CUBA: 21.03. - 09.05.2008

Cycled kilometres: 2961  km
Preface: For us Cuba was absolutely one of the most interesting countries of our trip. Though have also liked us the scenery and in particular the beaches very well, however, much more full of suspense quite own socialist culture was under palms which has developed during the last just 50 years after the Cuban revolution. While Cuba is in 5 stars Beach resorts absolutely in the ball of the time, the people lead a very easy life in particular in the more rural areas. Many of the farmers work their fields also even today in pure manual labour and a farmer him his corn field with a wooden plough from Bulls is pulled ploughs up is no rare sight. In addition many horse carriages and ox's carts come as a means of transportation and American old-timer from the 50th. Sometimes we have to sit the feeling in a gigantic time machine only around from 21 centuries. all at once directly in late 19. To be restored century, or to land in between in any time. We never know which new surprise behind the next corner on ourselves waits. Often we imagine that Cuba might be exciting just for our grandparents really, because they could return there once again in her own youth without having to renounce the comfort of the today's life. Will maintain this system of the extreme differences by strong pressure of the government, however after Cheerful Castro has handed over the office shops in spring, 2008 to his younger brother Raúl after 49 years of the rule now the signs seem to stand on change and opening. Raúl stands there before a difficult job, because the risk that just the older Cubans and the rural population who have carried the Cuban revolution for years, by a too quick change simply fall down behind is big. The open warmth of many Cubans has gone on to us the trip, nevertheless, mostly very simply and thus it hard fell to us after 7 weeks this country again to leave. We wish the Cuban on her way to a new "revolution" in any case all the best!
252nd Weekly Report 22.03. -- 30.03.2008

Route: Havana, Bahia Honda, Viñales, Guane, Peninsula de Guanahacabibes
Entry into Cuba: On half a way to the airport in Bogotá the right pedal dropped to me all at once. Apparently the bicycle mechanics have used a little bit too much force in Colombia and while unscrewing the pedal they have destroyed the thread within. So I cycled the last 8 km with only one pedal to the airport. The things were fast packed and although we of course again substantially luggage had we had no problems with overweight once again, although we have checked in 88 kg. The flight was as trouble-free as the entry and duty formalities on Cuba. When we said with the duty that we are cyclist we passed in the whole queue without any control directly! We might assemble even our wheels directly in the arrival hall again and pack our whole equipment again into the pockets and when we were ready it was just 03:00 o'clock. We wait still during two hours at the airport (we have saved one of the expensive overnight stays on Cuba:-)) before we came along on the way to Havana.
Welcome to Cuba: About 05:00 o'clock we step from the air-conditioned airport building in the muggy-warm Cuban morning air; it had rained overnight. The air is difficult and there it up to the sunrise still long there is wrong we cycle in the pitch-dark. To be able to cycle a little lighter I have fixed my left foot with an instep belt in the pedal. Cuba is closed down and quietly before us and nothing points to the fact that we stand before the gates a metropolis with 2.1 million inhabitants. Now and again a small tourist coach overtakes absolute silence to us, nevertheless, otherwise. With the first isolated houses the spicy smell of the Cuban cigars floats all at once then also by the heavy morning air, however, from the Cubans still no track. We are overtaken by a Russian Lada and Czech Java (motorcycle by side car) and the typical smell of the exhaust gases recalls memories of East Europe and Russia. We approach the centre and slowly we meet the first Cubans who stand with her cigar in the mouth in dark in the bus stops. The first coaches appear all at once and her thick diesel exhaust gases make the night even blacker. Suddenly Nadine discovers a baker's and for converted 0.4EUR in an open illuminated door we buy 20 tasty bread rolls. Greedily we bolt down some bread rolls, nevertheless, we have eaten up to a few occupied bread rolls yesterday morning since nothing. Laboriously I cycle with my one pedal further and together with the first sunrays we come in the city centre. We have used 2 hours for 25 km of the airport in centre. The streets have filled meanwhile with life, however, only one interests us: Where is the Casa Particulares (spare room) we have booked. Finally, we want to sleep, nevertheless, we are already for over 26 hours on the legs. The somnolent owner of the Casa Particulares is sullen and has, actually, no desire for us and thus we are quartered on a neighbour, a nice older lady, who fetches us a few minutes later. Nevertheless, with thanks we reject the coffee our house mistress before we to us, finally, in the empire of the dreams dismiss.
Old Town of Havana: One can find the quiet witnesses of the socialism in Havana on every corner: now and again to half dilapidated colonial constructions magnificent once in those the colour everywhere flakes off. With the breakdown of the Soviet Union, the trading partner most important once of Cuba, Castro had to keep a lookout Cheerful of course after new sources of money and opened his country at that time to the tourism. At that time thus was started to do up with it the Old Town of Havana again and now everywhere many of the marvellous houses shine again in the old shine, completely as well as it to themselves for an UNESCO world cultural heritage also heard. Though the Old Town is tourist, however, anyhow it has a lot of charm. In the cafés and restaurants her guests maintain of salsa tape and not seldom a Cuban spontaneously resolves a little dance in the middle of the pelican crossing to put down. The life goes comfortably his way (so comfortably as a city just can be) and after the mostly hectic South American cities Havana is almost already an oasis of the rest.
Pedal repair: To gain control of my pedal problem I am sent by a bicycle store to a mechanic in a suburb of Havana. The work town lies in the backyard of a row house and thus I have to go with my wheel by sitting room, kitchen and two bedrooms in which a few more members of the family in sleep are. To come by the last door  then I must develop even my front wheel, however, then I stand all at once in 3 m x 3-m-workshop with an old Russian lathe and other heavy metal treatment devices so full, that one can hardly move. The mechanic and his about 20 year older assistant examine the problem and then set to work without big words to lose without any hurry. First a bigger hole is bored in my crank in then in new thread is cut. Now a hole is bored in an aluminium block, a thread cut in then later the pedal should be screwed. Afterwards the aluminium block is clamped in the lathe, is milled smaller and, finally, from the outside the suitable thread cut with it he in the new thread of the crank fits. Now the shell new thus won is screwed into the crank and is anchored and almost I already think that one the whole could not have made better. However, when the mechanic wants to screw the pedal it positions itself out that the thread of the pedal little bit too thick! The shell screwed is already so thin ones that the mechanic does not want to make them a little bigger and thus the thread in the pedal is milled without further ado suitably! OK. now though my pedal problem is repaired, however if my pedal is broken now I have of course the problem that I can use no other pedal of the world, without the thread was milled before suitably. However, I will only deal with the problem when it is so far!
Revolutionary museum: In the revolutionary museum one can postpursue the whole story of the Cuban revolution in great detail and bumps thus into a few interesting details. Cheerful Castro was originally a lawyer and already a student leader. After his exam he went as a promising newcomer by the Cuban elections to the start, however, Fulgecio Batista revolted before to the power. Against it Castro inserted Cheerful the objection before the uppermost court which was turned down, nevertheless. As a result Castro organised Cheerful an opposition group, went with her to the shooting training, and removed with them a weapon store from to supply itself with weapons and ammunition. Nevertheless, differently than many other guerrilla warfare Castro went on the whole and instead of destroying streets or public facilities he attacked with his troop on the 26.07.1953 the Moncada barracks, at that time the second largest barracks of the military. The raid failed and Cheerful Castro was arrested and sentenced to death. On international criticism his capital punishment was converted into a long-standing prison sentence and he will dismiss thanks of the help of Mexico under a general amnesty, finally, prematurely. Cheerful Castro went with his brother Raul (who is, by the way, just the Cuban president) to Mexico where he founded his revolutionary army.
Small everyday stories I: Thanks to the socialism, to the Cuban wealth of ideas and the joy of life of the Cubans Cuba is a country of the small everyday stories. Constantly occur some little things which stimulate us for smiling or which give to us "members of an affluent society" small lessons. However, instead of boring you with all stories we will bore you only every now and then with some of it. Here the first: We are already a few days in Havana and Nadine shops just in street sales a small pizza. With her an older man stands in the queue and all at once he lasts in the rubbish bin and fishes half a pizza out. In some South American countries this would have been an everyday situation, however, in spite of the very modest relations in those many Cubans live, nevertheless, we do not have the impression that one must suffer here hunger!? However, instead of eating the pizza itself the older man throws them now simply to a half starved dog to on the corner sits!
Waterfront promenade: The waterfront promenade of Havana, the Malecón, lies directly on the Atlantic side of Cuba and as soon as a little stronger north-east hoist is a matter ruling here equally violently to the thing, because then the waves with her whole strength bang into the bank walls. Not only once we get a full load of water as us in for the motor traffic is not allowed along closed Malecón cycle. Then a little further from the centre away the whole waterfront promenade and a few adjoining streets also is underwater immediately laxly 30 cm what our bicycles love of course less than us. Here in any case we would not like to be if hurricanes come on Cuba!
"Los Cubanos son buenos": We make just in a small place by the sea our lunchbreak as an old happily Cuban comes and gives us a few grapefruits. He still shows us we  the grapefruits, anyhow look quite differently than in Germany to available, eats and with a happy "Chiao" and a shoulder doorknocker for Martin he disappears again. A few minutes later there stands Manuel how we know meanwhile, again before us and this time he still has some kilos of bananas, Guayavas and a mango for us. We try to explain to him that we cannot drag at all so much, however, he exists with the remark "Los Cubanos son buenos" (The Cubans are stubborn good people) on the fact that we take the whole fruit. At least as a recollection we give him a Photo of ourselves at their back we beside a few thanks our email addresses score. Manuels joy at the picture is the a lot of bigger present than the whole fruit for us. Once more a hearty shoulder doorknocker and before we to us is provided Manuel also disappeared. However, not for long, because after a few minutes he is there again, this time, nevertheless, without fruit, but with the request whether we could not write his name and of his son (who lives in the USA still on the back of the photo), because, otherwise, we do not squander at all who would call there. Anyhow Manuel was so excited that him has not struck at all that he now his names on his map stand has, and we with it yet know who does not call. However, to explain this, and the functionality of email around him Manuel was too excited a lot, and thus we take down after he had gone for his names to our directory and trust in the fact that his son in the USA already knows what one with an email address starts.
Solidarity: Because in Cuba there is not exactly an abundance  in food, one knows how to help himself. We see just a fully loaded ox's team of the pineapple field coming. With pleasure the farmer would give a pineapple to his friend who just meets, however, he is not allowed to do this presumably. Thus the chance falls now like it so wants 10 m before the ox's team with the friend is a pineapple of the carriage which Freud gathers of course with a thanks greeting joyfully from the ground!
Viñales: In the northwest of Cuba the nice tourist place Viñales lies in the midst of a hill chain. Viñales is liked with the tourists primarily because of his nice middle mountainous region with his many precipitous lime rocks and caves.
Beach days: Cuba is the biggest Caribbean island, and what lies there closer than sometimes a few days on the beach to take it easy! One of the nicest beaches, Maria de la Gorda, lies at the northwest end of Cuba and is, because he lies relatively far away from the shot, still delightfully untouched. Up to a few fishermen we see during two days no human soul. We have the whole beach with crystal clear water and gigantic mussels completely for ourselves alone, however although we we, actually, only in the shade of some trees detain we have got both a well-arranged sunburn in shoulders, backs and upper thighs!
Attention crabs! The costal road was built apparently directly into the native country of a cancer colony. Although in the middle of a nature reserve nobody takes exception here to the fact that the crabs lie to hundreds knocked down and killed directly before the park office on the streets. The maybe life-saving sign on "wild animals on the roadway" points, nevertheless, comes, unfortunately, only a few hundred metres behind the cancer colony! As soon as the crabs, nevertheless, a pedestrian, car or even a truck approaches he stands, spreads his scissors on and makes thus an especially dangerous impression what is rather a little promising in case of the trucks nevertheless. Nevertheless, one can already impress a few cyclists like us with the threatening gestures!

