Archive for the 'Caribbean' Category

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While 70% of US Citizens favor dropping all restrictions for traveling to Cuba, President Trump , delivering on a campaign promise to a vocal minority in Miami, has reimposed restrictions on most individual travel to Cuba. These will likely take effect in the coming months. The purpose of the restrictions is to help individual Cubans in the tourism sector. Thankfully, TotalAdventure trips fall into that category. We have amazing trips that see the real Cuba, working and visiting with local people.

There are 3 places left on Cuba Explorer – 9 Days in August for $ 2199.

Also in August Cuba Rhythms – Only $ 944 !

The Cuba Colonial trip is also in August.  6 Places left at $ 2499.

Complete List of TotalAdventure Cuba Adventures 

Mar 16th
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TotalAdventure returned to Cuba from January 12th to 19th . Havana has changed quite a bit – due to the relaxed US business and tourism policies. Many new businesses have started – and following in the footsteps of China in the 1980s – a dual system is taking hold. There are more cars – Havana may see it’s first traffic jam  in 60 years, about 5 years from now. The weather this year was calmer and warmer, with daytime highs about 78 (26 C) and lows about 62. (16C) Above is the Malecón in the mid afternoon, taken from El Morro.

The Fathom – Bound For Miami.

A reminder of less peaceful times – 1961.

On Avenida Galiano.

Art Deco -style pharmacy.

Avenue Galiano.

Revolution Square.

1937 Chevy.

Near Downtown.

Local Block Committee.

One of the newer American cars – the 1960 Ford Fairlane.

In memory of the recently departed leader.

At The Museum of the Revolution.

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On Sunday morning, January 15th TotalAdventure motored to Viñales , in Pinar del Río , Cuba’s westernmost region, about 2 1/2 hours from Havana.

The land is punctuated by limestone mountains jutting out of the farmland, much like rock formations in South China and Southeast Asia – caused by millions of years of erosion.

A mountain panorama. Hard to believe this area is so close to Florida.

Burning off brush. Flames were so hot that skin felt like burning from 4 meters away.

TotalAdventure dined twice at Finca Agroecoligica El Paraiso. They do not yet have their own website. Everything is produced on the land ,including this recently slaughtered pig, who makes excellent lechon asado .

All vegetables are grown on the restaurant’s land as well. This guarantees supplies and does not strain the public food distribution system .Everything is sustainable and recyclable.

Huge portions for 12 CUC per diner.

The old farmhouse is busy day and night. Some say – one of the best meals in Cuba. Beer is not served as it comes in disposable bottles . Instead – local rum from reusable bottles !

El Paraiso by night.

Driving to the guest house after dinner.

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On Monday, January 16 ,TotalAdventure drove to Esenada Nombre de Dios on the Gulf of Mexico. Other than Mexico itself, it is the only place on the Gulf where one can actually see mountains – the limestone monoliths of Viñales about 30 miles distant.

As the peninsula was only 30 miles away, we thought it would be a quick morning trip to explore’s the area’s possibility as an eco-resort ( not likely ) and a  snorkel swim. However, the roads were in serious need of repaving and turned out to be an all day excursion instead.

Iconic lighthouse, about half way between Florida and Mexico.

The Gulf beaches are clean and peaceful. TotalAdventure is exploring areas that might be good for an eco-resort – but the coral reef is not well developed in this area.

A deserted subtropic isle.

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If cigar aficionados want to go to the source – Pinar del Río grows the finest tobacco for Havana cigars. The field above produces for Montecristo.

The Westernmost part of Cuba.

Drying leaf. The process takes about a month.

Rolling Montecristo -quality leaf.

Smoking a fresh handroll. Team TotalAdventure with the farmer.

Cuban cigars are not yet sold in the United States, but travelers may bring in up to $ 400 worth of cigars duty free. That’s about $ 145 above.

