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Cuba: So Close Yet So Far

World  (tags: Cuba, people, places, travel )

- 1737 days ago -
Cuba, one of the countries located off the southern coast of the United States, is a tropical island whcih is a beautiful country, even though Cuba has been the source of political and military debates for many decades. Video with Cuban Music - enjoy.

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Jason R (67)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 9:55 am
It's calling me! Beautiful!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 10:04 am
Map of Cuba - albinger. me

First - it is CooBah and not CubeAh and HaBana not HaVana An island that none of us has been to, (*wink, wink*) that is lush, green and dramatically beautiful.

The country itself was once a popular destination spot for tourists, as the historic cities, picturesque countryside and glistening beaches offered a travel spot suitable for a wide range of visitors.

5 Facts You Might Not Know

1 Cuba is officially called the Republic of Cuba, and the island nation sits in the warm water of the Caribbean. Due to the political upheaval and travel ban imposed against Americans for travel to Cuba for leisure purposes, many have forgotten over time that the island nation is as inviting for travel as other countries in the Caribbean.

2 Havana is the largest city in Cuba, and the historical significance of the city is strong enough that throughout the United States plenty of states have their own areas within larger cities, typically those areas with a large concentration of Cuban immigrants, which are referred to as Little Havana. Havana, while known for Cuba's infamous cigars, is not the capital of the country. Santiago de Cuba is the capital and is also the second largest city in the country.

3 Cuban cigars have long been coveted by cigar aficionados for decades, with the popularity of the hard to secure cigars increasing in popularity as an export ban imposed by other counties and levied on Cuba made finding good and traditional Cuban cigars almost impossible. The legend and lore behind Cuban cigars is that the temperate climate, rolling tradition and the hand rolling skills which have been passed down through generations produces a cigar like no other in the world. In fact, those visiting Cuba often find themselves puffing on a Cuban just to experience the thrill of finally being able to do so.

4 Cuban food is a coveted fare, found throughout the world as many people from Cuba have opened restaurants to share some of the culinary delights found throughout Cuba. The food in Cuba is a mix, taking cues from both Caribbean and Spanish cuisine, and thus Cuban food is spicy, hearty, intriguing and satisfying to a variety of tastes. Some of the most common Cuban dishes include shredded beef in a rich tomato sauce called ropa vieja and a litany of pork, fish and bean based dishes. Cuban cuisine also uses plantains as the tropical fruit is found in Cuba.

5 Cuba has a long and winding shoreline, which explains why the beachfront destinations were once the hot travel spots for the global elite. The warm Caribbean waters and white sandy beaches made Cuba a coveted travel spot for many years. Though political upheaval and travel warnings ceased the ability for vacationing to Cuba, the newly lifted sanctions have opened the doors up once again for many to experience all the joys the country has to offer.

10 Interesting Facts About Cuba: History

Cuban history is riddled with wars, rebellions, revolutions, and governmental disputes. Here are 10 interesting facts about Cuba’s history.

1. The US attempted to invade Cuba several times. In 1848, they decided to give up and offered Spain $100 million dollars for Cuba, but the offer was rejected.

2. The US ship “Maine” was blown up in the Havana Harbor in 1898. The cause of the explosion is still unknown, but the event, which killed over 250 men, sparked the beginning of the Spanish-American War.

3. The 1990s in Cuba are known as the “Special Period” due to the extreme economic struggles. There were several major shortages, such as fuel, paper, and even food. Electricity used was limited to 4 hours per day.

4. Up until 1993, Cubans were not allowed to own or use US dollars.

5. Cuba’s first war of independence was led by Carlos Manuel de Déspedes in 1868. The war lasted for 10 years, giving it the appropriate name of “The 10 Years War.”

6. The slave uprising of 1791 in Haiti greatly impacted Cuba. More than 300,000 French settlers fled Haiti and many of them ended up in Cuba. The French brought their sugarcane production expertise to the island, and to this day, Cuba is one of the largest producers of sugarcane in the world.

7. Jose Martí planned a revolution for a Free Cuba while in exile in the US during the 1890s. Although he was very focused on not repeating the mistakes of the recent 10 Years War, Martí was one of the first to die in the battles of 1896. Many blame this on his use of an easy-to-spot white horse. Martí is still recognized as a beloved martyr throughout Cuba today.

8. Between 1899 and 1902, Cuba was controlled by an American military government. During this time, the US forced a constitutional amendment, called the Platt Amendment onto Cuba. The amendment granted the US power to intervene in Cuban affairs whenever they believed it necessary. It also granted the US permission to use Guatanamo Bay as a naval base.

9. After the Tomás Estrada Palma and his entire government resigned due to an armed rebellion, the US briefly regained control of Cuba between 1906 and 1909. This period, known as the Second Intervention, was rather embarassing for Cuban citizens, as they had only been freed of the US a mere 4 years earlier.

10. In 2008, Fidel Castro, resigned as president due to health issues, after 49 years in power. He passed the presidency onto his brother, Raúl Castro.

Of course, the history of Cuba is far too complex to break down into a simple list. This is just a sample of
the historical events.

Traditional Cuban Foods:

Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Traditional Cuban cooking is primarily peasant cuisine that has little concern with measurements, order and timing. Most of the food is sauteed or slow-cooked over a low flame. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves. Many dishes use a sofrito as their basis. The sofrito consists of onion, green pepper, garlic, oregano, and ground pepper quick-fried in olive oil. The sofrito is what gives the food its flavor. It is used when cooking black beans, stews, many meat dishes, and tomato-based sauces. Meats and poultry are usually marinated in citrus juices, such as lime or sour orange juices, and then roasted over low heat until the meat is tender and literally falling off the bone. Another common staple to the Cuban diet are root vegetables such as yuca, malanga, and boniato, which are found in most Latin markets. These vegetables are flavored with a marinade, called mojo, which includes hot olive oil, lemon juice, sliced raw onions, garlic, cumin, and little water.

A typical Cuban breakfast consists of a tostada and cafe con leche. The tostada is a portion of Cuban bread which is buttered then toasted on an electric grill. The cafe con leche is a combination of strong, espresso coffee with warm milk.

Lunch consists of empanadas, chicken or meat turnovers, or cuban sandwiches. The sandwich could be a media noche (midnight sandwich), consisting of a slice of pork, ham, and swiss cheese and then topped with pickles and mustard on sweetened egg bread. The pan con bistec is a thin slice of palomilla steak on Cuban bread garnished with lettuce, tomatoes, and fried potato sticks. One may also order a side of mariquitas, thinly sliced plantain chips, to accompany their hearty sandwich.

For snack time, Cuban bakeries are famous for their finger foods, such as pastelitos, croquetas, bocaditos, and empanadas. Pastelitos are small flaky turnovers in various shapes filled with either meat, cheese, guava, or a combination of guava and cream cheese. Bocaditos are small bite size sandwiches layered with a ham spread.

Dinner will usually consist of a meat, chicken, or fish dish as the entree accompanied by white rice, black beans, and maduros, sweet fried plantains. At times, a small salad of sliced tomatos and onions or avocados might be added to the meal. The meal is followed by dessert, such as the typical flan, a Cuban caramel-flavored custard, and another shot of cafe cubano. Other equally popular alternatives for dessert are bread or rice puddings.


Kit B (276)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 10:09 am

I have some dear friends that arrived in the US on the last plane leaving Cuba. The food is not to be confused with traditional Spanish or Mexican foods, Cuban food is unique taking from the choices offered by the island.
Cuban food, yum, delightful, makes your tongue say Wow! I want more.

Full disclosure, I have never smoked a Cuban cigar, and that point I don't feel I have missed anything.


Ben O (154)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 10:15 am
You know what? -I have NOT been to Cuba, but I would really like to go there some day!

Bob P (394)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 10:28 am
thanks Kit hope to be there again in about a months time

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:18 am
Interesting and sounds delicious, thx Kit. But sorry to say, the FIRST thing coming to mind is 4269 days without justice at gitmo... Time for some more petitions to remind Obama of his commitment..-?!

Wolfgang W (235)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:39 am
You forgot to mention the revolution of 1959, that medical care and education for Cubans is completely free and that despite economic struggle Cuba still stands as an example for many Latin American countries.

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:40 am
I'd love to visit - if for nothing else, to try all the foods.

Wolfgang W (235)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:43 am
Cuba always has been a popular tourist destination, maybe not for US citizens, they had two currencies officially the Cuban Peso which carries Che Guevara on the 3-Peso note and inofficially US American dollars. A lot of old American cars from the 1950ies still roam the island.

Pat B (356)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 12:12 pm
It's a beautiful island. Friendly people, great food, and gorgeous beaches. Have been to (visited), the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, early 70's. Thank you, Kit for this grand tour.

Nicole W (646)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 12:37 pm
food descriptions making me very hungry, sound very tasty. beautiful island. ty for giving us the tour dear Kit

Sheila D (194)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 12:43 pm
Sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks.

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 1:02 pm
Thank you for sharing the stunning country and beautiful people of Cuba. I agree with Angelika. Gitmo must be shut down.

Vallee R (280)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 1:03 pm
Adoptive mother was born there and brother got stuck there on a boat there for about 10 days about15 years ago - would love to visit - but not going to make it - thanks

pam w (139)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 1:22 pm
If you go on an ''educational'' can do it. A friend who just returned tells me the poverty is overwhelming but people seem happy. I'd like to go, myself.

Barbara K (60)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 3:44 pm
Thanks, my friend, for another beautiful vacation via computer. I wish the US and Cuba would normalize relations and be friendly again. Hasn't it been long enough? Would love to vacation there. Beauty so close to home.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 5:27 pm

I didn't forget Wolfgang, but I have avoided the strongly political aspects to these journeys. I think many are well aware of the politics, and from Michael Moore's movie, "Sicko" they know about the Cuban health care.

Americans are going now, and simply not getting their passports stamped. The Cubans seem happy to "forget" to stamp the passports and just have the tourists 'come on down'.

Cuba does have a long history and much turmoil, the poverty is in part due to the limits of trading.

Ramona T (210)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 6:26 am
An end to the boycott is decades past due.

Yvette S (35)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 6:50 am
Thanks for sharing

Craig Pittman (52)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 9:18 am
It's a beautiful country with beautiful people. Thank you Kit.

Diane K (134)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 9:27 pm
Looks like an inviting island with colorful people. thanks Kit

marie C (163)
Friday September 20, 2013, 6:07 pm
Spending time with my adorable grandson so did not have much time to enjoy this trip maybe try again on Sunday
Thanks Kit

Past Member (0)
Sunday September 22, 2013, 9:30 am
I find Cuba a truly unique place and very beautiful too! Odd to see the vintage cars...time stands still there. Thx Kit

Wolfgang W (235)
Monday September 23, 2013, 3:35 am
watch this : and make your own opinion
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