253. Wochenbericht 31.03. - 06.04.2008

Route: Piñar del Rio, Viñales, Havanna

Tobacco cultivation: Shortly before Piñar del Rio we are demanded at the break of dawn by a young Cuban whether we did not want to visit a tobacco factory. It would also cost nothing. We follow our leader and land in the dry house of the tobacco company "Hojas de Monterey". In the warehouse we find out that the tobacco plants are harvested after 6 months. All together there are 5 s and the sheets from below upwards are picked. While lower both sheets the strongest ones are used uppermost for the skin of the cigars. After the harvest the sheets come to the dry house where they remain during 6 weeks. In this time withdraw more than 90% of the nicotine of the sheet into the stalk which is removed then of course. Afterwards it further goes to the fermentation. After the fermentation the sheets are stored over again 2 years before they are rolled in the factories at last to cigars. We find out from our guide then also like one a cigar on her quality checked. 1. Rolled: Cigar between the palms with the opening down roll; no crumbs may fall out then tobacco rubbish would have been used. 2. Crackled: Cigar with the fingers in the ear roles; one hears crackling. 3rd wind test: One blows on the open side in the cigar; there escapes no air and the cigar puffs itself up something. At the end of our small guidance we should buy of course cigars (it the boys of the warehouse before from the factories swipes have). Because we wanted to have anyhow a few cigars as "a small present" we then completely against our habit well some taken.
Ox's sledges: Because on the heavy grounds here vehicles with wheels will became get stuck only much too easily the tobacco sheets on sledge pulled by oxen in the warehouses brought. Absolutely the best method, however, we feel moved anyhow another century.
La Libretta: During the economic crisis during the beginning years of the revolution "La Libretta" was introduced in March, 1962. Like the renewal coupons during the times of world war every Cuban with the Libretta receives certainly subsidised food which he gives in small village stores virtually everywhere, receives. The food spent on the Libretta should protect in principle the basic care for 4 weeks. Thus every Cuban receives 2.7 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of noodles 1.5 kg of white sugar, 1.5 kg of brown sugar, 0.25 kg of beans, 0.25 l of oil, a soap and every day a bread roll. Toddlers receive, in addition, still milk powder and school children one more cheese bread roll at school. For every family there is, in addition, still salt, Cafe, tomato sauce and a tube toothpaste. However, according to availability gives still eggs, chickens, various vegetables. Though big feats are not possible with it, however, at least nobody must starve with it. When short comparison here what Nadine and me per person use in rice or noodles per day: 150 g of rice or 200 g of noodles.
Shopping: Shopping can become in Cuba easily a small adventure. First one must find first of all a place in what one wants to buy generally gives. Then one must have the luck that the store is also open just by chance and written up opening times have not necessarily to mean that the store is really opened. Then one must have the luck that the desired article is also really in stock in the store, because bottlenecks already seem every now and then. However, even if one the desired article already before eyes has one can still on no account be sure whether one gets him. This one hangs because of it from in what kind of business is. If one is in one of the stores in those by the foreign currency CUC or quite normally with peso is paid everything is in butter. If one is, nevertheless, in a store in the Cubans the food only on her food maps one can get and may buy officially nothing. Then it completely depends before the desire and mood of the store staff whether one gets what or may not pay and also whether one what for it or not. Often enough we may not pay, although we exist stubbornly on what is always very disagreeable to us, but when it simply the only landing is far and wide we have, actually, no other alternative. Sometimes there are also stores in those with the food brands as well as with peso is paid, however, also here it always takes down on the mood of the shop assistants whether we something we et and, nevertheless may at least pay.
But tomorrow certainly! Transporting a bicycle in the train: Actually, we wanted to make in Cuba only one small round tour around Havana, nevertheless, there Cuba is level we resolve to drive from Havanna by the train ito Santiago situated in the southeast around then all over cycle back. When we will want to buy the train tickets we asked, nevertheless, rather tomorrow to come again, because one would soon like to finish work. Then in the next morning I buy the tickets (the tourist counters is not, by the way, in the railway station!) and when we will come in the railway station we with our wheels not let in. The security guard brings us to the back entrance, nevertheless, there they should make no notion what they with us and call her boss. Together with the boss I go to the platform only to find out that bicycles can be taken only in a special carriage and him today there would not be. Tomorrow indeed! So we cycle back to the ticket counter around the ticket to return, however, now the good woman wants to return me only half of the purchase price because I cancel the ticket! Nevertheless, I succeed them of the fact in persuading that I had made sure before with her whether we the wheels can take what she had confirmed, and if now this was not possible she would have wrong informed me, which is why I would pay no cancellation fee. The next day then we are first at least so smartly to ask whether there is today a carriage for the wheels and after some hours (!), finally, we find out that there also is today nobody, and that it, because most luggage carriages are defective, rather is a piece of luck if there is sometimes one. But tomorrow should give one! ", But tomorrow certainly little play" we already know and thus I come along with a helpful man on the way to the freight depot. While I before the door wait this does the person responsible for the goods traffic on to me then rather plausibly assures that he has for a carriage tomorrow. Tomorrow I should turn directly to him. Not to wait for it keen still a next day which ends then under circumstances again with the answer ", But tomorrow certainly", we resolve to drive ourselves at last nevertheless rather by the more expensive coach!
To understand Cuba a small insight into the history has helped us very much. Whom the short historical overview doesn´t interest should jump to the next weekly report.
The first years: On his search for a west rod to India Christopher Columbus landed on the 28th of October, 1492 as the first European on Cuba. A serious discovery for the natives of Cuba, because during the coming 50 years they were reduced of from 200,000 to 4000! By his geostrategical situation Cuba developed her treasures carried off in her colonies in the native country during the next centuries to an important trading centre for the Spaniards around them to ship. An other impetus experienced Cuba than it fled in the course of the French revolution to a slave uprising on Haiti occupied by the French (which came neighbouring island) and a lot of French owners of sugarcane and Café plantation to Cuba. Beside her specialist knowledge the French brought of course also a lot of money with themselves and built up thus a successful sugarcane industry which became within less years the world market leader and made Cuba the richest colony of Spain. As well as also in South America the Spanish-born Kreolen were fed up sometime with the control from the old native country and thus explained Carlos Manuel Cespèdes in 1868 the independence of Cuba. Several wars followed against the Spaniards and when the Cubans had almost hit the Spaniards, finally the USA interfered in 1899 with the war and hit the Spaniards. Now, nevertheless, instead of the independence of Cuba merely the supremacy of Cuba of Spain on the USA was transferred! There the Cubans had been cheated around her victory and had come from the rain to the eaves. Although in 1902 though officially the republic Cuba was exclaimed, nevertheless, Cuba stood massively under the control of the USA which ambassador made, actually, also all important decisions. After a coup d'état shortly before the set elections Fulgencio Batista himself exerted himself in 1952 as a president of Cuba (of course with support of the USA), established a corrupt regime, abolished the constitution and pursued the members of the opposition.
The Cuban revolution: The young lawyer Fidel Castro who ran for election for a seat in the parliament was also concerned by the refusal of the elections. First Castro inserted Cheerful objection before the Supreme Court which was turned down, nevertheless against the refusal of the elections. Nevertheless, cheerful Castro did not surrender, rallied some like-minded round himself, coached with them the contact with firearms (which they had pinched to themselves from a weapon business) and attacked on the 26.07.1953 with 131 men and women the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The Moncada barracks were at that time the second largest barracks of Cuba and thus the courageous attack ended with a drama. Although only 6 of the attackers in the attack died were executed most during the following days or were tormented to death. Cheerful Castro himself was put in court and in spite of the famous epilogues of his pleading, "convicted me this is meaningless, the history will acquit me," in a show process sentenced to death. Nevertheless, under pressure the church and the public the death sentence is converted in 15 years of prison in the most famous prison of Cuba (virtually a death sentence on rates). Nevertheless, cheerful Castro had luck then only 1.5 years later he got free with a general amnesty and went to Mexico into exile. In exile he assembled once more a group of revolutionaries around himself (among the rest, the young Argentine doctor Ernesto "Che" Guevara) with those he on the engine yacht Granma in November, 1956 again back to Cuba went. Dictator Batista had got of it of course wind and Cheerful had already expected Castro and his 81 strong troops. From one of Batistas troops laid ambush could escape only 16 revolutionaries who fled in the mountain world of the Sierra Maestra and took up the armed opposition. Cheerful Castro and his revolutionaries had the Cuban people behind himself and thus fled at the New Year's Eve night 1958 Batista from the country. On the 1st of January, 1959 Castro announced Cheerful de Cuba the victory of the revolution in Santiago.
The aftermath: The USA so simply did not want to allow to snatch away the control of Cuba, nevertheless, and after had forbade to Castro foreign property, foreign oil companies had expropriated, 26 US companies had nationalised and, finally, had explained still all US banks to the state property covered the USA the famous commercial blockade them till this day continues. Under John F. Kennedy the USA attacked Cuba with 1500 of the CIA to qualified exile Cubans in the so-called pork bay, nevertheless, were beaten off by Cheerful Castro and his revolutionary troops successfully. In 1962 then the next crisis. To prevent that the USA would became attack Cuba once more Castro with Russia the stationing of nuclear rockets on Cuba agreed. The whole one flew up and the world stood all at once shortly before the third world war. Russia yielded and drew off his rockets, after the USA renounced for their part an invasion in Cuba. Since then he gave beside to the constant mutual verbal attacks though no official military actions of the USA more, however, attempts on Cheerful Castro as well as a small propaganda war about the exile Cubans who are supported yearly with 15 million US $, however, there was of course furthermore. 
"Special period in peacetime": After the problems with the USA and the exile Cubans were solved more or less some followed peacefully years in those Cheerful Castro Cuba to a socialist state did alterations. In particular the school system and health service have profited from it and thus heard Cuba today to one of the countries with the best training system and health system (still before Germany!). It became narrow for Cuba, nevertheless, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union which had strongly supported her small brother financially and had bought, among the rest, Cuban products to above world prices. There was suddenly not enough all (stream, petrol, to spare parts, food...) and only endurance slogans there was richly. To master the crisis Castro exclaimed a "special period in peacetime", opened Cuba further for the international tourism and introduced the US $ as a second currency. Now with the US $ as a second currency the exile Cubans could send her related money and by the whole measure package the situation relaxed again. Then in 2004 the US $ was substituted with the peso of Convertible. After Cheerful Castro had handed over the government shops temporarily to his brother Raul Castro in 2006 for a heavy intestinal operation withdrew to "Comandante en Jefe" in spring, 2008 finally from his post as a head of state. Although earlier than iron hand of the revolution seems to be famously new head of state Raul Castro, nevertheless, a reformer and already few weeks after his assumption of office he has already loosened the travel restrictions for Cubans. Now the tourists exclusively foreign till then to reserved islands and tourist facilities may enter also Cuban!

