Hallo Anji, how are you?
Here is my report of Cuba.
I was almost 5 weeks in Cuba. In order to improve my English skills, I will write a report about my vacation.
La Isla de la Juventud (The Isle of Youth) has many beauties that make it one of the most picturesque in Cuba. We stayed at the Colony Hotel near the National Marine Park of Punta Frances, an ideal site for the underwater adventure, diving, snorkelling and tours aboard of catamarans.
We dived a lot and in the crystal clear warm water we saw armies/schools of colourful fish, dolphins, sharks, turtles and corals in an impressive form. Once an eagle ray swam so close to me that he almost tore away my diving mask.
After a week we went by plane to Havana. Here we began our tour through the island.
Old Havana has baroque and neoclassical monuments and is one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements. In 1982 it got the status of a World Heritage Site, and since then is being restored little by little.
One of the most beautiful buildings is the "Palace of the Captain General," the former governor's palace. Also, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the port and the fortress on the eastern side of the entrance of the Bay, La Cabaña. Tourist attractions are the restored Old Town Square and the Obispo Street. The decaying colonial grandeur of Havana especially emerged in the 19 th century, giving the city an unmistakably fascinating morbid charm. Another attraction is the Place of the Revolution. The square has a monument to 142 meters high with the seated statue of the poet and freedom fighter José Martí. In the large area around the square are grouped many government buildings, which, like the monument, were built during the years before the Cuban Revolution. These include the Ministry of Interior with a mural of Che Guevara made of steel and the monumental buildings of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Cuba. On May Day, the square is filled with millions of people from all over the country, which were committed by the Communist Party. Not far from the centre of the revolution is the biggest cemetery in Latin America, the Christopher Columbus Cemetery.
In the evening we visited the famous Show of Tropicana. It was worth the price of 77 Euro plus 10 Euro for filming the show.
We were 4 days in Havana.
On the third day we visited the fishing village of Cojimar, where Ernest Hemingway stayed. Here he began his travels by boat and was inspired to write his novel "The Old Man and the Sea."
On the fourth day we went by bus to the west of the island. The Viñales Valley is very interesting. It has a stalactite cave; the name is Cueva del Indio and has a mural of prehistory. We also visited an orchid farm. The southern valley of Viñales in Pinar del Rio is a Biosphere Reserve.
Day 5: We visited the city of Cienfuegos and a crocodile farm.
Cienfuegos was the only city built by the French colonists; therefore, the architecture has a French influence. It is sharing the name with Cienfuegos, a Captain General in this time, in the island. The central square "Parque Jose Marti" is a World Heritage Site.
Then we visited a farm where crocodiles are raised.
Day 6: The City of Trinidad
It was founded in 1514 and is also a World Heritage Site.
One of the greatest tourist attractions is undoubtedly the Plaza Mayor, which has colonial era houses. The most important museums and the cathedral are on the Plaza Mayor. The colonial centre with about 600 meters in diameter and most of the houses are inhabited. Unlike similar beautiful cities, there are no hotels, restaurants and shops so the atmosphere is very quiet, although many tourists go through the cobblestone streets.
We tasted a delicious cocktail with rum, lemon, honey and crushed ice. It is called Canchánchara, you get it only in this city.
Day 7: Camagüey is one of the oldest cities in Cuba. The streets of the city were built in a maze for fear of a pirate invasion.
Day 8: We drove through a landscape that was dominated by cane fields. We reached Bayamo, the capital of the province Granma in eastern Cuba. In 1868 the battle of Bayamo during the War of Independence took place here. Pedro Figueredo, used it as a template for his song "The Bayamesa "which has been the Cuban national anthem since 1902.
Hasten to battle, men of Bayamo!
The motherland looks proudly to you;
Do not fear a glorious death,
Because to die for the fatherland is to live.
To live in chains is to live
In dishonour and ignominy,
Hear the clarion's call;
Hasten, brave ones, to battle!
We visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, or simply Charity Cachita. It is the only basilica in Cuba.
The Legend of the Virgin:
Some time around the year 1600, two native Indians, Rodrigo and Juan de Hoyos, together with a ten-year-old slave boy, Juan Moreno, went out looking for the salt needed to preserve the meat of the Barajagua slaughterhouse, which supplied the workers and inhabitants of "Santiago del Prado," now known as "El Cobre." That day, they were just able to reach Cayo Francés, halfway across the Bay of Nipe, where they encamped to escape the fury of a storm which would have torn their frail canoe to pieces.
Calm was restored with daybreak, and they took to the transparent sea. In the distance, they saw a white bundle floating on the waves and approaching them slowly. At first they took it for a sea bird. As it came closer, it seemed to be a girl and at last they were able to determine that it was a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the child on her right arm and with a gold cross in her left hand. The statue was fastened to a board with the inscription, "I am the Virgin of Charity."
According to the sworn testimony of witnesses, despite the recent storm and the motion of the waves, neither the figure of the Virgin, nor her clothing, was wet.
The image's original clothing was white, but the faithful have given her gold and silver coloured robes. Because Our Lady of Charity is a symbol of Cuban nationality, popular statues give her a white robe, a blue cloak and have the Child dressed in red: the colours of the Cuban flag. Nowadays the Virgin's dress, a copy of a very early one, is of heavy lamé with gold threads, and has the national Cuban shield embroidered on the skirt.
