Islands in the stream, that is what we are…

Did I mention I was in Cuba? I was. A couple months ago Jane and Doug were planning on going and suggested Sean and I come. At the time, we said yes; at the last minute, we had crises of faith because we are poor, we kept thinking about how much work we could get done with a week off and because I’m the kind of beach-goer who wears SPF 70 and reads CanLit beneath beach towels. If I were a guy, I would get sand kicked in my pasty-white, bespectacled face by all the volley-ball-playing hunks.

In the end, a cheap price tag , minor cajoling on Jane’s part, and the promise of rum, cigars and Hemingway sealed the deal. Thank God because it was awesome once we got past all the hepatitis shots and flying.

I will admit – all the freebies (wine, snacks, champagne, dinner, movies) succeeded in distracting me slightly from certain death but I still HATE flying. Every sound the plane makes convinces me we’re going to die. Whenever the stewardesses look at each other I think it’s code for something. I spend half my time waiting for the engine to sputter and then to hear the high-pitched whine I’m sure a plane makes when it’s falling, and half the time focussing my psychic energies on keeping the plane in the air.

Good news – it worked. Again. We landed in one piece. Now where are our refills?

SAM_3011 (Large)

First order of business was to buy some parking lot beers from a guy at the airport and then take a bus to our hotel in Varadero, where we explored the grounds in the darkness. Warning: skinny dipping ahead. I won’t Jane names…er, name names…

SAM_3019 (Large)

The light of day was a different story (for us anyway, but we were the only two girls wearing one-piece bathing suits in the whole of Cuba).

Here’s clothed Jane almost winning a bottle of rum in a poolside music trivia contest. I think she won it fair and square but it was tough to pick a bare-knuckle fight with the “winner” when his kids were watching.

SAM_3034 (Large)

Most of day one was spent in bathing suits – swimming in the pool and kayaking and paddle-boating in the sea. Day two we went into Varadero. It’s a hugely touristy city, but still worth seeing. The buildings are amazing and we stumbled into a super creepy and abandoned amusement park with a goat tied to the roller coaster. So that was pretty cool.

SAM_3054 (Large)

SAM_3060 (Large)

SAM_3066 (Large)

SAM_3071 (Large)


SAM_3083 (Large)

Oh yeah, the cars! OLD. CARS. EVERYWHERE.

Cars2 (Large)

Not to mention the vintage Triumphs and the number of bikes that had sidecars. We saw sooooooo many the day we rented a car and drove to Havana…or rather, the day Doug rented a car and drove us to Havana while we ran lookout so he wouldn’t hit the various things that line the sides and centres of a Cuban highway. Like what, you ask? Ooooooh, you know, people hitchhiking, kids playing tag, steers, horses, flaming barrels of gas serving as lamps while people fix their cars in the middle of the road. The uje.

SAM_3114 (Large)

SAM_3129 (Large)

Havana was crumbling and beautiful and loud and wild and amazing. I have about 200 photos of buildings, but tried to narrow it down for you here.

SAM_3135 (Large)

SAM_3140 (Large)

SAM_3155 (Large)

SAM_3159 (Large)

SAM_3162 (Large)

Windows (Large)

The above and below shots were taken in the Museum of the Revolution. It used to be the presidential palace and is pretty unbelievable, both in terms of a building and the story it tells now.

SAM_3183 (Large)

SAM_3212 (Large)

SAM_3177 (Large)

SAM_3210 (Large)

SAM_3218 (Large)

SAM_3233 (Large)

SAM_3234 (Large)

Why wouldn’t this be built to code?

SAM_3235 (Large)

SAM_3258 (Large)

We ate at Los Nardos and found a microbrewery…

SAM_3141 (Large)

SAM_3245 (Large)

SAM_3260 (Large)

SAM_3262 (Large)

SAM_3275 (Large)

SAM_3285 (Large)

SAM_3290 (Large)

SAM_3291 (Large)

It was for sure the highlight. Other than Havana, we ate tonnes more food at places like…I forget the name, but the Buena Vista Social Club hung there. We went to a whack of cabarets, including this one at Varadero’s oldest hotel, which was built in the 20s…

Dancing (Large)

SAM_3489 (Large)

…we fell in love in all the designated areas…

Love (Large)

SAM_3313 (Large)

One night Jane and Doug went exploring this rusty, busted-down fortress with only the flash of a camera to light their way…

Castle (Large)

We rode in some sweet old cabs…

Cars (Large)

We saw tonnes of animals…

Pets (Large)

And though we didn’t get to visit Hemingway’s Havana house due to a misunderstanding about its location, we did the next best thing, which was go Marlin fishing (see more here) with a guy who grew up in Cojimar – the place that inspired the setting for The Old Man and the Sea.


SAM_3370 (Large)

SAM_3375 (Large)

Below is a photojournalistic account of Jane’s emotional reaction to the adventure…

Fish (Large)

In case you can’t tell, it goes 1) Yeah, this is going to be awesome, reeling in a fish! Dun diddle un diddle un dun dun dun, BARRACUDA! 2) Shit, they have teeth… 3) Fewf, that was intense. Now time for a drink and some avasting ye mateys!

SAM_3459 (Large)

SAM_3465 (Large)

After that we flew home through a ton of turbulence and watched all of our souvenirs break the second they hit Canadian soil – Doug’s rum, my ring, Sean’s bag. I know about the curse if you take stuff away from Hawaii, but does Cuba have its own? Quite possibly. Let me go back and test it out so you know for when you go. It’s a sacrifice, sure, but I’m a giver. Always looking out for others. No, don’t thank me…


  1. Jane
    January 28, 2013 - Reply

    We are breaking up because 2 of the first 3 pictures on this blog are 1) of me naked and 2) of me in that bathing suit on that chair.

    • amykenny
      January 28, 2013

      It’s not Vegas. The rule in Cuba is that what happens in Cuba stays online for the world to see.

  2. COR!
    January 29, 2013 - Reply

    Love the photos Benj!

Drop a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *