

What stroked me most is the fact that this raft reassembles the one on which I left Cuba 18 years ago, so soon after the raft was brought in I found myself telling my story again to people and answering questions about what goes thru your mind when you risk your life and throw yourself into uncertainty.

I was a young man in 1994 and at the age of 24 I was old in the conviction that communist system was not for me, so I did the only thing I could think of doing leaving the country in any way possible. All it took for me to do this was the simple knowledge that freedom was worth the risk. Someone asked me if I would do it again knowing all the trouble I went thru and I responded yes I’m a free man and will always be one. We are all lucky to live in this great country and I myself am for ever grateful!

Enjoy these pictures and share it with your friends!

Link to stillsville information:

http://www.stiltsville.org/pages/history.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stiltsville
http://www.nps.gov/bisc/historyculture/stiltsville.htm

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Jesus is a carpenter in Cuba. http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/jesus-is-a-carpenter-in-cuba/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/jesus-is-a-carpenter-in-cuba/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 19:38:15 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=1001 Last time I visited Cuba I was impressed by the resilience of the cuban people. Everyone there has a way to make money outside of  the government boundaries.  My friend Alberto taught himself how to make pizza, Vladimir sells hand crafted goods to tourists, and  Robertico (an old communist leader) sells peanut nougats and other sweets. […]

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Last time I visited Cuba I was impressed by the resilience of the cuban people. Everyone there has a way to make money outside of  the government boundaries.  My friend Alberto taught himself how to make pizza, Vladimir sells hand crafted goods to tourists, and  Robertico (an old communist leader) sells peanut nougats and other sweets.

The underground cuban economy runs as a capitalist society buying, selling, dealing, and trading goods  to cubans and tourist to consume.

People learn new tricks and new trades and improvise in the most creative ways.  My uncle Jesus  became a carpenter and makes wood chairs, hammocks, entertaining systems, cabinets, and any other requests his customers may have.

What is very impressive is that my uncle also builts the equipment he uses at his modest shop in a small town in Cuba called Alacranes, Matanzas.  Alacranes is located about 100 miles east of Habana, Cuba and is the town where I grew up.

I visited him last year in December and I was most impressed.  I was standing in his improvised shop with wood scraps, rudimentary tools made of old an machete, a fan, and  pieces of iron.  His shop is one of a kind.  He does what he has to do to survive in a Cuba without many resources.

I often wonder what he would do if he lived in the United States?  Probably be a millionaire, he is a problem solver and makes things happen.  I believe he did not go past the 8th grade in school but that never stopped him from learning.  He is the one that made the boat that I came to this country in 16 years ago from a photograph, can you believe it!

Jesus has always been the kind of naturally smart guy that can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to. When I visited his house I felt so proud to see his work skills and his workshop.

In a land without Home Depot or Lowes if you need a table saw you make it yourself.

My uncle had put together a funtional money producing workshop with old motors, pieces of metals, and old tools he either found laying around or bought from neighbors.  He not only does woodwork,  he also makes the tools he needs to work with.

He made me two chairs, a kid’s hammock, and two keys hangers.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to bring them into the United States,  but I tried anyways. To my surprise I was able to get them on the plane and I brought them to Miami.

Below you can see my uncle, his workshop pictures, and pictures of the items he made for me.

Jesus Workshop Drying Wood Wood chair bars. Making a wood chair bars. Making a wood chair bars. Making the baseball bat Making the baseball bat Wood Jointer Baseball Bat Home Made Wood lathe Making a Baseball bat Lounge Chair made by my cuban uncle. IMG_1518 IMG_1516 IMG_1515 IMG_1510 Hammock Weaving Detail Hammock Weaving Detail Keys Hanger Detail Keys Hanger Detail Keys Hanger Detail Lounge Chair Side Detail Lounge Chair legs Detail Lounge Chair legs Detail Lounge Chair Detail Lounge Chair Detail Lounge Chair Detail Lounge Chair Hammock Weaving Detail Lounge Chair Back Detail Lounge Chair Detail Lounge Chair Detail Lounge Chair Detail

Next time you visit a home improvement store think how lucky you are to find all the tools and supplies you need.  If there is ever a time you can’t find something at the store to carry on a project please remember my uncle Jesus  in his day to day strugles  to get his work done.

http://digg.com/story/r/cuban_carpenter_home_made_workshop_mycubanstore_blog

 

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The Canimar River Bridge. Matanzas, Cuba December 2010 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/the-canimar-river-bridge-matanzas-cuba-december-2010/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/the-canimar-river-bridge-matanzas-cuba-december-2010/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:10:28 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=249 Matanzas is a beautiful city approximately 50 miles from Havana.  The city sits on a scenic bay with many rivers passing thru the city.  Many know Matanzas by the nickname the city of bridges.  I visited the Canimar river bridge in Matanzas in December 2010 with my aunt and cousins. We spent the day fishing […]

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Canimar River Bridge In Matanzas, Cuba

Matanzas is a beautiful city approximately 50 miles from Havana.  The city sits on a scenic bay with many rivers passing thru the city.  Many know Matanzas by the nickname the city of bridges. 