254th Weekly Report 07.04. -- 13.04.2008

Route: Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Pilon, Media Luna

Forgotten villages: On our way from Bayamo via El Salton to Santiago de Cuba we come by some villages apparently forgotten by the government. The sound map tarred street is a nice mucky runway with many blow holes from the tar leftovers only every now and then could be encountered. If we had still mentioned few days before in Havana in the conversation with a German building contractor that Cuba in spite of all disposes in comparison to other Latin America countries of a very good structural fabric, this must take back we here immediately. Many Cubans live here in very easy board huts without electricity and fluently water. Even small stores are rare and only laborious to reach. Though according to map there should be some villages, nevertheless, more than isolated hermit's courts we do not agree to face. We have already appeared to it to have to cycle up to the next bigger place thirsty, because our stores of water go to the bending when we are asked in the first house with stream connection by the house mistresses sitting before the door whether they could help us anyhow. We ask carefully for water and to our astonishment we get delightfully refreshing chilled water. For us like absolutely also for some neighbours pure luxury. Now we further come in the village and although the grit runway still long is not past, nevertheless, here the people seem to be better at least again around something (stream, water, village stores).
La Virgen de la Caridad: Before the gates of Santiago de Cuba in El Cobre lies the church of the virgin of the mercy. The statue of the virgin was fished in 1606 by three fishermen in a storm from the sea and hardly that they had discovered that it itself around a Marien's figure acted the storm already decreased, so that they could paddle with quiet sea home. Then in 1684 the first church was built for the Marien's statue and today the church in them itself considers in 1927. The virgin of the mercy is a national saint of Cuba and many known and less known Cubans come to ask to her around for her assistance and her help. After her requests were heard many Cubans dedicate her trophies of the virgin or make her presents. Thus one can admire, for example, in a glass cabinet in the church a lot of hand-signed baseball, some Olympic medallions as well as cups, toys cars or strands of hair. The special thanks gifts like the Nobel Prize for Literature medallion of Ernest Hemmingway or a golden partisan's figure of the mother of Cheerful Castro, donated after the revolution had won, nevertheless, are under sure fastener.
Santiago de Cuba: Though Rebelde ayer, hospitalaria hoy, heroica siempre, (rebelliously yesterday, hospitably today, heroically always) is the motto of the second largest town of Cuba, however, anyhow the life is a little bit too hectic to us in Santiago. Here though there is one of the most famous music houses of Cuba (Casa de la Trova), however, as us were there was just nothing doing, so that we have disappeared nevertheless rather in the bed. With the raid in 1953 on the Moncada to barracks and the victory explanation in 1959 took place in Santiago of the Cuba beginning as well as end of the revolution.
National heroes: Beside the brother's pair Cheerful and Raul Castro both revolutionaries Camillo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Che Guevara whose portraits and remarks meet everywhere on Cuba also count to the indisputable national heroes. Camillo Cienfuegos whose brand name was a broad-brimmed Stetson joined Cheerful Castro already in Mexico, and fought therefore from the outset on his side. Cienfuegos climbed up to the Commandant in the revolutionary army and one of his biggest days was supposed as him with his troop in Havana entered and there more than 10,000 soldiers of Batistas disarmed troops. Nevertheless, Camillo Cienfuegos was no communist and after his Cesna disappeared suddenly without a trace from the radar screen and never again de Cuba appeared as him from Santiago flew back where he a fallen from favour military governor had arrested, spread the rumour that he had been removed on instruction of the "Kommandante a Jefe". Shortly before Cienfuegos to the "Maximo of eyelids has to go" in a personally conversation because have accused of establishing a dictatorship in Cuba only again! Also the destiny of the national hero Ernesto Che Guevara throws no good light on Cheerful Castro. The young Argentine doctor Ernesto Guevara joined Cheerful Castro also already in Mexico and got there from his revolutionary comrades the nickname "Che" what means on well in German mate and is at least today in Argentina a widespread address. As well as Cienfuegos climbed up so also Che to the Kommandante and after the victory of the revolution Castro lent in the fiddle the Cuban citizenship. Later became Che Guevara leader of the industrial department of the national institute of the agrarian reform (one of these clarify hand socialist name for authorities) and late boss of the issuing bank. However, also he seems to have alienated the Soviet Union, the new friends of Castro from himself after the revolution from Cheerful and after he in 1965, had attacked sharply his end seemed to have been sealed in Cuba. Shortly after he left because Cuba for good and renounces in his resignation letter not only all his offices separate his citizenship also returned. Also Che Guevara seems about the course Cheerful Castro had hit to other opinion to to have been. Che Guevara went of initiating to Bolivia around the revolution also there, however, without support of the farmers his army was fast chafed. After he had wounded few days before and had been arrested he was shot on the 09.10.1967 at the age of 39 years by the bolivianischen army under martial law. The knowledge Che Guevaras that one wins in a good revolution either, or dies had become for him immediately twice the truth.
Population mix: Officially the Cuban population consists of 66% of white, 12% of black, 21.9% Mulatten and 0.1% of Chinese. If one travels through Cuba one has anyhow the feeling that the figures behind and in front do not tune there it rather after 1/3 for white, looks black and mixed. The riddle freed itself for then, nevertheless, quite fast as us go that every Cuban might determine his skin colour with the elevation of the data himself. Then interesting we thought in the connection that we have met sometimes families in those the parents, for example were black and one of the children, nevertheless was white (with blond hair and bright eyes). The grandfather was a European then we agreed as an answer to our questioning looks. However, the fact that genes can assert themselves even after two generations again, entails absolutely also that many Cubans her skin colour not only after the real colour but also after her family descent judge.
Tamarindos: When we just on the beach our dinner prepare joined themselves a young Cuban to ourselves and a tasty soft drink shows us like one from the legumes Tamarindos can prepare. First he breaks open the bowl and lays the cores surrounded by a viscous mass in a cup. Now he pours water in the bowl and stirs some minutes to himself the viscous mass bit by bit in the water dissolves. He gets the shiningly touched cores from the water, adds some sugar and a marvellous soft drink is ready. Because we in our thermos jug still cold water had it is especially tasty of course. We invite him to the dinner, however, our rice with chickpeas could not persuade him really. No miracle then we had forgotten to soak the peas and thus they are hard and tasteless. Nevertheless, he still leaves to us the rest of his Tomarindos before he to himself with his barrow at breaking night on the posthouse way makes.
Costal road: The Costal road of Santiago de Cuba to Pilon is an absolute dream. Past the delightfully lonesome beaches which invite to Baden and tents the street is sometimes wedged thus between the precipitous mountain slopes of the Sierra Maestra and the sea that there seems to be, actually, no place for them. And if not at some places soon sometimes a road construction troop goes past then the street could soon belong absolutely to the history.
Amarillos: The public transportation nearly does not exist in Cuba in the absence of financial means and thus the drivers all state vehicle are obliged to it for solidarity reasons to take her comrades. To the better organisation there are in every bigger place and in all more important crossroads the so-called Amarillos. The operators of this state agency for arranged lifts carry yellow uniforms where from also her name touches (the yellow). Nevertheless, the state vehicles obliged to the entrainment are easy for the Amarillos to recognise, because he gives of different colour number plates in Cuba. Blue and orange for state vehicles, green for the military, black for message member, yellow for private vehicles and red for hired car. Nevertheless, most often empty trucks or tractors with followers are used for the personal transport.
Caution revolutionaries: After they had escaped shortly after her arrival on Cuba from the ambush of Batistas troops have here with 5 other revolutionaries Ernesto Che Guevara and Camillo Cienfuegos on the 19th of December, 1956 on the way in the Sierra Maestra the street crossed. What a patriotism and which heroic admiration!

255th Weekly Report 14.04. -- 20.04.2008

Itinerary: Media Luna, Camagüey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo

Buffalo: We just show to a German Cuban couple and a Cuban family our photo album when the Cubans start to giggle with the picture of several buffaloes in Thailand all at once and think that there are also many buffaloes in Cuba. Because we the joke do not understand mine them that there is here, however, only one buffalo. Now I am still more confused and thus the Cuban with the Germans explains to me is on the move that one in Cuba men two women have called generally buffalo (presumably because they have taken immediately two women on the horns)! The men them are meant with it, however, actually, although they have a firm relation or are married, with a foreign girl take up an other short relation, because it is a easy possibility is to be earned a lot of money. Clear that the Cuban protests the tourist from the bottom of the soul to love, however that this often only one professional occupational setting is appeared in our case in which the Cuban admits even in the presence of his patrons openly that this one pure "business connection" is. He says this us of course in Spanish, because thus his "darling" understands because no word and remains further in the faith that he loves them! The real lifelong companion or wife of the buffalo point of course therefore, however even if she is jealous she is reserved tactfully, because she has the easily earned in addition money of course also with pleasure. The female counterpart of the buffaloes is called, by the way, Jintera.
Street clap in Camagüey: From Camagüey with his small winding lanes in the Old Town the nicest women of Cuba should come., which is why one calls especially pretty women in completely Cuba as Camagüeyenserin. An other attraction of Camagüey is of the Plaza Carmen on whom in 1999 several bronze figures were put up which should show the everyday life in the provincial centre. Thus there is beside an old man to a handcart with sound jugs pushes and a round of women with the comfortable clap also a newspaper reader on a bank. When we just on one of the free benches sit the man goes past for the bronze newspaper reader model has stood, sits down beside his stand-in and spreads out his newspaper. As if we were half blind and had not noted who is he now he folds his newspaper and draws the attention of us to the fact that he was the model, before it turns to a family with a small girl which is completely inspired the original to be able to take able to find and to be able to take photos.
Trust is good, ...: From the Arab world is the saying "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel anyway." Yes sufficient. In a church in Camaguey, we then discovered a few Christians who seem the same precaution follow, for fear of theft, they have their bicycles during the worship precaution with the church.
Musicians: In the past we have always believed that one in Cuba constantly on the music and dancing. An image, from the Cuban tourism industry certainly like to maintain and with the "Buena Vista Social Club" worldwide broadcast in cinemas. On our journey through Cuba, we see musicians but then always only where there is also tourism. Otherwise, the Cubans seem not much to be musikbegeisterter rest of humanity as well. Only once have we seen a school class on the square in Bayamo music has made for himself, after having on the street had made any Marschierübungen.
Pizza: Ordinarily we eat in our lunchbreak bread and cheese (or something similar, according to availability), however, already after few days we have discovered that there is somewhere a pizza stove in Cuba almost in every place. The pizza stoves exist of old oil barrels which are filled to one thirdl with coal. The choice in pizzas is small, because beside the usual cheese pizza there is maximum one more pizza with ham or one with onions. However, the pizza ground is very tasty for German relations rather thickly. There is plate in the street states of course none and thus one gets the boiling hot pizza simply on a cut piece of cardboard passed. With the habit of the pizza bakers to fold the pizza in the middle, nevertheless, we cannot make friends and thus we open them over and over again directly what does not look so tasty though then completely, does to the taste, nevertheless, no demolition. A pizza costs everybody ordinarily costs 0.15 EUR (with onions then 0.21 EUR) and after we two have put away we are also nicely full every time.
Camellos: Means of transportation is rare in Cuba and thus is used what there is just available. Beside horses, horse carriages and ox's carts one meets on streets of Cuba, however, also on tractors with followers, converted Trucks and the so-called Camellos (camels), to the personal transport converted saddle tractors. All the same around which means of transportation it concerns, it is always full and the passengers resemble not seldom the famous sardines in the tin. To be packed together at the ¨humid and hot temperatures in a closed truck with umpteen other fellow-passengers (often there are only standing places there one so more people can advance) one of the more dubious pleasure is absolutely in Cuba.
Jardines del Rey: One are the gardens of the king (Jardines del Rey), an island group existing of about 400 coral islands Cuba on the Atlantic side are offshore. However, beside many water birds on the islands and in the mangrove woods live all included hotel arrangements have sat down in the king's gardens meanwhile also bulky to satisfy the longing of the predominantly European and Canadian tourists for the sun, beach and sea. However, in spite of more than 10,000 beds of the tourism industry still most place is left for the nature.
Stone ways: To connect the islands of the Jardines del Rey better to the mainland the Cuban tourism industry to Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo has built 17 km of "stone way" (Pedraplen). The Pedraplen built in 1980 leads by the level Bahia de Perros (dog bay), among the rest, the native country of gigantic dreams of flamingos and pelicans is. To guarantee the water exchange between both sides there is regularly tunnel whose shade is used with pleasure by crawfish and fish what draws of course pelicans and anglers equally. To cycle the feeling by the bicycle in the middle over the openly sea is breathtaking and just shortly after sunrise one has the feeling as skies and earth in the horizon would melt.
Cayo Coco: Thanks to his miles long sandy beaches and thanks to the crystal clear water Cayo Coco is the most popular holiday place of the all-inclusive tourists to Varadero. The vacationer's island does not deal with Cuba of course a lot, however, most vacationers want to relax anyhow only from her strenuous job sometimes something on white beaches with crystal clear water, and here of it there is really more than enough. Cayo Coco for Cubans "off limits" was earlier, because only three sea miles before the coast running important international Sea road opens of course high-class escape possibilities. While we on Cuba are, however, Raúl Castro lifts the law that to Cubans forbids to visit the facilities of the international tourism.
Dream beaches: The crystal clear water on coast of Cuba which seems to shine in the most different blue tones, turquoise tones and green tones is absolutely impressive. Especially amusing I find over and over again if one by a radiant blue wave which comes up to one, is able almost "look through". Nevertheless, unfortunately most beaches are left to the guests him all included hotels.
Beach party: We have found a nice beach in Cayo Guillermo and together with us is the host's group of a big hotel here which spends her free afternoon also on the beach. While Nadine to us what to the dinner cooks the hosts stand in a circle and dance to the music from a car radio roars. Besides, they hand round a rum bottle in the circle and every time if de DJ in the car radio the music puts out that which has the bottle just in the hand must take of course a strong gulp from it. Though we is invited in the play to take part also, nevertheless, are rather content to us with our noodles with tomato sauce. Then about evening a big Reseisebus comes first to the beach and a police car a little later then. Within few minutes after the arrival of the police the celebration is dissolved, everything is cleared up again, and the host's group is stowed away in the coach, because she has tonight one more appearance! 
Grasshoppers: On the beach with a Campismo comes all at once a boy to us around us two grasshoppers to give. Horrified Nadine rejects the present. So gigantic creatures are to her in no case funny and as a vegetarian she does not want to eat them anyhow. Nevertheless, the boy exists on the present, and leaves them to us there. Now Nadine recognises that both grasshoppers are made out of palms. She proceeds to the family around the boy once again for really deceiving the similar grasshoppers to thank, talks to the Cuban family here just a few holiday days on the beach has spent and can look with own eyes with at how the boy makes cleverly in the twinkling of an eye an other grasshopper for them.
The Blockade policy: Though officially a complete commercial blockade has covered the USA on Cuba, however, nevertheless, completely so seriously one does not seem to take it. In spite of all brinkmanship the USA belong because to ten most important trading partners of Cuba. Yearly food and feeds is imported in a value of 500 million US $ from the USA, so much more than goods in a value of from 302 million euros from Germany. If one still calculates the 1.2 milliard US $ there the exile Cubans yearly to her families transfer (in comparison with that the tourism industry plays just twice as much in the cash), then one can talk absolutely hardly more of a commercial blockade. In spite of that the Cubans explain the fact that it for them sooooooo badly goes over and over again with pleasure with the commercial blockade, however, apparently they overlook the fact with the fact that there are just 200 other countries in the world with which they can pursue trade. Rather it seems as if the Cubans lacked the necessary change for a big worldwide shopping stroll, and there people reluctantly the responsibility for themselves and her situation take over it is easy of course to give to somebody other for it the guilt (particularly if the culprit the USA are).

