Cuba lies 90 miles south of Key West, FL, between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, east of Mexico and northwest of Jamaica. Now I have been to each island mentioned above, except Haiti. (hmm… Haiti)
Although this was my first time to Cuba, it was the 30th times for our team. Year after year they showered compassion to the Cuban people providing the Cuban churches with generous material and spiritual support long before the lift of embargo. Each year new members were added to the Cuba team, we were so privileged to be part of this wonderful group.
Each year the team experienced a bit differently than the year before. This time we stayed at the two beautiful guesthouses.
Barbara was the hostess of one guesthouse, and also our cook for breakfast. Each day breakfast began with a plate of fresh fruits of papaya, banana, guava and pineapple slices. Toasts were served with butter and home-made pineapple marmalade, the best I’ve ever had! Eggs were either fried or scrambled; probably because of our language barrier, Barbara thought “sunny side up” meant “natural” or raw egg. Huh… no… I didn’t want to swallow a raw egg in the morning. 🙂
Barbara also served us deliciously home-made juice, such as papaya, guava or pineapple, and coffee. A word for Cuban coffee, it was STRONG! A little cup of the Cuban coffee would keep me going for a whole day! Coffee was served black, with sugar and/or heated whole milk. By the end of the week, I grew addicted to Cuban coffee.
Lunch at church was usually a simple sandwich with ham and cheese. Naturally we opted for lunch from street vendors in downtown Havana. This fried chicken (three pieces) costed only two dollars, juicy and full of flavor.
We had lunch out once at Matanzas. Great pork!
For something to munch on while scrolling the street, you might pick a bag of Churros for half a dollar or Corn on the cob with mayonnaise or a sprinkle of salt.
In Cuba, we used bottled water for drinking as well as for brushing teeth. The rule for shower in our guesthouse was to turn off the water whenever you were not ACTIVELY rinsing; otherwise you would suffer the consequence of running out of hot water. I am speaking from my personal experience. Also check whether you had water in the tank BEFORE you used the commode, otherwise you might risk have nothing to flush with. Again, my personal experience. 🙂
Rice and Beans was Cuban’s staple dish. We had rice and beans almost every night at church. In my opinion, New Orleans had the best rice and beans, Cuban version came very close as the runner up. Our chefs knew how to make delicious Chicken and pork; we were told that beef and seafood were not readily available/affordable for common people.
Our last dinner was at a Chinese restaurant “Tien Tan 天璮饭店” in China town. If you missed seeing the archway at the entrance to Chinatown, you would not have guessed you were in China town. There were very few Chinese people and the structures of the many buildings resembled anything but China town. My hubby and I were the only Chinese we saw. 🙂
Finally, a few words about gifts. Cuban cigars and coffee were the gifts we brought back home, they were easily available in Old Havana. Since the ease of travel to Cuba, US customs lifts the import limits on Cuban cigars. If you are new to Cuban cigars, “Romeo y Julieta” and “Cohiba” are two popular brands. Also the coffee we purchased at the Old Havana tourist area was the identical price as in local market.