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Stranger in a strange land

9 October 2014

The apartment I'm renting is right next door to the CDR president's -- the Comittee of Defense of the Revolution. Basically neighborhood watch only instead of measuring your lawn, he looks out for subversive activity and if you get ratted on you're in a lot of trouble.

Door to my apartment

The guy who owns the apartment takes me on a quick driving tour of the area, called Key West because it's similar to the Florida Key West where cigar rollers live(d).

The first restaurant we see is Cafe Brown, my mother's maiden name. Later, I get a "Cuban Sandwich" from them. It is a Cuban sandwich only in that it is a sandwich, served in Cuba. I also have a Tu Kola -- Cuban Coca-Cola. It's SWEET holy God. As I'm drinking it, the power comes back on. Much rejoicing.

The power cuts again once I get back -- no es facil, as they say. It gets dark outside and I decide to walk the Malecon after I notice my street -- San Lazaro -- is a block away.

What to say? It's gorgeous. Exhaust-clogged, but gorgeous. The ocean spray catches the streetlights and I breathe deeply. Salt air.

The Malecon

I stroll and find a seemingly empty ... bar? Restaurant? Gay club? Not entirely clear immediately, but they're showing a baseball game. Hell, it's why I'm here, right? I order another Tu Kola and sit.

I see ice cream and the name and realize ... Coppelita! It's a Coppelia franchise! The famous ice cream shoip in Havana!

Coppelia

The water takes my order -- un doble chocolate por favor -- and it's flipping delicious.

After, two of the waiters and I talk.

Where are you from?

America, el norte.

El norte?! I LOVE musica norteamericano!

Quien?

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys ... Nicki Minaj! (Much appreciative lewd gesturing)

We talk about the weather in Montana (Hace muy frio?!) Where Montana is in relation to Canada, Idaho, Washington state and (oddly) Minnesota.

I express sincerest wishes that Cuba and America can come together. El fin del bloqueo, says one of the waiters.

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Notes on a plane

  • Had to get a "fixer" of sorts in Cancun to get the plane ticket, hotel room for the night in Cancun and tourist visa for Cuba sorted. Pretty sure I saw him this morning at the Porsche dealership we passed going to the airport.

  • AeroMexico has FREE snacks. Folks, we've lost to the Mexicans on this one.

  • Coca-Cola Light. Instead of Diet. Like it's a pack of Camels.

  • The flight time was under 50 minutes. We spent more time in the plane on the ground in Mexico than we did in the air.