Cuba Days 6-9
Tourist stuff with Family and Friends
The last few days on the Island have been mostly spent onn going around and seeing what each family household needs. In other words, a window that needs repairing oor replaced, a rooof that needs fixing, a household that is shoort on food, one that needs plaster or paint and then have been going around and trying to find these items in a country where these things do not exist or are hard nearly impossible toi find. However this year we found that everything we waanted to buy was readilly available and purchased everything we needed in about the two days we had allotted to the search. We purchased wardrobes for some family members, windows for others, as well as friends, connected flat screens that no one seems to know how to opperate, and helped spruce up homes with small items such as plates, glasses, stemware, paint, and a few other basic items such as toilet paper. Everyone here seems to need something yet their spirit and determination is completely alive and kicking. The tourist dollar only stores (correction new chavo - the term used for the converted american dollar) are rich in merchandise but at prices way out of reachj of most the Island. A shovel for example costs 20.00 and most cubans make 10.00 a month.
I also had my first experience in a Cubann Gym these last few days.. To say it was an experience is an understatement. No real equipment to speak about, or for that matter much of anything.. It was two bars, one bench, and outdated and broken stairmasters, which of course did not work.. There were two bars to be shared by everyone and thehy were full of rust and the smoothie bar was commpletely emty but yet there was still someoone working there, the massage area and steam, sauna, and bathrooms were long ago shut and the entrance fee 5.00 USD, which they think is a bargain.. I hear that most good gyms are in Havanna and I agree that Havana is perhaps the closest one gets to feeling like they are back in the states. Although sometimes when I am in the hotel in the room, with the AC full blast and the TV tuned too ESPN, I feel the same but as you open the door and feel the heat and run into the brooken elevator that forces you to walk down 9 flights of stairs annd be completely drenched I realize where I am Cuba. All of this and I would not trade this vacation for a week at the best greek villa on the islands of Mykonos.
People here are waram, friendly, and everyone survives, they know how to party, act, yet survive. The Cuban Spirit is strong determined, and willed to move ahead and make through these times so that they can live a better tomorrow. One thing is for sure the construction here is absolutely sturdy and if this place were to ever see a Lowes or Home Depot or something similar, the reaction would be a better island, one full of tourists, and one completely renovated and invigorated...
We went to a place called LA Granjita, which was Fidel Castro´s old Villa oor House here in Santa Clara to eat yesterday with our family and friends and at $12.00 all you can eat buffet style dinnner, it was a bargain to have the pleasure of seeing my family and friends enjoy such a wonderful meal and savor every moment, including thhe all you can eat Ice Cream Bar, which seems unimportant to us yet is a super luxury on the Island, and some with us had never seen one.. Its amazing just 90 miles from here is the southern coast of Florida and the city of Miami, with everything available and yet here its a differennt world where everything is a chore too find or get a hold of.
One thing I will never get use to is the lack of paper towels or napkins.. There art none anywhere, you get one for lunch, dinner, and none in the bathrooms, even in the hotels.. So trust me on this when going to the bathroom and going to do number two, do it in your room for a surprize will definitely hit you, if you do it in the public areas.. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE...
Today we are going to say goodbye to most of the people we love and care about in a big celebration outside the city at my grandparents old home, one we completely renovated by sending money from the states. One of three homes we have completely rebuilt here on the Island even added AC, noty too mention the coutless windows, paintings, concrete for other homes of our friends and family we have helped with. For you see with western monney and funds everything is available, for that RIGHT price... then is back to Santa Clara to spend the nighht and tomorrow at 2:00 PM we leave for Havana to make sure we check in by 6:00 for our 10:00 PM flight and back in Miami before 11:00. When we land we will have traveled not only 90 miles but in a time machine forward in time to 2011..
And although I will happy to be back, I will not be able too stop tyhinking about my family and close friends still here on the Island fighting everyday to survive..
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About Alexander Calzadilla
Alexander Calzadilla is a Cuban male originally from Philadelphia, who has happily called Miami his home since moving here at the age of 15. He attended Southwest Sr. High School and Florida International University, ultimately receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. While in college, he began working as a paralegal for the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Reichenbacher, a position he kept for seven years after graduation. He subsequently worked at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Associates before landing at Costa Nursery. After distinguishing himself with many accomplishments, he was promoted to the position of Director of Specialty Products, which included the orchid, bonsai and lucky bamboo departments. When Alex was first put in charge of the three departments, they ranked near the bottom. By the time he left Costa after seven years, Alex had transformed the floundering departments into unqualified successes, posting record earnings, sales and profitability. In 2008 Alex was named the Costa Employee of the Year. Alex now puts his formidable prowess as a businessman into his newest venture, Avant-Garde Home Furnishings, LLC, serving as Managing Partner.
We offer home furnishings and decor for every area of your home,both inside and out, always striving to bring you the most current design elements being used by today's top designers, at a fraction of their retail cost. Whether you are completely redecorating an area of your home, looking for the perfect accent piece to finish off an existing room, shopping for a unique gift, or simply "window shopping" to get design ideas, Avant-Garde is the place to go for everything modern & contemporary for your home.