After months of hopping from one Caribbean island to the next the Chikungunya virus has arrived within 50km of Cuban shores. With confirmed cases in neighboring Haiti this disease has implications for the Cuban public health system, vector control campaign, and tourist industry.
During a recent excursion to The Pan de Guajaibón, western Cuba’s highest peak (701 meters), I learned how to get to one of Cuba’s most spectacular views, how pig thieves destroy rural livelihood, and which type of tree rat you keep as a pet and which you eat. (8 photos)
My adventure as an early adapter to what turns out to be old technology began last Monday when I received a much awaited text message from ETECSA, the Cuban phone company, advising that cell phones can now be linked to a Cuban email account.
Last week the Bocoy Rum Factory, the maker of Legendario brand rum, closed permanently with little notice to workers or the public. I didn’t read about this in newspapers or hear it from street gossip; rather I heard it from the workers themselves.
During the final week of January the locally famous Cuatro Caminos market in Havana, Cuba closed its doors to the public after more than 100 years of business under both capitalist and communist economic models. (7 photos)
Havana’s offerings of Comida Criolla mostly consist of overly greasy, yet surprisingly dry fare; usually served at room temperature. My definition of the national food of Cuba got a second look after I went to the newish restaurant Aqui in the Cerro neighborhood of the capitol.
During a trip to Pinar del Rio I remembered what it means to be treated as a nobody and met a community organizer who has a machete. I approached with caution. I am wary of tourist traps and the annoying, pushy men that spring them. (16 photos)
Cuba’s largest artisans fair, FIART, opens Monday to the public in its new location at the fortress overlooking the Havana harbor entrance. It will run through December 22. [The fair was scheduled to open Sunday but was put off a day for the national mourning declared for the death of Nelson Mandela.] (21 photos)
This month a 2.5 billion dollar a year tourist market opened within a hundred kilometers of the United States, but US citizens shouldn’t expect to reap any economic rewards. The Cuban Government continued its slow march toward economic decentralization by allowing private contractors to bid for jobs in the tourist sector.
I swear everything is slower in the Caribbean. However, my Cubana Airlines wall calendar affirms that time continues its steady countdown to the 2015 due-date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Cuba will be one of the few countries not asking for extensions on the majority of the UN’s homework assignments to the world.