Yes, Cuba….finally! Sorry to have kept you hanging for so long, but internet is not the easiest thing to find here on La Isla. To show you just how normal Cuban’s go about getting a little WiFi, check out (note 1). You missed the notes, didn’t ya?
So I started out in Havana and have worked my way all the way to Baracoa on the extreme north east edge of the island. Love Baracoa, and I’ve hunkered down here for several days to kick back and get some sun. But, alas, it’s raining! That’s ok….at least it’s not snow, and I know some of you are up to your you know whats in snow right now!
So to relieve a little of the dreariness that 2+ feet of snow may bring on…..let’s get busy showing you some of Cuba!
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are there. Waves crashing against a mildewed sea wall; a young couple cavorting in a dark, dilapidated alley; guitars and voices harmonizing over a syncopated drum rhythm; sunlight slanting across rotten, peeling paintwork; a handsome youth in a guayabera shirt leaning against a Lada; the smell of deisel fumes and cheap aftershave mingle with the second hand smoke of a fat Cohiba cigar; Che Guevara (more on him later) on a billboard, a banknote, a key chain, a t-shirt…….
No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and -despite more than 50 years of withering neglect- too damn beautiful.
Approaching the Cuban coast at sunset…….
We will go into the food scene, or lack of, in Cuba in another post…..for now, enjoy this foto of a piece of “pizza” that I refused to eat. Pepperoni my ass.
Then I headed to Playa Giron, Bay of Pigs
What the Cubans call Playa Girón, the rest of the world has come to know as The Bay of Pigs, a disastrous attempt by the Kennedy administration to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro.
Concieved in 1959 by the Eisenhower administration (during which my sister Kathy was born…..) and headed up by the Deputy Director of the CIA, the plan to initiate a program of covert action against the Castro regime was given official sanction on March 17, 1960. There was but one proviso: no US troops were to be used in combat.
The CIA modeled its operation on the 1954 overthrow of the left-leaning government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. However, by the time President Kennedy was briefed on the proceedings in November 1960, the project had mushroomed into a full scale invasion backed by a 1,400 strong force of CIA trained Cuban exiles and financed with a military budget of US$13 million.
Activated on April 15, 1961, the invasion was a disaster from start to finish. Intending to wipe out the Cuban Air Force on the ground, US planes painted in Cuban Air Force colors (and flown by Cuban exile pilots) missed most of their intended targets.Castro, who had been forewarned of the plans, had scrambled his air force the previous week. Hence, when the invaders landed at Playa Girón two days later, Cuban sea furies were able to promptly sink two of their supply ships and leave a for e of 1,400 men stranded on the beach.
Abandoned on the beaches, without supplies or military back-up, the invaders were doomed. There were 114 killed in skirmishes and a further 1,189 captured. The prisoners were returned to the US a year later in return for US$53 million worth of food and medicine.
The consequences For the US were far reaching. “Socialism or death!” thundered a defiant Castro at a funeral service for the seven Cubans killed in the invasion.The Revolution had swung irrevocably toward the Soviet Union.
So, I visited Playa Girón and it was really nice.
And of course there was a museum all about the Yanqui invasion…..
Ok guys……thats all for now. I need a beer and a shot of rum after all this posting…..I’m outta practice!
If your on the East Coast, stay safe and warm!!!!
I’ll be back soon with more of Cuba, including awesome Cienfuegos and too much fun at the parranda in Remedios!