Monday, 11 September 2017

Fight Club Friday






My last day in Havana I dragged myself out of bed and decided to do ONE fitness related thing.

I took a class at the world famous Rafael Tejo Boxing Gym aka "Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Tejo"

I know, I know.
If you do not have a general idea of the sort of person I am, I am the one person who believes vacations are for full enjoyment and indulgence.

Anything that might possibly be stressful issa big fat NO.

So you have to realize that taking this class was really for the culture, as opposed to the love for the sport.

I mean I love boxing  *waves at Anthony Joshua*  and I've practiced on and off for the past 6 months but in Havana this class was purely for the culture.

And it was perfect.

Walked from my casa to the Gimnasio and encountered an Santeria Church.



Santeria religion is like juju and the catholic church having a baby and that your extra aunt in your family is the one raising the child.

Imagine the extraness.

Yes.

I did not bother to explore it greatly because - I'm Nigerian.

Service was about to start and everyone was wearing while and had yellow flowers.

I just smiled and continued on my merry way.

Finally got to the gym 5 minutes later and

Mini photo shoot while waiting for the coach.

Boxing Ring


Now the boxing ring might not look like much but trust me it has so much more soul and character than a Nigerian Politician ever will.

All the Cuban greats trained and train here so you know it is ( like everything else in Cuba) very very community oriented/centered.
I mean my trainers mum showed up and suggested I move to Cuba and get a boyfriend.

 Eventually he showed up, chatted for a bit and got down to business.

Did the cardio drills, ran around in circles, did the lateral runs anti lateral runs- The whole works.

My stance is actually so much better, I was hung over from Tropicana

Also Leg definition- hellloooooo :)

Josbel - Coach
 Half way through the training in Spanish ( which I do not speak),
coach stopped me to ask " Cocaina"?
Me: huh?
He gesticulates the sniffing and back of palm rubbing gesture.
Me: Oh cocaine? No thanks
Him: Did you take cocaine?
Me: *realizing that I must have been giggling like a goat the whole time* Oh no, no cocaina for me.
He looks at me with disbelief but lets it slide

Coach's momma, trying to get me to stay in cuba.
 Also tourists kept popping in and asking to take photos, so if anyone of you see's your girl on anyone else's travel blog- Hola!


My face when my coach asked me out to drinks later that night. 


And when we tried to take a photo together, he lifts all 72kg of me- In one attempt.

I loved loved loved loved boxing in Cuba. It was so much more light hearted than the seriousness of what I have to do in Lagos (whenever I go)

The class cost CUC20.
The walk to the arena was 20 minutes
The walk back, LOL I did not walk back,
 I hopped on a bicitaxi and screamed "Mas Rapido*"

*turns out mas rapido is faster in spanish but it's not the faster you say when you want someone to hurry up, 
it's the faster you say when you are having sex. 
the driver was kind enough to explain this to me in broken spanglish and I'm like oh, my bad.

If anyone is interested I was in a hurry because the place I had breakfast was going to close in 20 minutes and I really liked eating there.

Breakfast spot and favorite waiter.


Ps: Please take a minute to pray for the people of Havana
as hurricane Irma ravages their coast line and floods their streets.
As of today, there are no reports of deaths.
 Join me in prayer that it stays that way.






Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tropicanaa!




Tropicana is a world famous cabaret show hosted at "The Tropicana" in Havana and it was on my to do list.

But as with every thing in Cuba, Tropicana is not cheap.

Seat prices range from CUC75 to CUC120 dependent on seat location and whether or not dinner was going to be included.

I opted for the most affordable tickets at CUC75 because, I had researched before I left Lagos and I knew that seat location was not going to impact the experience greatly or at all.


Plus it came with a bottle of Havana club and a flower if you are female or a cigar if you are male.

I attempted to finesse my way out of a flower into a cigar but hosts were not having it and so

Me with my flower and my bottle of Rum.


It is also important to note that Tropicana has a pretty strict dress code.

Fancy dress.

But as a Nigerian whose theme is always to do the most, I was ready.

No really, I had gotten one of my trusted Dress makers something to let them know Naija no dey carry last.
Told you I came ready.


Shout out to the person who took this photo, you are a star girl.

Anyway the show started late as is expected in Cuba, but it blew my mind.

The costumes, the choreography, the ambience plus the fact that it was a hot spot region for internet in Cuba and the internet was stellar.