256th Weekly Report 21.04. -- 27.04.2008

Route: Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Moron, Cayo Santa Maria, Guayos, Trinidad

Drunk cyclist: On our way back of Cayo Coco a young Cuban cyclist meets us and 50 m before us he overthrows very sudden without evident reason face at the head on the street. We hurry of course immediately for the help and are surprised that he has not injured himself. The accident cause is fast cleared: Drunken stupor! José is in the beginning of 20 and means he is just on the way to Cayo Coco. Though in consideration of his state we doubt that he goes past to the police check post, however even if, are still absent him just 50 km and with headwind in the full afternoon heat. Nevertheless, we do not want to encourage him and thus we give him one of our full water bottles then José the water will need to fight not only because of the heat but also around his fire. Thankfully for the water José tells us that in Cuba the things not so are by far as they seem what he with the scanty words "Cuba is a plight" summarises. He would have stroked from Castro's regime the nose fully. There comes that his brother has fled from 2 weeks over Sea road going in Cayo Coco and would be now well in Texas. To know his brother at liberty during him here further on Cuba sticks is apparently too much for José and therefore the clutch is not fetched to the rum bottle too far. José wants to touch it his brother and flee also, which is why he is just with nothing but of his clothing on the body on the way to Cayo Coco. Today he will not even create it presumably any more to the police check post, however, we hope that he can soon be realised his dream of the freedom.
The cock of Moron: From her Spanish native country the town founders of Moron also brought a legend from 16 centuries. At that time the Spanish Moron was governed by a very dominant mayor who suppressed his citizens and exploited. He countered criticism with the saying that there can be only one cock on every dunghill, and it is just the cock of Moron. Nevertheless, sometime the citizens of Moron had the nose fully from her mayor, beat up him and threw him together with a plucked cock from the town. Now it is a plucked cock and now can cluck only like a chicken they called after him. At the moment Batistas came the ancient history again to the public and thus a bronze cock was put up. However, after the victory of the revolution the cock was destroyed, because he reminded of the odious dictator. Only in 1981 one remembered again that the cock symbolised, actually, the power of the people which has thrown his dictator without further ado and thus a bronze sculpture of the cock was put up once more in Moron. Nevertheless, the times change the subjects the same ones remain. Many just of the younger Cubans feel suppressed from Castro regime and her freedom robs, however, a little bit against it nobody acts familiar itself. The young Cubans again see to remember when time the ancient history of the cock of Moron, "pluck" her regime and placed before the Door.
Tobacco factory: In a village we discover rather by chance a small tobacco factory and curiously we watch the women at her work by an open window. After a few minutes the upper supervisor comes to us and loads us the factory, nevertheless, from the inside to visit, while the door attendant would pay attention to our bicycles. The cigars rolled here are determined for the Cuban market and come thus beside the whole tobacco sheets also small pieces with to the cigars. With the help of a small plastic mat the cigar has rolled in the twinkling of an eye. Afterwards the cigar ruffian comes to compression moulds of wood or plastic and is pressed during about 15-30 minutes (as long as to the next load has rolled). Now the cigar ruffian gets one more outside bowl. Interesting we think that the outside bowl with a glue of flour and water is stuck. For the cigars certain for the export in Havana any "confidential" magic cure which, nevertheless, also our leader does not know is used of course. In the cigar factory rules a loose comfortable atmosphere. The women talk comfortably during them to her craft follow. Though there are also a few men the cigars here roll, however, today shows up only one of them. The company is very loyal to state and thus there is specially a space to honour of the big children of Cuba and their heroic deeds. Under it also some photos of the time as Cuba Angola in his war in the 80th has supported. Proudly our leader tells us that also he in Angola was present as the Cuban revolutionary troops to the African country for the help have hurried as them therefore were asked. Then on parting we get as a gift even of every one more cigar of the house as memory.
Village rivalry: Who does not know villa Arriba and villa Abajo from the known television commercials. However, the both around the bet to celebrating (washing up) villages are not only a pure fiction. In Remedios two parts of town of El Carmen and San Salvador beginning on the 24th of December during 1 week around the bet celebrate because every year. Everything has started in the Christmas Eve in 1820 when the inhabitants of El Carmen reminded in the middle of the night her neighbours in San Salvador with a drum whirl of the Christmas fair. Next year the inhabitants of San Salvador got revenge in the same way and the custom was born. Since 1971 the quits celebrations of both parts of town are defeated by even firm rules and now thus the celebrating are judged by festival carriage, street decoration, dancers and fireworks. To profits is of course a question of the honour, however, also the losers had absolutely a rushing festival!!!!
Cayo Santa Maria: Though the Cayo Santa Maria also belonging to the king's gardens presumably lies in only 30 km of air line from Cayo Guillermo, however, to reach him we had to go only again back on the mainland to cycle then on the day after the next again out on the island world. More or less 150 km. While we on the way to Cayo Coco more by mangrove woods cycled the 46-km-long stone dam leads to the Cayo Santa Maria between some islets through almost exclusively about open water. The Cayo Santa Maria is still very peaceful, however, this will change absolutely if the tourism industry has finished the planned hotel arrangements with more than 10,000 beds. We find thanks to the recommendation from a Spanish to French cyclist's couple the Playa situated at the island end Blanca (white beach). On the beach there is merely the small house of an old sailor who is active now for the state enterprise "flora y fauna" and his time with it spends during the day the going past. He sells a couple of drinks to Tourists sell and then devotes itself in the evening to the fishing. Though the beach is not most beautiful, however, here quietly and peacefully and thus we whip for a night our tent.
Artist with French friends: With a lunchbreak we get to know Luis. Luis comes from Remedios and belongs there to the local theatrical group which is decisively involved with the creation of the move during the competition between both parts of town. Just he is on the way to a village in the area of Sancti spirit where there is meanwhile a similar party. Animated conversations have before long told themselves devotedly in he to us a lot about the peculiarities of his country. He himself has a small farm which he leaves, nevertheless, managed, because he is occupied himself too much with the theatrical group. On his farm he also has some cows who belong officially though to him about whom, however, the Cuban government has the control. Should Luis come sometime once on the mad idea to kill a cow and to sell he would be punished with it after his statement at the age of 20-30 years of prison with which the life of a cow is more valuable than the life of a person (10-15 years of prison with murder)! Of course most farmers also do not have registered cows, nevertheless, the risk that they are found by the state controllers is high. By his theatrical group Luis also has many friends in France who invite him also over and over again, however although he in France could apply easily for asylum he returns over and over again to Cuba, because he wants no problems with Castro's regime how he calls it. He does not have here though the financial prosperity like he could have him in France, however, he has a nice happy life and there him his French friends over and over again invite he also has to visit the possibility other countries. To sell his house and his farm and to leave does not come to him to then sense, because his native country is and anyway remains Cuba, with her culture, the loose life, the warm climate and many charming people. When he had had a look at our small photo album he means about the end only briefly: "Now you can safely die, because you have seen everything what there is to worth seeing in the world." Luckily he does not have here, however, quite right! 