I visited the Canimar river bridge in Matanzas in December 2010 with my aunt and cousins. We spent the day fishing under this magnificent bridge and enjoying a wonderful day in this captivating place called the Canimar River.  The Canimar Bridge was built in July 28 1951 by and American company called Raymond Concrete Pile Company.

Enjoy the pictures:

Canimar River Bridge In Matanzas, Cuba I got a Barracuda! Bridge Plaque Going down to the bridge. Little Beach Good Fishermans Indians Re-enactors Another view of the bridge. A view from below My Daughter and Cousins Fishing Umbrella Under the Bridge

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Cuban Business before and after. http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-story/cuban-business-before-and-after/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-story/cuban-business-before-and-after/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2011 20:20:04 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=186 I visited my cousin and he shared some stories with me about his father.  He pulled out an old photo album and showed me an old picture of himself in 1958 working at his dad’s business. The business was a small local cafeteria that served breakfast, coffee and sandwiches. He remembered how his dad used […]

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Family Business in 1958

I visited my cousin and he shared some stories with me about his father.  He pulled out an old photo album and showed me an old picture of himself in 1958 working at his dad’s business. The business was a small local cafeteria that served breakfast, coffee and sandwiches. He remembered how his dad used to place a wooden box beneath his feet so he could reach the counter and serve a glass of water to every customer.  I was able to take a “scan” of the picture with my camera.

His dad’s business, like all businesses, was nationalized (taken by the government) in 1960  at the beginning of the revolution.  I asked him if the place still existed today or not – “Let’s go and see for yourself how the business is doing today”, he said.

We walked down a few blocks from his current house and there it was.  I was holding the 1958 picture in my hands and could not believe my eyes. The small cafeteria his father cherished so much and where he had so many good times helping out as a kid was destroyed.

Same Business in 2010

See it for yourself!  This was not a Transnational American company or a multi million dollar business; this was a simple neighborhood store privately owned by a hardworking man.

Today, more than 50 years later, the Cuban government is trying to promote small businesses, but those businesses existed before and were destroyed; just as this example shows, many other small business owners had the same unpleasant experience. The country does not need any magical solution, just let people dream and work to make their dreams come true.

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Cuban Pesos http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/cuban-pesos/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/cuban-pesos/#respond Fri, 18 Feb 2011 16:45:36 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=102 Cuba has two currencies, on one currency Cubans earn their salaries and use it to pay for their government rationing; this one is called CUP.  The second currency is one with a higher value on which tourists or Cuban with families in other countries deal called CUC. $0.90 (dollar) = 1 CUC = 24 CUP (cuban Pesos) […]

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Cuba has two currencies, on one currency Cubans earn their salaries and use it to pay for their government rationing; this one is called CUP.  The second currency is one with a higher value on which tourists or Cuban with families in other countries deal called CUC.

1 CUC

1 CUC

$0.90 (dollar) = 1 CUC = 24 CUP (cuban Pesos)

1 CUP

1 CUP

An average Cuban worker earns approximately 300 – 400 pesos a month; that translates to approximately $12 to $16 US dollars. Cubans do get some subside rationing from the government to be paid in Cuban pesos but that only last most families about 10 days or so. The rest of the time is a struggle to find food and the money to buy it.

Street Vendor in Havana

 

Housing is not expensive if you are able to share living space with family members, most people live in their family houses for generations. If you are not so lucky you need to rent a house and that is another issue. Housing in Cuba is very scarce and there has been next to little or nothing constructed in the past years, the few houses available for rent are offered at very high prices, many times more than the average salary.

As a result the economic reality is very harsh, more often than not things are only sold in the CUC or they will convert the CUP to CUC increasing the price.

Sample Prices of the street vendor in Havana:

Onions – $35.00 pesos or $1.50 CUC about $1.70 dollars – 2 days of salary for ordinary Cubans

Beans – $25 pesos per pound or $1 CUC about $1.10 collars – 1.5 day of salary for ordinary Cubans

Malanga (taro root) – $20 pesos per pound or about 0.85 CUC – about $1 dollar – 1 day of salary for ordinary Cubans

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A day in Havana http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/a-day-in-havana/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/a-day-in-havana/#respond Fri, 11 Feb 2011 17:58:38 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=95 We wake up in Havana December 22, 2010. We are happy to be with our family and had planned our day to run some errands and later in the afternoon visit the “Acuario Nacional” (National Aquarium). We get into my father’s car, a 1952 Chevy. The car looks pretty good and it runs, not well, […]

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We wake up in Havana December 22, 2010. We are happy to be with our family and had planned our day to run some errands and later in the afternoon visit the “Acuario Nacional” (National Aquarium).

My Dad's 1952 chevy

My Dad's 1952 chevy

We get into my father’s car, a 1952 Chevy. The car looks pretty good and it runs, not well, but it did get us to our first destination. When I sat in the car I was jocking with my father and my wife when I commented  “this car works cause he sees the other cars around him moving….” my father was struggling to put the shift stick in gears.  We were kidding with him and had lots of fun taking a ride to the bank to exchange our travelers checks.