Side Stage

Dancer in her stunning out fit

Since it's held in an open air theater, the show was stopped when it started drizzling and we had to wait out the rain in the hotel lobby ( more time to catch up on the gram), and we got called back once the rain ended and the show was concluded.

After which the dancers came into the crowd to pull up people to dance on stage.

Selection Process

Lucky guy

And they called out countries and had the citizen dance and play songs from their countries and it was such a vibe.

A few things to note about Tropicana,

you might be the only black person there - I was, and I still enjoyed myself and I went alone.

They charge you CUC5 for taking photos.

I didn't pay because- huh?, and I still took photos.

But, just play it cool and be like  "I'm only here for the experience",
because half way through the show no one is going to come around and ask you to
1) not take photos
2)delete the photos you already took so

Its a far way out of town,
your  best bet is to get a cab that would drop you off and come back for you.
That's what I did and it worked out perfectly and cost me CUC20 "ir e venir".




Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Cuban Playlist

I do not speak Spanish so going to a country where Spanish is the lingua franca, is an interesting choice.

Something I did was download all the Spanish songs I could find, that interested me at least if I couldn't speak the language I would be able to dance at the clubs.

Fail.

Anyway, I went to Cuba and fell in love with a bunch of  Spanish songs and now everyone hates riding with me because Spanish music is all I listen to, I don't care, if they don't like it, they can walk.


via GIPHY


 Any way here are the top 5 songs on constant repeat.

5. Wisin- Vacaciones

I came across this song in my classic car ride on the day trip to Vinales.

Like the cab driver had pimped his car so much that he had a DVD screen and all that.

And I actually watched the video and fell in love.

Hard.



4.  Widley- Tiengo Money

This one I stumbled and spluttered my drink out when I actually heard it. I was at Disco Ayala and the chorus came one.

Almost died. 0:52 till end, it gets pretty reminiscent of the barbie girl by Aqua song

Because it's the exact same melody.

Non withstanding this is on heavy rotation in my life so



3. Gente de Zona- La Gozadera

This one I heard on the night I went to cafe cantante, and let me tell you, It's not a new song but the whole club went willllld, when it came on.
Kinda like how everyone at Velvett gets super hype when a classic like Gongo Aso comes on.






2. Enrique X Friends- Subeme la Radio

This one I heard in the classic car, and fell in love instantly.
And the video was actually shot in Cuba.
So here I was, in a classic car, driving through old havana
where they shot the music video, watching the damn video
Vacation inception.

Also Enrique is sooooooooooooo hot. Like my lord. He does this flip thing at 3:18 in the video.
I'm like- Si Papi.



DRUM ROLL PLEASE.

1. Luis Fonsi X Daddy Yankee - Despacito 
The Original.

I had heard this in Lagos, but because I am crazy sometimes, I did not understand the full power this jam was packing.

EVERYWHERE I WENT
- Cab to the natural park
-Cab in Miami
-Club in Cuba
- Club in Miami
- Breakfast in Cuba
-Random radio on the street in Havana

Despacito was and is everywhere.
Keep a bit of your naïvety and do not google English translation of this song.
Also just so you know how huge this song is: it has 2.8bn views on Youtube.
There are 7 billion people in the world.
Go figure.



What is your favorite Spanish song?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Vinales X Fusterlandia.

Day three in Havana and I knew I had to sort out the trip to Vinales.
Signage from my rolled up window.

But I was nervous because
1- I do not smoke. Never ever ever (not even a single drag) tried anything smoking related.
2- I knew I had to go with a classic car but what suspension do those things have?

Sha sha, I had paid for a ticket to Cuba and there was no way I wasn't going.

After breakfast I walked to the street and haggled a classic car taxi for the trip to and fro.

It cost 80 CUC.

Side profile of the car
 Surprisingly the suspension was really good and or the roads were smooth,
 either way it was a good drive.


Notice the very recent usb stick. Renovation toh quality.
 Also the car had automatic transmission.
 I was like ahn ahn, I'm sure your mechanics here sabi all the work.

Accelerator and Brake.
 Unfortunately no A/C. but it was a rainy day so quite breezy.
Side profile of the driver/tour guide who was so sweet/efficient


 We finally get to Vinales and head straight to the tobacco farms.

Tobacco seeds.