Cameras and military service: We also find out from Luis that in the bigger towns of Cuba on the places often visited by tourists Supervision cameras gives to spy out whether Cubans have too much contact with foreigners. Cubans too much contacts with tourists have not held back or themselves otherwise system-compliant deficit points agree. Then with too many deficit points it goes from in the prison. However, one also has to acquire the possibility to himself pluses if one announces himself, for example, voluntarily to the military service. Thus there are with the military, on the one hand, the loyal regular soldiers and on the other side a whole series "of recalcitrant Cubans" only her image want to polish up or have to go!
School bread rolls for pigs: In Guayos we meet a South German for 14 years with a Cuban is married. While he a half of the year in Germany spends he lives the rest of the year here on Cuba and has integrated himself meanwhile quite well into the municipality. He operates to us our supposition that one in principle on Cuba everything agrees what wants to smudge one, the question is only where and whom one for it or must pay. Thus he is, for example, just with a bag with 7 crawfish on the way home, although crawfish may be offered officially only in state restaurants and the private sales are strictly forbidden. He also tells us that he and his woman hold a few pigs. Hence, regularly a few school children come past to him the cheese bread rolls them free of charge at school preserved for the pigs give, because they have no desire for cheese bread roll. As a countermove for it he brings to the children then over and over again a few T-shirts from Germany.
"No socialism kids": Just in the towns of Cuba the children and youngsters are anything but socialism kids. The clothing they carry there is in none of the state stores, because they get them just we her CD or player MP3 of a relative from the USA skilful. Clear that just young men no aspiration have to work if the family income by the dollar them the relationship from the USA sends more than only is protected which they exceed a normal salary around a multiple one. Instead of working one enjoys thus either the life or makes with his mates a few deals. As long as there are still enough system-compliant older Cubans, they the whole work for the state make gives everything is still nice and well. However, if in not too far future the Cuban state on the worker of the "No of socialism kids" depends it becomes narrow. We have anyhow the feeling that in any more too long brainwork does not last to these kids to the state hard will want, because they, on the one hand, no goat has to work and on the other hand, however, her freedom. It will become exciting.
12 EUR monthly: Converted 12 EUR per month one earns in Cuba, relatively no matter whether one is a farmer, cigar turner or head of department in a special clinic. In principle sounds after 12 EUR extremely a little, however, together with the food map, it does not let to free living space, free stream and water as well as subsidised special achievements like cinema, restaurants, transport..., nevertheless, meanwhile at all sooooo badly live (in the 80th and 90th this may have been different absolutely). For the price of 1.5 l of bottle of coke one gets thanks to the subsidies in a state restaurant, for example, 35 cheese bread rolls or 35 cigars. Clear the fact that many Cubans see of course different. Posts are desired, hence, with those one either a free company car at the public expense put agrees, because one can be of use of course also privately, or places in companies in their products are produced one exchanges well is able. As well as in many other socialist states, many Cubans try to earn an extra income in which they allow to go along in her factory what is possible around it later to exchange or to sell on the black market. Clear that accordingly a gigantic black economy existed in you we have, nevertheless, no idea as a foreigner.
Cuba in the international comparison: In spite of the easy living conditions Cuba does not stand there in the international comparison at all so badly. According to the Humanly Development index of UN, beside the Bruttoinlandsprodunkt also life expectancy and the alphabetization rate lay considered Cuba in 2006 on place 50 and therefore with the sophisticated countries (Germany place 21, Russia place 65, China place 81). Besides Cuba is also the only Latin American country without malnourished children. In principle the health service is trained very strongly and with a doctor per 164 inhabitants Cuba disposes in terms of percentage seen of more than twice as many doctors like Germany (1 doctor per 349 inhabitants) who are trained in addition still very well. Further Cuba over a thick net of hospitals disposes and thus it is to no miracles that the life expectancy lie for women with 79.85 years and for men with 75.11 years and also the baby's mortality rate lies with only 6.22 thousandths. Also in the training system the achievements of the socialist country impress. According to the educational index of UNESCO Cuba counted in 2004 together with Canada, Finland and South Korea to the countries with the highest developed educational area of the world. Also sportily small Cuba with his 11 million inhabitants is worthy of notice. In the Olympic games in Sydney in 2000 occupied Cuba astonishing 9 places in the medallion mirror of the nations and landed with it still before Great Britain! However, what does a really health system, a long life and a top education use to one if one is not free (travel freedom, right on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly...)?!
Creative begging: In comparison to the rich European tourists with whom many Cubans her salary compare without nevertheless also other achievements of the state to consider they cover, many Cubans believe themselves very poor. Hence, many also moneyed Cubans beg tourists and, besides, invent the most astonishing stories. Once we were asked by a Cuban, nevertheless, to buy at the supermarket oil which she would need for her baby (baby). Even better a Cuban of middle age was Nadine around money for her mother asked, because she would have cancer (the mother is presumably more than 70 years old). As Nadine asked whether her mother then not we all the other Cubans also her drugs free of charge from the state this would get the woman affirmed though, nevertheless, believed that she the money had to be able to buy with pleasure around her mother a bottle of coke!
Restaurants: The easy restaurants of the III class in Cuba often pass from hardly more than a tiled bar behind the sullen women subsidised easy dishes and snacks sell. The available line of products is on small little wooden boards written in a rack are inserted, or are pulled out if the product is sold off. Actually, almost everywhere there are with powder touched soft drinks, rum and cigars. With a little bit more luck one also finds cheese bread roll, one can discover egg bread roll and ham roll on the menu and in few special cases also spaghetti, rice with beans or even pizzas.
257th Weekly Report 28.04. -- 04.05.2008