After the bank transaction we were ready to go back home however our 1952 Chevy had other plans, it decided to stop. “The car won’t start” my father told me and open the hood of the car to try to figure out why.  Pretty soon two men were there next to the car willing to give their help and opinions on what was wrong with the car.

In Cuba you will find many people who know how to repair these old american cars very well. Is really amazing with how little they have how they keep them running.

Our 1952 Chevy In Havana

Our 1952 Chevy In Havana

“The battery is new ” he said and I was intrigue by the battery. I asked him is this a homemade battey? “yes” – he said “a friend of my makes them at home and sells them for $65 CUC (about $68 dollars) and since the ones the goverment sells are $85 CUC I save some money”

I took a picture of this home made battery for you to see how they manage to resolve their problems with ingenuity.

Home Made Cuban Car Battery

 At the end we had to tow the car back to the house by giving $10 CUC to a state truck driver who passed by.

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First Night In Havana http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/first-night-in-havana/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/first-night-in-havana/#respond Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:20:10 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=74 After arriving at the Havana airport we took like 2 hours to get out of the airport. The procedures to inspect and pay the customs fees were cumbersome.  Imagen around 200 people each carrying like an average of 2 big tubular 70 pound each luggage.   People coming from Miami bring big bags full of things they […]

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After arriving at the Havana airport we took like 2 hours to get out of the airport. The procedures to inspect and pay the customs fees were cumbersome.  Imagen around 200 people each carrying like an average of 2 big tubular 70 pound each luggage.
 
People coming from Miami bring big bags full of things they know things are scarce or too expensive in Cuba.

I manage to bring a small air compressor and equipment to clean spark plugs for my dad who is hoping to start a business there cleaning spar plugs. Spark plugs are expensive in Cuba like any other car parts.

After paying a hefty amount for our overweight we got out of the airport and spend some time hugging and kissing my mom and dad. We put all luggage into a 1960’s VW van and go on our way to my cousin’s house in Miramar, Havana, a city near the ocean.  For those of us already used to traveling in the US every street in Cuba seems really small.  Even the distances were small, to get from one point to another in the city seem really fast. 

House with Cuban Flag In Hanava

House with Cuban Flag In Hanava

We arrived at our cousing house in the Miramar section of Havana an area with pretty houses from the 50’s. The streets are in really bad shape, only the main avenues like the one on the above picture are a little better.

The neiborhood streets are full of potholes. I questioned how come there seem to be a pattern of holes in front of houses? They explained people fix their own water connections to the main supply line underneath their street.

neighborhood street potholes

neighborhood street potholes

“So if you need more water you pay a crew who comes at night opens a whole on the street and connects you to the main line is that simple. Of course all of this is paid with hard currency (dollars) and is illegal but nobody cares and you fixed your problem.”

We stayed that night at my cousins house talking and enjoying a really good time with our family.

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My Trip to Cuba in 2010 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/my-trip-to-cuba-in-2010/ http://blog.mycubanstore.com/my-trip-to-cuba/my-trip-to-cuba-in-2010/#comments Thu, 03 Feb 2011 17:26:40 +0000 http://blog.mycubanstore.com/?p=52 In December 2010 I visited Cuba with my wife and kids. We were really exited to visit our family again. We had visited in December 2009 but left with a feeling we need it to spend more time with them.  After so many years apart 7 days the first time was not enough when my immediate […]

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In December 2010 I visited Cuba with my wife and kids. We were really exited to visit our family again. We had visited in December 2009 but left with a feeling we need it to spend more time with them.  After so many years apart 7 days the first time was not enough when my immediate family is composed of well over 70 people.

I had my Cuban passport ready from the year before. I’m a naturalized American citizen but Cuba requires me to have a Cuban passport because I left Cuba after 1971, which by the way it’s really expensive.

My wife left Cuba in 1970 so can travel with her American password with a special cuban permit. These are regulations from Cuba not the US.  We are visiting our family so under the current US law we are allowed to do so. Our US born kids can travel with a turist visa issued by the travel agency.

Our tickets to Cuba were like $550 each, really expensive considering it took only 40 to 50 minutes from Miami to Havana in a modern Boeing 767 aircraft.  The plane was full, I think it was approximate 200 people on that plane.  They must be making a killing I told my Wife think about it 200 * $500 = $100,000.00 for a one hour trip.

Going to Cuba

Going to Cuba

This picture bellow shows you the trip track the plane took from Miami to Havana.

Our Flight From Miami to Havana Cuba

From Miami to Havana Cuba

Tip: If you want to track flights yourself visit: http://flightaware.com/live/

The trip was really nice all the flight attendants were very polite. We were offered half a sandwich an a soda. After eating my sandwich I noticed people were already seen Cuba on their window. It was a uneventful fast flight.

We arrived  in Havana around 5:30 pm on on December 21, 2010.

Our Plane in Havana Airport

Our Plane in Havana Airport

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