The simple folk have gotten used to the image of their "Cachita" with the small boat at her feet and in it the "Three Juans" who found her floating on the water. This detail is omitted in the oldest reproductions, which copied the original statue.
At the request of the veterans of the War of Independence, Our Lady of Charity was declared the patroness of Cuba by Benedict XV in 1916 and solemnly crowned in the Eucharistic Congress held in Santiago de Cuba in 1936. Pope Paul VI raised her sanctuary to the category of Basilica in 1977.
After many mysterious events that occurred around the image, it was taken to what would be his final sanctuary, a short distance away, on top of a hill near the copper mines.
Day 9: Santiago de Cuba
Founded in 1515, Santiago de Cuba is one of the most picturesque cities. Due to its geographical conditions, it was the first capital of Cuba. It is the cradle of the revolution, here began all political movements for freedom against slavery, colonialism and dictatorship. In the Céspedes Park is the Town Hall, from whose balcony Fidel Castro proclaimed the triumph of the revolution. As a former centre of the slave trade, the cultures of the French, Spanish and African are mixed in Santiago and in no part of the country it will be danced and sung as beautiful as here.
Day 10: The "Santa Ifigenia Cemetery" is a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. On the 7th of February, 1937 it was declared as a National Monument of Cuba,
Countless celebrities have been buried here, the Bacardi family members, victims of the Revolution, and Antonio Maceo a fighter against the Spanish colonial government, but also the famous Compay Segundo and "Pepe" Sanchez, outstanding musicians, singers and composers of the Buena Vista Social Club. The tombs sometimes are of marble or granite expensive and used for generations.
The visit is a must and the highlight of this tour is the tomb of José Martí. There is a regular change of the guard with the music blaring the national anthem of Cuba.
Do you know the group "Buena Vista Social Club"? You are here.
In the afternoon we visited the Casa de la Tova, where they played. Now young members are playing and singing beautiful jazz and Latin rhythm. It was a great experience.
Day 11: We went to Siboney Farm at the foot of the Sierra Maestra and visited the Castillo del Morro.
Today was a nice day because we started until 9:30. Normally we began at 7.30.
We went to Villa Siboney Farm, a small country house where the assault on the Moncada Barracks on 26 th of July of 1953 was prepared. This should be the first struggle of the revolutionaries around the Castro brothers, but ended with a broken car, then in an ambush outside the barracks. The house is pretty bland from the outside.
Threatening on a cliff of 60 meters on the eastern edge of the narrow entrance to the Bay of Santiago de Cuba stands the massive Castillo del Morro fortress. Similarities with El Morro in Havana are not random, its architect, in both cases was the Spanish military engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli. Construction began in 1590. With three times the trenches, several drawbridges, two symmetrical double walls and six different levels of the firing line. Since 1997, the Castillo de San Pedro del Morro is on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
Then we went to Baracoa, the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. It is situated in the province of Guantanamo. Before the revolution, Baracoa was accessible only by sea. Now we reached it by crossing the wide range of "Sierra del Purial". The way was very dangerous.
The Spanish conquistador and first governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez founded the city of Baracoa in 1511, on the same place where Christopher Columbus set his feet on Cuba and began his first voyage of discovery. This makes the Spanish settlement as the oldest on the island.
Day 12: Instead of flying from Baracoa to Havana, we had to take the bus at 5 in morning to Holguin airport. The route took 10 hours by bumpy roads and curves. It was a horror. We lost a whole day. I'm going to sue the agency for damages.
At 5 pm we reached the flight to Havana.
The next day we went to Varadero. Now we began the 14 day holiday on the beach. All inclusive ..... sun, sea, beach, meals, beverages (Champagne etc. many cocktails with rum, sometimes brown rum only, hmmmmm.) I had a nice big room (40 square metres) with a great terrace.
On the last day we saw an excellent water ballet on the huge swimming pool.
Sounds like my kind of holiday, lucky you! A few amendments needed, but otherwise a great piece of writing.
'shoals' of colourful fish.
19th century (no space after figures needed).
Delete 'to' before 142 metres high. (Meter is also British English and refers to water/gas/electric meters - measurements are written as 'metres').
We were in Havana for four days.
'french' influence (no capital needed on french unless it's part of a name/noun). e.g French New Guinea.
The colonial centre 'is' about 600 'metres' in diameter.
..in no part of the country 'will it be' danced.....
..it was declared a national monument of Cuba. ('as' not needed).
...also the famous ..... ('but' not needed).
'Compay' should this be 'Segundo Company' (second company).
The tombs 'are' sometimes of marble or expensive granite, and used for 'succeeding' generations.
A must and the highlight of the tour is the tomb of Jose Marti.
..and latin 'rythmns'....
Today was a nice day because we 'delayed' starting.....
..on the 26th (no space after figures) July 1953 ('of' not needed).
This should 'have' been.....
...settlement the oldest....('as' not needed).
5 a.m. or 'five in the morning'.
Hope all of that makes sense to you.
Best wishes, Anji