Route: Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Playa Giron, Varadero
Jewellery box Trinidad: Trinidad does not belong to the most-visited towns of Cuba and this without reason. The marvellous colonial architecture of the Old Town provided with cobblestones as well as the everyday life give almost the feeling as if one was in a big open-air museum. His period of bloom experienced Trinidad fled as the French sugar barons at the end of the 18th century from Haiti and in Trinidad found a new one at home. In the Valle situated before the town gates de loose Ingenios 50 sugar mills originated thus during their 50 years later 1/3 of the Cuban sugar was produced. One can foresee the wealth of the sugar barons in the splendid colonial buildings in Trinidad also even today, even if the times have changed of course. Today Trinidad seems to live on the tourism and on account of the tourist masses itself here daily her rendezvous give it is nearly one miracle that the inhabitants of Trinidad are still so quiet and leave. The life in Trinidad goes comfortably his way and thus one meets even every now and then even the locals who take her birds with on a small walk or to the street pizza state around the corner.
Socialism and the alcohol: As well as already in the former socialist countries of East Europe also strikes us here in Cuba again how of course also during the day strong alcohol is consumed. Men somewhere sit together in a small round in the shade and a rum bottle allow to circle are no rare sight. Also men in the restaurants of the III class come around themselves her empty bottles to let fill in again. We come back just from the Playa Ancon (beach) and buy a few cheese bread rolls for tomorrow for the breakfast in an easy restaurant when older man comes in, gets silently a double rum put, drinks this with a big gulp, lays 2 pesos on the bar and has disappeared. The whole action has maybe lasted 30 seconds without somebody would even have said any word! 
Salsa on the stair: Directly beside the Inglesia Parroquial on the big stair in the Plaza mayor there rises every evening the hottest party of Trinidad. Tourists as well as locals flow out at 22:00 o'clock here around to the hot sounds the respective salsa tape to dancing or just to listen. Every tape plays about 1 half an hour to hour before them of another it is removed and the tape members by the rows sitting on the stair are a matter around her CDs of selling or of collecting tips. Also the local dancing instructors assemble here around her arts to present arms, to hit presumably in hope here on a solvent tourist from whom salsa hours would like to take. It is muggy-warm and thus the dancing in the most true sense of the word to the sweat work and thus to themselves will wipe the dancers after every round the sweat almost by the litre from the forehead. We are in two evenings on the salsa stair and experience twice a completely different image. While in the first evening more the Cubans and in particular also the older couples which had danced in the afternoon already in a cultural centre the audience put more tourists are her firmly rehearsed show in the second evening here before their one animation group departs.
Casa Particulares: Wild tents are not presumably forbidden in Cuba only yet because the government has not come yet ouch the idea that there is foreigner who make this real. Although as in the beginning were rather nervous we never had problems, even if we had difficulties sometimes because of many fences to find a camp site. Thus we have camped not only on lonesome beaches, lakes or irrigation canals, but also half in sugarcane fields or on hardly used ways. There are not favourable Hostels or youth hostels like in the rest of the world in Cuba, and thus we had to fall back in the towns then on the Casa Particulares. Casa Particulares are a spare room in private houses who must be paid, nevertheless, in foreign currency (CUC). There are the favourable Casa Particulares from 11 EUR and many of them have a rather high standard (own bath, fridge and air-conditioning). Nevertheless, the small hook for the Casab owner is, that they to the state a monthly all-inclusive from mind. 110 EUR must pay. If is the Casa is not booked up a lot, however if only few tourists the fun can come to become very expensive very quick (on a salary of 11 EUR per month). Thus these are then also no miracles that we are often appealed by the owners of the Casas as soon as we roll into a town, because they presumably often have no other choice. We have spent the night merely in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey and Trinidad in Casa Particulares, however, thus really warmly we have become, actually, only with our older lady in Havana. All the others wanted that we had to go always also with them to dinner, however, this was not in our budget, nevertheless, unfortunately, in it. 
Defects Toilets: Often we encounter in public places or restaurants to a sign that we have indicates that the toilets were broken. Most then hang a large handwritten cardboard sign on the toilet door with the following inscription: "Roto, no se moleste!" "Defect, they harass us why not." The toilets are of course not broken what determines if you just use them anyway, but the employees simply have no desire to clean it!
Family invitation: During a small break on the beach Nadine comes along as usual on the search for nice mussels. Quick she gets society of two girls whom they richly supply. Today the older one of the both has birthday, which is why the family spends a nice day on the beach. However, of many mussels enough and thus only the girls do not bring us a chilled coke tin and later the mother (Sonja) still brings us a whole plate fully with the tasty rice court which they have brought. We talk very nicely to Sonja and, finally, she invites us to herself after hare. We decline first, because we want to pose no problems to the family (we had belonged that the house can be taken from one for unlawful accommodating of foreigners and a shocking punishment is due), however, Sonja assures and several times that it there where they live no problems would give. Sonja and her family live about 40 km from here and because we must have already late afternoon we ourselves over again incredibly do the utmost to come even today what we create, however, in the pouring rain just still on time before advent of the darkness. The family lives in a very nice house directly beside the high street, however, there because of the strong rainfall just stream failure rules we are content with flashlights. Sonjas has an electric cooker which also does not function of course, and thus we offer to her that we can cook the dinner on our petrol cooker for the family. There still from the tasty rice court, for the rest, is, nevertheless, Sonja passes on it only this to jazz up over again and to eat. We prepare in the flashlight light the rice dish on our cooker, what for us though the everyday life for which to both girls is really exciting, however. Sonjas man had allowed itself a little bit too much rums on the beach and is still to be got with it occupied again a clear head, however, he performs us courageously society. When the dinner is ready, we must find out to our frightening that Sonja has prepared the dinner exclusively for us. They would have already eaten and thus they deny to themselves firmly us with the gigantic serving to help. We want to expel the girls not from her room and thus we whip on the terrace our tent. Grunt in the middle of the night then all at once dog barking and the loud. Sonjas man comes from the house, something fiddles around and afterwards there rules again rest. The next morning then we see that directly beside the house a big pigsty lies and get to know that it at night problems with one of the pigs gave. Though soy still asks us at least one day to remain, however, our time on Cuba leans towards the end and we must still cycle many kilometres to come again at the airport of Havana, so that we lack, unfortunately, the time and we must swing ourselves of heavy heart again on the wheels. A few days later Nadine from the found mussels makes two arm small chains for both girls whom we send together with the photos, however, the post has opened the package and has taken out the arm small chains and has delivered only the photos to the family! 
Tipping policy: The international tourism and in particular the tip politics mix up the socialist system of Cuba quite a lot. In particular the lavatory attendants at some places visited by many tourists (as for example in the salsa stair in Trinidad), can earn thus on one single day laxly this what a head of department earns in the month!!! Now clear one could be glad gigantically for the lavatory attendants who earn substantially, however, the consequence is natural that many intelligent young Cubans work much rather in the well paid-up tourism industry than waiter, doorman or something else or simply flee abroad to start as her spiritual potential, for example, as an engineer! Thus can move Cuba, although it to the countries with one of the best education systems of the world capital hardly belongs from it, because incredibly a lot of knowledge, talent and creativity are never used. 
Without words:
Pork bay: The USA did not want to accept the power loss over Cuba and the expropriations of the US companies of course simply so and thus they sent in 1961, 1500 from the CIA qualified exile Cubans to Cuba. 1500 exile Cubans should form on Cuba a bridgehead in then later already educated in the USA the a government in exile should be test-flown which should ask then officially the USA for help for the freeing from Cheerful Castro and his revolutionary troops. As far as so well, however, after John F. Kennedy (!) the president at that time, shortly before the invasion Cuban airports bomb read around the Cuban air force to switch off Castro got Cheerful wind of the thing and moved out all of a sudden with his revolutionary troops. As the exile Cubans then in the Playa Giron in the pork bay put in they were already expected. Within 24 hours the exile Cubans were encircled and chafed just 2 days later or arrested. Of the US aircraft carrier already before Cuba lay as a result turned away and the attack was repulsed.
Crabs, crabs, crabs...: Between the Playa Giron and the Playa Larga lies the native country of thousands of crabs and in particular every evening they come from their earth caves and come along on the way to the sea. Nevertheless, besides, they must cross the dangerously street what becomes daily hundreds of crabs the disaster, although there is virtually no traffic. We drive swerving line by the crabs who apparently hear nothing and react only to big movements and flee then with far stretched out scissors to the back and so often they flee from us., Among the rest, the crabs also seem to live on her congeners and then thus they become especially easily victims of the few cars. Actually, it is a miracle that we no cancer cross, nevertheless, have if once a car went past crashing the cancer tank already went for us by Mark and leg. The street is complete here and there with dead crabs littered and the reddish banquet does not exist of small little stones separate from crumbled cancer tanks. Very much to Nadines joy we must camp this night directly in the cancer country on the beach where it, nevertheless, actually, everywhere only was swarming so with the creatures and everywhere only cracks and rustles. I believe Nadine the whole night has closed no eye because of the fear one of the crabs could bite by the tent wall. The night toilet way was also stroked of course, because who wants to be pinched already by a cancer in the bottom. 
Even more crabs: The next morning then the crabs have crept away almost completely again in her holes and only a few quite courageous ones are on the move still. We have luck and with some tutoring we can take a few very nice nice pictures of the crabs.
Bathing fun: Not everywhere Cuba with white sandy beach is blest, however, on some rocky coasts there is to leaders with the help of those one from the water again on the rocks can climb. Though so a jump of the rocks in the delightfully blue shining sea has one not all days, however, after the nth jump, until we had, finally, a good photo, then it became even with too much.
Sugar and bread shopping: Shopping is exciting on Cuba though always a little bit, however, especially full of suspense it is always to be bought bread and sugar. There is bread though also in normal baker's, however, there is the bread is so aerial that it stops no five minutes. There is sugar merely in some foreign currency stores, so that Nadine lands regularly in the Libretta shops (there where one food with the food map comes). If it was not sent away immediately again what sometimes seemed in baker's, the history mostly ran off as follows: There one enters Nadine with her plastic bag armed the store in the normal stores of Cuba only loose food agrees and must bring the transport containers themselves. With customers as well as with the shop assistants change into embarrassed silence. One works after the technology that Nadine maybe directly again goes if one they simply ignore. After she has waited first of all for a while Nadine asks politely whether she could not buy some sugar. The silence stops, however, now the shop assistants together as well as with the customers exchange to themselves expressive looks. Nobody even says a word, but it looks in such a way, as if one clarifies whether somebody the courage has to take the floor or whether somebody has to argue a little bit the foreigner what to give. Sometime, these can be some minutes spread, a courageous shop assistant mostly takes the floor and means about her colleague:" Then give her just what", whereupon these Nadines plastic bag accepts around in a next room disappears. How much we now got depends now completely on what the shop assistant with the bag "just by what" understands, and this can reach from one to 1/4 full bags up to a full bag. Now follows the more difficult part: Nadine wants to pay! First becomes mostly direct sent away, however because Nadine the tactics knows already she insists furthermore on paying on it. There follows an other round of embarrassed silence and expressive looks. One of the shop assistants sometimes means:" She does not know it just better" (mine she acts with the fact that Nadine does not know that one here with the food map "makes purchases"). However, nevertheless, thanks to her stubbornness Nadine then mostly may pass sometime at least some money about the bar. Nevertheless, easier with the payment it is most with the Libretta baker where the price  can considerably sway then, however, between 0,002 EUR and 0.03 EUR per bread roll (670 bread rolls for 1 - EUR or 33 bread rolls for 1 EUR), depending on whether we may pay the subsidised price or the normal price.
258th Weekly Report 05.05. -- 09.05.2008

