Feliz Navidad en Cuba pop” breakfast shop had nothing to serve. Nada! Cubans are allowed to set up their own business with permission. Currently there are 500,000 small business licenses. I know I can be an obnoxious American, but I will say, some of the wait staff could take some lessons in customer service. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Cuba, in no small measure because I have only been in the western part. The island is 3.4 times bigger than Maryland and is home to over 11 million people. Some of the things that I think are worth seeing in Havana include the entire Viejo (old) area, the 1748 cathedral if open, La Floridita restaurant and bar, Hotel Ambos Mundos, and the anti-aircraft bunkers on the lawn of the National Hotel in the waterfront area. We enjoyed La Familia restaurant, where President Obama ate last year. He was the first sitting U.S. President to visit Cuba in 88 years. It is an easy seven-mile taxi ride east to Finca Vigia, which was Hemmingway’s home. While there, you will also see his boat named PILAR (nickname for his wife, Pauline). It is a 38’ Wheeler, built on Coney Island. He bought PILAR in 1934 for $7,500, and she is memorialized in The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream.
Cuba is a putative Catholic country, and Elizabeth and I were there over Christmas, but it seems as though organized religion is a very small part of life. The Cathe-
dral was locked tight on Christmas Eve afternoon, without any sign or indication whether there would be services that night. We had planned to look for an open church for midnight service, but had to be on the bus at 6 a.m. to get to the beach for Christmas. We headed out to the resort town of Veradero, where there are numerous fairly new hotels built along a very long spit with a pretty beach and marina. It was 82° on Christmas Day. I recom-
Tidewater Times March 2017