Roses are red, violets are blue...

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mission: Find old Cuban poet dude in some random Cuban town. Why? It's a long story. And, frankly, I'm not entirely sure if I know exactly. it's something like this - a few years ago, mel's cute pharmacist's wife's cousin's mother's television repairman visited Cuba and met this random old Cuban poet dude in some random cuban town. They became mates and mel's cute pharmacist's wife's cousin's mother's television repairman took the random old cuban poet dude's poetry home and had it translated into english. Somehow, the word got to mel's cute pharmacist's wife's cousin's mother's television repairman that Mel was going to Cuba and asked mel, via his client's daughter's cousin's husband, to track him down and give him the translated version. I think... Brilliant.

So, we arrive in th main plaza of the sleepy, picturesque town of Remedios knowing virtually nothing about this dude. Apparently he drinks. That's about it - and given this somewhat limited knwoledge, we anticipated a long day of running around this lovely cuban town, piecing clues together like an epidose of Without a Trace. "We're looking for omar the Poet" we say in Spanish at the bar overlooking the swaying palms of the plaza. The bat lady looks at us. "Omar? The poet?" She shouts across the bar to some random dude polishing off his third pre-11am beer, in rapid, cmopletely unintelligable Cubano Spanish. He stands up, looks around a bit, and shouted back across the bar to another random dude in another part of the bar who is one beer ahead of him. Dude no 2 leaps out of his chair, rather athletically might I add, and bounds out towards the tables on the pavement outside, looks left and right as if looking out for traffic on a busy street, and then runs off - exit stage right - into the distance... "What the fuck just happened?" I ask. Shrugs. "Beer?" suggests Ro.

Halfway through a Bucanero cerveza (aaaargh), an elegantly dressed man - slicked back hair and fantastically groomed moustahce - wanders in, cigarette to mouth. "I am Omar the poet". The day spend with Omar was truly one of the most memorable in Cuba, if not this entire trip; lunching and drinking with him, a fascinating insight into Cuba - our day with him revealing so many nuances and details about Cuba and, furthermore, that Omar was a fucking cool dude. He was amazingly moved and grateful for us having sought him out - but in my opinion - we were the much more grateful for having met this fantastic man.

Unfortunately, our experience in Remedios made everything else - including the much-lauded and significant revolutionary city of Santa Clara - pale in comparison. Even more unfortunate for Santa Clara was the overwhleming popularity of right, bright matching lycra fashion and commando gear. Note to residents of Santa Clara:  camouflage gear only works in the jungle. Wearing it anywhere else only makes you look like a dickhead. Nevertheless, the local residents would parade around Parque Vidal - the quivalent of a Freo Bog Lap - glowing orange or yellow lycra more often than not the attire of choice. And there we say, beneath the centralpavillon, armed with buckets of icecream and popcorm, trying to examine the bullet holes in the Hotek Santa Clara from afar between the camouflage clad couple that obstructed our view. Our assessment of the bullet holes from that position? "Probably Guevara." Our assessment of the fasion from that position? Definitely horrific...

Santa Clara is Che Guevara town. It's all about Guevara. Wanna see a big fucking statue of Che? Go to Santa Clara. Wanna see the tractor that Che used to ambush a train? Santa Clara it up. Wanna get some tacky Che keyrings and T-Shirts? (Yes!) Santa-fucking-clara. Frankly, I think the whole Che Guevara thing is a bit of wank, personally. But if you're up for Guevara, go to santa Clara. Do it...

So, to the Top 5. Rum. RumMasterRum. It's a rum domination here in Cuba. And everything comes with run; everyone drinks run. In fact, the other day I saw a 6 year old repremand his dog for drinking his 7 year aged Havana Club Rum. I've managed to stay away from it, but from what Hannah, Mel and Ro have told me, here are the top 5 run based cocktails they've had in Cuba:

5. Cuba Libre - classic. Coke and Rum...

4. Caiparum - Just like a caiparinha but with run. masses of it. And sugar syrup. And orchards of lime...

3. Sliced fruit - watermelon, orange, pineapple, papaya etc. And a fuckload of rum...

2. La Churachuchan - honey, run, soda and lemon. Refreshing. And it's got rum in it...

1. Mojito - mint, soda, sugar, rum. The drink that defines Cuba. At least I think... So damn good. Una mas por favor...

A trinidad...
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