Route: Varadero, Havana
Varadero: Varadero is the most famous resort of Cuba with 50 hotels and beach resorts with over 15,000 beds all together which have settled on the 20-km-long sandy beach with delightfully clear water on a peninsula 130 km to the east of Havana. The construction boom was opened in the Varadero founded in 1887 by a 10-headed fishing family in 1930, as the US of industrialists to itself there a country estate for 338,000$ build read. There followed other well-to-do Americans and thus Varadero became a Cuban seaside resort in the 1950th and at that time climbed up to the most popular holiday destination in the Caribbean. After the Cuban revolution in the course of which the international tourism was fallen from favour to climb up a lot of Varadero in a long sleep, only in order 30 years later again like phoenix from the cinder. After the breakdown of the Soviet Union an economic crisis broke out because of foreign currency lack in Cuba, and the tourism in Varadero decisively contributed to an improvement of the situation in the whole country. Today Varadero is visited yearly from more than 1 million foreign tourists.

Toilet paper: We meet an American itself hard with it does to understand that we camp, actually, almost always wildly and, finally, he offers us from his good soft loo paper from the USA a role with the words: "Then must not always take him sheets." in.

To snorkels and diving: A few kilometres before the gates of Varadero lies of the Playa Roca, a small beach segment, thanks to an offshore coral reef a popular place to snorkel is. We borrow with the small restaurant a snorkel equipment and come along on around the underwater world to discover. There are witty proofs also some diving companies who bring of her customers from Varadero here to the diving, however because the water is very level here, us can observe beside the fish now still the divers who admire the same fish possibly 1-3m among us like us. Nevertheless, with progressing the low tide the water will always flatten, and then, finally, the divers also float in the surface. Anyhow an amusing sight.
Oxen on the way: While we cycle up just one of the precipitous Cuban mountains there came to us two oxen against one trunk move downhill. In this case nothing unusual, is actually to be discovered, however, by the owner of the oxen far and wide no track. We have been surprised, that the oxen drag the big trunk completely without supervision as well as a well trained dog on direct way home. Apparently the oxen can read our thoughts, because about 50 m below us insert them abruptly a break to eat some grass. We cycle further and only 10 minutes later, finally, we hit on the owners of the oxen, lumberjacks who transport an other trunk in the valley just with another ox's pair.
Operation Milagro: Under the name Operation Milagro Cuba has brought to life a sort of medicine tourism during the last years. As a countermove for political backing or for oil like in case of from Venezuela, poor citizens from other Latin-American countries can be operated here free of charge in particular on the eyes! D sharp offer has made Fildel Castro, by the way, also to the USA, however, this was probably rather a political manoeuvre.
Socialism school: The way with customers is to be handled in Cuba now and again quite a special and sometimes we have the impression that there must be somewhere a socialism school in which one learns all small delicacies and pinches. "We simply ignore them, maybe they go then from the same" method again we know already from Libretta shops and baker's. An other important tactics is "always nicely a customer after the other serve". Unusually the thing becomes only when, e.g., a pizza baker also sells soft drinks. I.e. if the person has ordered a pizza before one and has pushed the pizza baker the pizza just in the stove, he has of course no time so long to the pizza ready a few drinks are to be sold or to take orders, but he must wait only for it to the pizza is ready to be able to devote itself then fully to the next customer. In this regard quite a lot of pizza baker, nevertheless, still was excelled by the employees of some supermarkets. Highlight was here a supermarket in a specially counter also stationery were sold. Nadine wanted to buy merely fast a CD and even had a customer before himself when suddenly a cardboard was delivered. There were two shop assistants and thus one of them took the cardboard against around him in spite of long queue immediately to talk. Nevertheless, receipt of goods is something particularly important and thus the other shop assistant immediately put her sales talk with her customer, only to watch her colleague while unpacking. Though the package was not gigantic, however, a receipt of goods must be made of course quite conscientious and thus unpacking stretched in the length. However, instead of helping her colleague was content to themselves to observe the second shop assistant merely with it them. Then, "unfortunately", nevertheless, after 20 minutes the package was unpacked and while one shop assistant now again of her customer turned required her colleagues now of course first of all a break! Nevertheless, for the Cubans meanwhile waiting in a gigantic queue this seemed to be the most normal one of the world. This calmness presumably is also one of the reasons for the high life expectancy of the Cubans!
Birthday party: Directly before the gates of Havana we spend the last afternoon on the beach and even as we want to go I see a marvellous old Yank's sledge under a palm on the beach standing. I take a few photos and please, finally, still Nadine still to itself with her wheel beside the car to put to be able to shoot the "perfect photo". Even as Nadine on the way comes along the owner the car comes. Juan is glad gigantically that we like his car and now thus he wants of course with on the photo. Now, unfortunately, the sun disappears behind a cloud, however, now we get into conversation with Juan. Today Juan has birthday and celebrates him with his family here on the beach. Presumably there are not on Cuba yet child birthdays without rum and thus it is no miracle that Juan is already completely drunken now in the late afternoon. However, the alcohol does no demolition to his friendliness and openness. Though he would like to spend the night to us with pleasure in his house to invite, now however, thus near in the capital we would really like to cause to nobody difficulties so that we decline with thanks. Juan supposes that we decline only because of that, because we suppose that he then money of ourselves wants to have. Thus he immediately explains to us that he has no financial interest to us and he would be interested only in our friendship. Now Juan is in his element and although his tongue hard does itself to catch his thoughts in words he explains to us that he is a garage mechanic in his own small workshop. He would not earn so though a lot of money, but he would be very proud, nevertheless. Now almost contemptuously he believes that there are nowadays, nevertheless, more and more Cubans who neither want to work, nor fight, however, he is none of them. Juan is a witty friendly Cuban with the heart in the right spot and thus we regret that we have not met him already a few hours earlier.
Houses exchange: There is not a free flat market in Cuba and if one wants to move in another town, it goes virtually only when he there a place to live has. One can move so only to a place at which one has family or friends who allow to draw one with themselves, or if it at the place in one wants to pull somebody gives who wants to live there where one himself comes and is so ready to exchange his flat.
Hemmingway: The house in Ernest Miller Hemmingway of 1939 - in 1960 lived today lies still in a suburb of Havana. The house surrounded by a small park lies idyllic on a hill and from a small turret one can see even the sea. The house left virtually exact as it had left Hemmingway at that time, before he went to Spain and committed, finally, shortly after suicide. The house is moulder furnished (in particular for past), look, however, not excessively magnificent. Hemmingway loved books and at last comprehensive library the place went out to him for his 9000 books, so that he had even book shelves in the bath. However, beside many books one can also see even today his hunting trophies of his big game hunt travelling to Africa and many paintings of bullfight scenes during always still music from the original radio hums. . Because Hemmingway almost always guests had the table is also covered even today always for 3 people, just so one would expect that the author could bend any minute around the corner. Further the author also had to be very able to take a lot the call and thus there also is even today to some bars in Havana boast that the famous author has carried on drinking here many nights. Hemmingway also loved the ocean-going fishing and his boat Pilar lay at anchor in the neighbouring fishing village Cojimar. In Cojimar the fisherman Gregorio Fuentes who served as a model for the Hemmingsway the most famous novel "The old man and the sea" also lived by the way. As a Hemmingway for this novel, finally, the Nobel Prize for Literature received he was invited by a brewery from Havana to a receipt to his honour. Hemmingway which celebrated just the success with "his fishermen" and did not want to leave this took them without further ado everybody with on the receipt what they credit to him till this day still high. In the garden one can also admire Pilar who is renovated just by some carpenters. When I come 4 carpenters sit just side by side at the bank in the rear of the boat, as well as on the famous photo of the construction worker with her lunchbreak on a steel beam of a skyscraper high over New York. Each of them has another biography Hemmingway’s in the hands and has aroused enthusiasm like the small children show them to themselves mutually in particular the photos of Hemmingway’s adventure and results with the ocean-going fishing and with the big game hunt. This is one of many moments on our trip where I only one photo with the heart camera makes, because the normal photo would destroy everything.
Bicycle rickshaws: Partial up to 3 passengers the cyclists of the bicycle rickshas advance and are much slower, besides, by no means than us. We are absolutely fascinated, in particular because the steel horse with her motorcycle tyres and mostly without gear anything but racing motorcycles are!
Hairdresser: Shortly before the takeoff I go in Havana over again fast to the hairdresser and as in the whole world the hairdresser is also to be exchanged on Cuba a popular place around news and life profundities. As just my hair cut agrees I can listen in thus of an animated and passionately controlled discussion which turns on whether now the work is the hardest work in the agriculture as a tobacco farmer or as a sugarcane farmer. Nevertheless, at last the tobacco group gets the upper hand. Almost I would have thrown that the work of the banquet mowers takes second place absolutely to the other both in hardness in nothing, however, around essential is more monotonous and more dull, however, at last I keep my opinion for myself. Since what knows then already a foreigner! 
Depature from Cuba: Our flight goes in the early morning hours and there we about 2 hours need to cycle around from the city centre to the airport we decide to make this in the eve where we can ask a few more passers-by for the way to need. Then 1 km before the airport we also find a camp site where we spending the night. Then about 4:00 o'clock we get up, pack our things and cycle to the airport where we pack our whole equipment and the wheels in two bicycle cardboards and four pockets. First it still sees after problems with the wheels there the lady in the check In means, they would be too big, however because responsible in the check in no desire has to deal with us and the wheels at last everything has checked in without before been weighed to! Anyhow the lady in the check was occupied In, nevertheless, thus with the wheels that Nadine and me have separate seats, although the airplane is not even half-filled. Now it goes for us further after means and North America, the last continent of our trip!



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