Come closer.

the leaves being dried- and they look a lot like bats


Views of the farm

Dried leaves showing the different points and flavors.
After this tour we walked to a gazebo where we then saw the cigars rolled - not on the thighs of virgins unfortunately ( or fortunately) and we were offered sticks dipped in honey for tasting.

I think I have might have exaggerated when I said I have never smoked. I smoke shisha/hookah sparingly ( but I am looking to buy a bong, if anyone is interested ).

Turns out Cuban cigars are smoked without inhaling the smoke like you would do cigarettes.

So not too bad.


They see me rollin'

De-veining ( and hating)

Che looking on as I managed not to choke on my cigar.

Me being badass while my driver looks on approvingly.


After this, I asked the driver, what else is there to do here, in Vinales?

He said I'll take you to la cueva. aka the cave.


It's a garden with a sugar cane juice extractor and animals running around.
It also has a restaurant-that charges you to use the bathroom 🙄
and some animals running around.

There is a waiting period depending on how full the cave is and the trip costs 5CUC.

Yes, yes I know Cuba is really a tourist trap.
Scenes around the cave

Cueva del Indio

The only animals I saw

More scenes.
Sugar cane juice extractor- Why don't we have this in Lagos?

Cave entry

Trying to get into the boat.
Basically, there is a stream inside the cave and you sail through the cave. enter on one side and come out reborn via the other side, pretty basic stuff.

Except the cave is pitch black and the guide said something about no flash lights?

Exactly.

If you are claustrophobic please sit this one out.

Finished the cruise without incident, except those three seconds when the boat engine stopped.


So what else is in Vinales?

He said we can go to this hotel and there is an amazing view and I'm like LET US DO THIS.

But then my camera battery died. *sigh*

Anyway iPhone to the rescue.

Pretty dope hotel in Vinales, the most luxurious thing I saw there

This View tho. I have an amazing Panorama I plan to frame.

This I actually really like. It's a compass showing the distance from the spot to various cities.

Zoomed in.

Slightly tired, I suggested to the driver that I really want to see Fusterlandia.


All you need to know about Fusterlandia is in this article Here ( Go on click on it you know you want to).

When I got there it was closed * sad face*


But you know I'm always down for a photoshoot, the murals on the walls around are the most beautiful thing.


Agabya Status.
As an aside the art in cuba is really really really something.






Spent about 20 minutes walking around and just being in awe, like your neighbors let you put mosaic on their fences, walls, gates?

In Dolphin the person you share your twin non detached duplex with won't even let you paint the front of their house FOR FREE.



The driver so sweetly pointed out all the popping of areas as we drove back to central havana.



Oh and later in the evening I went dancing and made some "newer friends".

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Havana II, Cuba












Day two found me roaming the streets of Havana looking for breakfast and ended up doing an impromptu photo shoot at the terrace of the standard hotel and eventually found at a cafe around the corner from my Casa that offered a really decent spread for 5 CUC daily.

Also ended up having breakfast there daily.



Terrace from the hotel.

Light house

Views

Look at that stunning view.


Ps: The food in Cuba is colorful but pretty bland, tabasco sauce was my best friend, I literally took it everywhere and it helped a little.

 I had planned to visit Vinales and watch Cuban cigars being rolled on the thighs of virgins but it was impossible to get  a taxi to take me so I settled for the beach instead.

I had initially planned to go to Baracoa beach but settled for Santa Maria Del Mar and it was perfect.
The beautiful Playa Santa Maria Del Mar

Issa snack. Cuban men are delicious. 💖

Views

Forward to the Islands, I'll get you gold no spray tans

Obligatory swimsuit photo.



Made new friends, shared Cuban rum on the beach and swam in the ocean.


Later in the evening, I took a walking tour of Old Havana and it was so lovely.


Tour  guide

Gorgeous!
Three hours of facts on facts on facts.

Everywhere we looked, cars

Cars

AND  more cars

Was so tired after that walk. I went back to my casa and passed out literally.


The women in Cuba were dressed with so much sex appeal. I love it.




Told you I made friends. 😎

Obligatory fancy door photo


Artist studio


Other tourists on the walking tour

The barcadi house**

**The barcadi family were said to flee Cuba before the revolution and started making rum in Puerto rico.

Cubans scoff at Barcadi because it says Cuban rum on the bottle but if its not made in Cuba- how can it be Cuban rum?

I respect the sentiment.

The locals swear by Havana club and Santiago de cuba.

Me, I just drank everything I was given.