Totem poles and Night Life in the City 

The little borough of Sitka was first inhabited by the Tlingit tribe, who were said to have lived here over 10,000 years ago. In 1905, the Governor was tasked with decorating the Sitka park for a national exhibition which is how Sitka came to have a national park displaying a large collection of totem poles. These were gifts from the Pacific Northwest tribes, who donated these to share their culture with the people of Alaska. How I do love these!


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Eagles, Otters, Bears and Whales in Sitka

In this little town of Sitka with a population of 8,000, we took a boat to explore the wildlife in the sea.  Luckily, our boat only had 20 people, so we could run back and forth to both sides to not miss any of the action.  Aboard for a three hour tour across the water, we are off to see what critters live in the Alaskan wilderness.  We were in for quite a day because there’s a lot to see here!DSC04146

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Glaciers in Alaska

A trip to Alaska, our 50th and most sparsely populated state, is not one of looking at history and differing cultures, or unique architecture, but one of wide open spaces and the seeing the beauty of nature.  Juneau, the capital of the state, is only accessible by the sea, with the city nestled at the base of a mountain.

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Riding in Cars with Boys

If you want to step back into the automobile past, you need to go to Cuba. Havana is literally a rolling car museum with Oldsmobiles, Chevys, Fords, and Buicks that most car buffs in the US would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to own, and they are used by Cubans as every day vehicles. It’s amazing to see a lineup of the vintage cars, waiting at an interection for the light to change, like it’s no big deal.

 

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Waiting for the light…

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Old Man & the Sea in Cuba

Ernest Hemingway certainly has a huge fan base in Cuba, having lived there for much of his life.  After he was a war correspondent for the Spanish civil war, he crossed his fishing boat , the Pilar, into the waters and made his home for the next seven years in Havana at the Hotel Ambos Mundas.

In 1940, with his new wife Martha, Hemingway bought an estate, about fifteen miles outside of Havana, which they named “Finca Vigia” (Lookout Farm).  He would live here for the next twenty years.  It was during this time that he wrote one of his most famous books, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Five years later, he would divorce and marry his fourth wife Mary, who lived with him here until 1960.

Ernest Hemingway’s Home – Finca Vigia

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La Habana Vieja – Old Havana

Built in the early 1500s by the Spanish, Old Havana is a central section of town consisting of narrow streets built in a baroque Spanish colonial style.  The wrought iron decorative scrolling across all of the windows and doors serve also to protect since the windows are all open with no glass.  I guess it’s too hot here to ever have window panes.

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Mixing the Old with the New – the Vedado

By 1962, then President John F. Kennedy had implemented a full embargo against Cuba including all exports, food, medicine, and prohibiting any US company from doing business or trading with the US.  After almost sixty years, I imagined that Cuba would be a bit frozen in time, like America was thirty years ago. Much to my surprise, Cuba has moved forward, still trading with the rest of the world.  They have Hundais and Kias from trade with Korea, washing machines and refrigerators from Germany, food from Mexico and South America, and televisions from China.  Even though they only have five television stations, over 80 percent of the people buy a tv disc package for $2 which allows them to download hundreds of American tv sitcoms and news shows, so amazingly, many Cubans are quite up to date with news from America.  There are 2.1 million people living in Havana today.

Tour buses in Cuba, made in Ching 

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Vamos a Cuba

It was an early morning rise here in Miami to get to the airport. It’s never any fun to get up at five am on a vacation day. There was a special counter for those who were going to Cuba. Then came lots of paperwork, passports, visas, forms to fill out before we can get on that plane.

The conversation that was buzzing among our circle of friends all expressed the same sentiment… “let’s go to Cuba before things change too much, before the effects of the sixty year US embargo vanish with the new influx of tourism,” which was rapidly spreading to the island.

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My niece and her new hubby on their honeymoon in Cuba

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