Greet the Cuba Travel Challenge
Again this summer, courageous Americans are defying the travel ban to Cuba, which has been in effect for more than forty years. These TRAVEL BAN CHALLENGERS are united by their desire to see Cuba for themselves and are willing to risk huge fines and harassment at the border to stand up for their right to travel. This travel challenge is organized to defend our Constitutional rights of free association, free travel, and free speech. The main organizers of the travel challenge are the Venceremos Brigade, Pastors for Peace, the US/Cuba Labor Exchange, (NNOC), and the Women's Travel Challenge to Cuba. The Venceremos Brigade, the US/Cuba Labor Exchange, (NNOC), and the Women's Travel Challenge to Cuba will return from Cuba by crossing the border at the PEACE BRIDGE into BUFFALO NY
The annual communist meeting, attendance is mandatory
Points of Interest...
Cuba is pretty relaxed, even in the larger towns.
And in Cuba, the louder it gets is behind one of the huge finned American cars chugging the streets. Is the Caribbean's largest and least commercialised island and one of the world's last bastions of communism. Its relative political isolation has prevented it from being overrun by tourists, and locals are sincerely friendly to those who do venture in.
El Nicho Falls... Take a trip to beautiful water falls in Sierra de Trinidad mountains, get surrounded by the pure nature. Located on the way from Cienfeuegos to Trinidad, El Nicho an exuberant compound of waterfalls and pounds and fabulous topography At mountains of the El Nicho you can hike through the caves, water fall bathing and track the mountain's exotic flora and fauna. Those interested in another kind of wildlife can go bird-watching. El Nicho is located in Grupo Guamuhaya part of Sierra de Trinidad mountainous is the second highest point in Cuba Pico San Juan 1108 m about 46 km from Cienfuegos.
Scuba diving in Cuba is unforgettable event, for beginners and experience divers.
has excellent scuba-diving sites throughout the archipelago. They are some of the most entrancing in all the Caribbean.
Warm, clean water, great biodiversity, good conservation of it's ecosystems, coral gardens, caves, meadows of gorgonians and sponges, underwater escarpments, narrow channels, tunnels, fish of many sizes and colors, valuable remains of shipwrecked vessels and many natural beaches, cays and islets make it a place to challenge divers imagination.
In addition, this large area has a great variety of coralline formations in amazing shapes and colors, where many species of marine flora and fauna coexist in a delicate biological balance. This is what makes Cuba such a wonderful scuba-diving destination the one that thousands of tourists and professionals prefer.
Havana is one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the western hemisphere; the Spanish established the city in 1519. Its history spans three principal periods, each of which is clearly reflected in the urban landscape: the Spanish colonial (1519 to 1898), the American neocolonial (1898 to 1959), and the revolutionary (1960 to present). The colonial period, lasting nearly 400 years, gave Havana much of the Spanish colonial architecture that distinguishes it and led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to designate the colonial core of the city, Old Havana, as a World Heritage Site in 1982.
Cueva de Vinales is an easy walk and takes approx. 15 - 20 min to get through. There is enough light to see where you are headed, but it is still dark inside.
These caves were very large, long, deep, dark and scary. I can't explain the feeling when you are 1km deep in the middle of a mountain, it is kind of erie. If we used up the first light and the second light dies we would have likely died with it since it would be impossible to find your way out of the caves and these particular caves were not well travelled by others ...
The Greek professor is getting to be a pain in the ass. He says he's in Havana lecturing on the predominance of the female figure in excavated Minoan art. The archaeological record, he says, suggests that Minoan society was a matriarchy, an idea that appeals to his feminist Cuban colleagues. He smiles through his beard and looks around the hotel coffee shop. We don't trust him. The night we arrived, he checked into the room next door, and he's been monitoring our every move. Now he doesn't want to talk about art, he wants to talk about our plans. Sea kayaking? How interesting. Where, exactly? The north coast. Show me the map. I don't want to show him the map. I want him to bug off. I want him to quit calling our room day and night, an uncanny five minutes after we return to it. It's starting to feel like a setup.
"So, my adventurous American friends," the professor says, "what have you discovered?"
I want to say: That a '55 Chevy Bel Air can run beautifully with a Russian Lada motor and a Toyota transmission. That the women of Cuba, unbombarded by media images of skinny blondes, don't hate their bodies. (The reigning fashion among females of all ages and shapes is a Lycra catsuit, preferably with vertical stripes.) That a box of Montecristo No. 4s costs $25 on the street.
Instead I say, "We've discovered that we're nuts."
My old friend and paddling partner Adam Duerk and I have come here to do what we believe no one else has done: kayak a long stretch of the Cuban coast. We also want to see what Communism in the Americas looks like at the beginning of the third millennium. For the kayaking, we've chosen an archipelago of pristine mangrove-and-sand cays along the north shore. It's a coastline Hemingway wrote about in Islands in the Stream . We've brought two exquisitely built collapsible Klepper kayaks and 20 boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The dinners are backup; we've heard that in the ultraclear water on the Gulf Stream side of the island you can free-dive and pick out lobsters like deli sandwiches.
What we don't have yet is permission. After months of faxing various agencies of the Cuban government and receiving no reply, and talking on the phone with officials who were enthusiastic, voluble, and completely unable to give an answer, I called the Cuban embassy in Toronto. The woman at the tourism desk was succinct. "If you row past the boundary of the resort you will be detained."
"I'm not going to any resort," I said.
"If you don't go to a resort you will be detained."
"You mean I have to go to a resort or I will be detained?"
"You misunderstand. If you take your boats outside a resort—"
"Don't say it!" I pleaded. I thanked her and hung up.
We bought plane tickets. I figured nothing takes the place of face-to-face personal charm, especially when the face belongs to George Washington or Andrew Jackson. There are some 3,100 nautical miles of Cuban coastline. There are hundreds of fishing villages, scores of port towns, thousands of reasonable officials. If all else failed, we'd sneak. Both Adam and I had years of experience slipping our kayaks onto tightly regulated rivers in the American Southwest. How tough could Cuba be?