Havana Aquarium, Miramar

HavanaAquariumMiramar1A Cuban family outing!

Its the weekend in Havana. The city is full of tourists sitting sipping Cuba Libre and Mojitas in old Havana’s street side restaurants and cafes.
The air is hot and the breeze from the sea is only slightly cooling!
Young men and children plunge into the sea as it laps against the walls of the Malecon, down by the harbour these brave young men are delighting in the freshness and excitement that being in the sea brings. The only way to learn to swim is to take the plunge in the open sea!!

HavanaAquariumMiramar7

Cuban families living in Havana don’t have many options for days out!
Going anywhere costs money and there is no sandy beach in Havana city for a cheap beach party.

Havana does have an Aquarium in Miramar and that can certainly entertain the family group!
The entrance is cheap and there are buses that stop outside the gates!

HavanaAquariumMiramar2

Sadly not much information about the animals housed inside is displayed! It’s a case of looking, watching, asking friends if they know what names of the creatures are in the tanks, or even drawing some and finding out at school next week!

HavanaAquariumMiramar3

Highlights are the shows! Dolphins and Sea Lions jump through hoops and balance balls on their noses while the crowds cheer and laugh in the blazing sun.

HavanaAquariumMiramar4

HavanaAquariumMiramar6HavanaAquariumMiramar9HavanaAquariumMiramar5

Turtles seems to thrive in the murky waters of the central pond but their lives are not unmolested! Poked and prodded they endure manhandling from the children who know no better and from adults who should know better! Guards sleep in the shadows….

Wild Pelikans drop by for a snooze in the shade, but they are freeagents!!

HavanaAquariumMiramar10

If you are a tourist you can take the Hop On Hop off bus tour and spend some time at the Aquarium or take a taxi!

Tourist price is in CUC convertible pesos locals in MN moneda nacional.

Have you tried our virtual bus tour?  Click on this link to Hop on the bus!
http://encompasstours.com/2013/04/virtual-havana-bus-tour/

Why not join us on tour and see Cuba for yourself

A Cuban Snapshot 7 day holiday
http://encompasstours.com/tours/cuba/a-cuban-snapshot-7-days/

Mi Cubita 14 day holiday
http://encompasstours.com/tours/cuba/mi-cubita-cuba14-days/

In search of Cuba’s National Symbols!

What do symbols tell us about ourselves and our aspirations?

Columbus is not the only person who has exclaimed that Cuba is the most beautiful land ever created.

Cubans and thousands of tourists share this opinion. The island is fertile for agriculture with a beautiful climate and plenty of rain, providing an ample diversity of vegetation. Its geographic location is an ideal stop off point for migrating birds and there are some endemic species too! Cubans are rightly proud of their island and the national symbols that they have inherited!

In every village and community you will see these representations lovingly painted on the walls; a tall palm tree, a delicate white flower, and small bird with an unusual long tail!

Cuba has many types of palm trees, and this one is not an indigenous species, but it is sure to be the first palm tree that you see when you arrive in Cuba.  The “Palma Real” (Roystonea regia) or Royal Palm, originates in Florida and Mexico. It can reach an amazing 40 or 50 feet in height and stands majestic with a characteristic crowning crest of leaf fronds.  It grows everywhere on the island and despite its great height and slim trunk, can withstand hurricane force conditions. The Royal Palm embodies and represents the endurance of the people.

The choice of another non native species for national flower reflects the non indigenous nature of the islands population. The “Mariposa” (Hedychium coronarium) or White Butterfly Jasmine originates in Asia, Indonesia and India and is part of the ginger family and is found commonly flowering in the rainy season as it like damp conditions. The flower is a beautiful and delicate white with large petals and the flowers emerge from an encased and layered flower head. The scent is a deliciously fragrant, delicate jasmine aroma. During the wars of Independence the Cuban ladies wore this flower in their hair and it’s said they hid messages passed between rebels in the flower stalks! Today it’s a popular flower for religious offerings and personal decoration. This exquisite flower represents the purity, independence and rebellion of the people.

Cubans are fond of putting small birds in small cages but the national bird will never withstand this form of captivity!  It’s a shy bird that values its freedom and if caged will fly repeatedly at the bars until it batters itself to death!!

It’s not an abundant species but it’s indigenous and endemic to Cuba. It’s likely that most Cubans have never seen this bird in its natural setting and so we hired a guide to help us find it. The lovely elusive “Tocororo” (Priotelus temnurus) or Cuban Trogon can only be found in particular locations and it’s well worth seeing. The plumage is of white, red and blue, the colours of the Cuban flag and its name reflects is song “tocororo tocororo”. This beautiful bird is a representation of an idea of freedom and patriotism that all Cubans aspire to.

If you’d like to see these lovely species and more why not book a tour to Cuba?

“A Cuban Snapshot” 7 days
http://encompasstours.com/tours/a-cuban-snapshot-7-days/

“Mi Cubita” 14 days.
http://encompasstours.com/tours/mi-cubita-cuba14-days/

A local view!

Countryside walk in Vinales, Cuba

Sandra meets us in front of the church. She is wearing an old straw hat, a long sleeved checkered shirt, jeans and Wellington boots, ready to take us into the “campo” for a two hour countryside walk in her home ground. She is also wearing a big smile which is her typical expression! “Have you got repellent, sunscreen, sun hats, water, cameras?” she asks!
“Yes!” and off we go, following our cheerful guide who begins to tell us all about the people and agriculture of the area, what the crops are that grow here, how to identify them, and very importantly, how to eat or use them. We are delighted!


Vinales has the best Tobacco growing land in the whole island, and we are to visit a family who have cultivated Tobacco here for generations. We go inside the traditional, thatched, wooden, tobacco drying barn, and learn some of the secrets of the curing process. The farmer invites us into his house to watch him make one of his own Cigars, of which he smokes five a day! The state allows the farmers to keep sufficient Tobacco for their own use, but the rest is taken to the factories where the popular brands smoked by the rich and famous worldwide are created; Romeo y Julieta, Punch, Monticristo, Bolivar, Partagas, La Flor de Cano, El Rey del Mundo, Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterrey and many more. For Cuba today, Cigars represent hard currency and once labelled and boxed, transform into a “smoke” far out of reach of any Cubans budget!

Having all sampled the “home grown”, we feel in need of some fresh air and our walk continues along the country tracks. We chat with Sandra about her life, family, religion, education, health, happiness, aspirations all the usual topics of conversation the world over. She is more than happy to answer all our questions and give her opinions. 

The sun beats down and we drip with sweat!  We are called into another small house and offered a selection of fruit and home grown coffee.  We consume hungrily in the shade and relax under the trees. The only sounds, apart from our own voices, are those of the birds and the bees. The pace of life is slow. The temperature is rising. Reluctantly we head off, back into town, leaving a small tip for our host who is very pleased!  “Gracias y adios” and Sandra leads us back into the centre of this enchanting, colonial, country town.

Back where we started we are hot thirsty and happy!  We have glimpsed into the simple homes of two typical families and tasted some new and interesting flavours. We have been made to feel very welcome too!

To find out how to enjoy this excursion yourself visit our Tours page and book your place on either “Cuban Snapshot” or “Mi Cubita”.