Day two of the supporters group Cuban adventure!
Hola, this is from French Hornist Katie Dunkle’s mom, Liz Dunkle. This is day two of the supporters group Cuban adventure paralleling our OYO musical tour.
We are a group of 36 family, friends, and supporters, guided by our lovely local guides Luiz and Lucie, as we explore the capital city of Havana, and surrounding areas in Central Cuba. While we mostly came in pairs and small groups, we come together to share this probably once in a lifetime experience. In our 24 hours together,. we are already bonding and having a great time.
We all met at SFO Thur night July 7, one day later after our performers embarked. With our layovers and conservative scheduling, we did not get to our hotel destination for another 15 hours or so. As I expected, navigating through the many necessary custom and security checkpoints with 36 people was challenging, but we all managed to meet with Luis and Lucie, board our air conditioned bus to the Hotel Caprl. We were welcomed with a sunset non alcoholic cocktail and a lovely group of local young people playing music in the lobby. Ahh, we finally made it!
What was striking to me was the contrast of living conditions to the relative luxury that we experienced. In our beautiful state owned air conditioned bus, we drove through impoverished neighborhoods, viewing wretched buildings used for schools, hospitals, storefronts and government. Yet just around the corner were huge statues shrines to national heroes. Not to disappoint, it was a delight to see those famous American cars from the 1950’s all alive and well on the streets of Havana. They’re a definite throwback and it makes me wonder just why we Americans don’t maintain our old relics like the Cubans. Also on the road are cars from Russia, France, Korea, China among others.
The Hotel Capri was a lovely overnight stop for us. There was a swimming pool upstairs, full bars, two restaurants, impressive breakfast buffet. Rooms were clean and maybe spartan for American standards. Still it was comfortable with our normal creature comforts of air conditioning, warm shower, flat screen TV, refrigerator full of overpriced beverages for our purchases. Many of us took a short a short tour to a nearby world renowned National Hotel, accommodations for the wealthy and famous.
We enjoyed fine dining at the Restaurant Atelier, a privately owned business in a converted mansion about a 10 minute drive from our hotel. Up on the rooftop, we were treated to Cuba rum and coke, a platter of assorted appetizers, a shredded beef Ropa Vieja, lobster, roast chicken, the ubiquitous black beans and rice, ending with a chocolate brownie and strawberry ice cream. All of this delicious cuisine plus the long journey here exhausted the most energetic of us to, ready for a relaxing rest of the night. .
It’s a little after noontime now and we’re in the middle of a bus ride to our next destination, Cienfuegos, a maritime city with one of the most captivating bays in the Caribbean seas, three hours southeast of Havana. Because safe water consumption is a concern, our tour hosts organized a water kitty to provide hundreds of bottles of waters for our access. We won’t be dehydrated!