Cuba People to People, Day 3

My third day in Cuba started out with a visit to the Corona Cigar Factory. Here my tour mates and I witnessed how the famous Cuban cigars are made. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside the factory, but we were allowed to take photos of the stained glass in the lobby.

Cigar Factory

Corona Cigar Factory Lobby

After the Cigar Factory, we went to the chevere Club Almendares for salsa lessons. When counting is involved in dancing, I am at loss. I am more of the free form dancer.  Despite my two left feet, I had fun.

Our next stop was at Rosario Cardenas Danza Combinatoria where we watched several modern dance demonstrations, one of which was an excerpt from “Tributo a El Monte.”

After the performance, we had a chance to talk with the dancers about their life in Cuba.

From La Danza, we made our way to Bodegas las Brisas for lunch where we were given a welcome drink. This meal included about eight dishes, but my favorite two were the grilled lobster and the mashed potatoes.  They were yummy.

After fortifying ourselves with delicious food, we were treated to a surprise visit to our tour guide, Yojandra, mother’s house where we were treated to a cubra libre and coffee. We partook of our drinks in the backyard where there was a beautiful garden.

After this, we made our way back to Havana for a little free time.

I spent my free time with one of my tour mates, Carol. We revisited the Old Town in Havana and decided to have dinner at Hotel Ambos Mundos rooftop bar and restaurant.

For dessert, we hopped into a classic car taxi to Coppelia for ice cream (helado). During my research of Cuba, I read many reviews about this helado being amazing. Of course, I was extremely happy that the opportunity presented itself to go visit this famed spot.

When arrived, we were routed to this hole-in-the-wall area within Coppelia reserved for non-Cubans. I was aware that this would be the case, but it was still disappointing. I should have followed former visitors advice to gain entrance to the main ice cream parlor, which appeared to be a really hip and happening place. FYI, the ice cream was okay, but nothing to really write home about. I suspect this may have been because the real great ice cream was reserved for the Cubans and the rejects were served where we were routed. You live an you learn.

After our ice cream, Carol (pictured below) and I hopped into another classic car taxi for a ride back to hotel. I honestly believe that the seats in this car were two loveseat sized sofas crammed in and held in place by metal bars. There were no shocks; we felt every bump.

Despite this, I really loved this ride. It was one of the funnest things to experience as you can tell from the slightly goofy grin on my face.

To end the day, Carol and I were determined to see a Cuban sunset at the rocky beach right across from our hotel. We were told to stay away from the beach at night, as it is a place where sacrifices are made in the name of the Santeria religion.

We threw caution to the wind, and was rewarded with a glorious sunset. What a glorious way to end a stellar day.

To view more photos from my second day in Cuba, click here.

 

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