 

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The flight from Miami to Havana is only 45 minutes, but it’s a trip back in time. To 1959.

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TotalAdventure flew on the newly relaunched Eastern Airlines – actually a charter by Havana Air. Real commercial fights will start later this year.

 

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Arrival at  Aeropuerto José  Martí.

TotalAdventure was in Cuba in order to research how to set up eco-friendly and cultural trips to be led by local individuals. TotalAdventure operates just like AirBnb – with adventures instead of apartments. Our challenge is finding reputable guides offering unique experiences. One of the biggest difficulties is limited internet access – Wi-Fi is very expensive for the average person and it is generally not available in private homes.

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The view from TotalAdventure’s $ 47 a night AirBnb apartment.

As the economy slowly transitions, Total Adventure does it’s best to patronize and work with individuals and families. Instead of a hotel, a local apartment or house. And always a private car and driver – whether a city taxi ride, a long trip from Havana to Trinidad and back , or a day tour in the Trinidad region.

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Taxi from the airport to apartment – 1953 Chevy !

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The neighborhood in Habana Vieja.

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Cuba is the world’s largest renovation project !

 

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All the Cuba posts were uploaded on the sameday, after return to Miami, due to limited access in Cuba. The final post is “Cuba Road Trip 2016”  – a real life video !

For current adventures in Cuba CLICK HERE.

Feb 17th
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Military display near El Morro.

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Che is everywhere.

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Hemingway is everywhere.

 

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Like Miami beach – Art Deco.

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Controls for the Hershey Train.

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba. There is a twin building in Palm Beach – the Biltmore.

 

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1962.

 

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1962.

 

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Saturday Morning March.

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Time standing still.


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Nightlife – at an old Hemingway favorite.

For current adventures in Cuba CLICK HERE.

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Havana is best explored on foot on riding in a 1950s American car.

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Rolling works of art.

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Waves slamming the Malecón on a winter’s day. On January 29th, the temperature ranged from 57 to 68. ( 14 to 20 C)

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Rationed Food Store. All citizens are issued ration cards to buy a small amount of basic staples every month. Prices are low and subsidized. A limit of five eggs per person per month. Anything beyond that must be purchased in convertible CUC currency  at market price.

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Cigarettes are about 20 cents a pack.

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Vegetable shop.

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Socialist inspiration in the shops.


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Free fuel from Venezuela.

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Ready to start the day learning the principles of Marx and Lenin, and of course, Fidel.

For current adventures in Cuba CLICK HERE.

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On Sunday, January 31 TotalAdventure hired a late model Chinese car for the 180 mile, 320 km drive from Havana to the colonial city of Trinidad. As we can see in the video below, the modern four lane freeway is almost always empty. No traffic jams in Cuba !

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KM 141 Rest Stop.

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Along the shores of the Caribbean.

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Propaganda, not advertising.

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Only one still alive.

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In late afternoon we arrived in Trinidad.

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In keeping with our philosophy of helping local people wherever possible and having a more authentic experience, TotalAdventure stayed in a private compound – casita below.

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Dinner – one of the better meals of the trip – baked Florida lobster – $ 10.

For current adventures in Cuba CLICK HERE.

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Monday, February 1st, dawned warm and springlike, with TotalAdventure being awakened by crowing roosters. The countryside near Trinidad reaches from high mountains to white sand Caribbean beaches.

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A 1951 Chevy was hired for the day. For a 65 year old car, it ran great , though the driver would not take it over a high mountain pass.

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We drove to a finca for horseback riding.

IMG_5441Lunch was being prepared – boiled yuca.

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In Cuba, rum flows like water.

IMG_5457 (1)Off on a trail to the mountains.

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To a large cenote – cool water in a cave – perfect after riding in the hot sun.

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Torre Manacas Iznaga – 200 years old, 200 feet tall , 61 meters – built by sugar cane plantation slaves in 1816.

For current adventures in Cuba CLICK HERE.