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Sidecars in Cuba

 Greetings from the URAL Club of Cuba


The surprise trip I have been hinting at has happened, Havana, Cuba!
Have always wanted to visit Cuba, however for many years it was impossible for US citizens to travel there. 
When recently reading about a Photography Workshop in Cuba with a well known Danish photographer, I jumped at the chance to participate. While not difficult to get your VISA and necessary paperwork in order to go, it must be done correctly. So take your time, carefully read the instructions. 
Once it looked like the trip would actually happen, I made two contacts in Havana who could open doors for me. Get me into places the typical tourist would never see. First was with the president of the URAL Club of Cuba. He and I corresponded over several months, building confidence in each other. Explained why I wanted to meet, photograph and hear their stories about the club and the members.
The second contact was with a Cuban Doctor who also happened to own a 1954 Ford Fairlane that his son drives as guide for tourists. (Note: this old Ford now has a Nissan Diesel motor). The Doctor and I also corresponded over several months detailing where we would like to go, what to see and what could we bring to benefit the Cuban people. More on that later.
Arriving in Havana on a direct flight from Houston, the Doctor Rafael picked us up at the airport, took us to the airBnB we had rented, drop off our suitcases, then gave us a quick orientation tour around the Cuban capital. Note: The US government has a list of hotel and restaurants that are Cuban government owned that Americans are not to patronize. We are there to "benefit the Cuban people", not their government.
I say We, as I invited a fellow Houston photo club member, Alan Wilson to go also. He and his SO Marianna, quickly accepted, but decided real Cuban Salsa Dance classes were more interesting than a photo workshop. That's okay, Cuba is a photographer's paradise as well as a dancer's dream.
So off we go the first afternoon, getting to know our way around the capital city.
Revolution Plaza, 
where Fidel Castro delivered his first speech to the Cuban people after successfully overthrowing the Bautista regime in 1959.


The main walking entrance to Old Havana, across the street from the Capital building.
A typical side street in Havana, buildings in various states of repair and disrepair.


Late afternoon shadows in the old city.
The NEW Cuban Capital Building, 
which they state is larger and taller than the capital building in Washington, D.C...
with two vintage 1950's American sedans parked under the street lamp. 
There are new cars in Havana, but old cars are what everyone wants to see. The Cuban ingenuity in keeping the old iron running when they have no access to OEM parts is amazing.


Time for our first dinner in Havana, across the street from the Capital Building. 
A trio was entertaining a sparse crowd, being a slow Wednesday night. Then we learned most Cubans dine later around 9 or 10, we walked in early, at 6:15 P.M. 


A grilled chicken breast with a side of mofongo (rice and beans).
Day Two - Thursday
Am so excited about being in Cuba, I could not sleep the first night. 
Was up at pre-dawn hours to catch this sight.


Slowly the sun rose, dawning a new day in Havana. 
I'm ready to explore.
Have many tales to relate, details to add and photos to share. Including hearing a world traveled Cuban Opera singer perform Sibony, an old Cuban love song. 
Yes, Siboney, the name we gave to our new puppy last month. 
Pure coincidence.


Sit back, relax, as I share more about modern day Cuba, 
by wandering the streets looking for photo opportunities,
 talking with people I meet, 
going for several rides with the URAL Club,
being invited into people's homes,
attending an intimate performance at the National Theater,
visiting a tobacco farm,
watch a cigar being hand rolled in the family farmhouse,
and more.
Tomorrow we ride with the Ural Club of Cuba.
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DRONEsmitty901CraigReardan Tom
  • This Thursday morning we will meet some of the Ural Club of Cuba members for a morning photo op 
  • then a sidecar tour of the city.
  • Up early, Alan sets up his camera for the day.
  • Our Airbnb is on the 17th floor with great views of the cityscape and the ocean.
  • Looking across the Vedado neighborhood,
  •  toward the US Embassy in Havana.
  • The Catholic Church across from our building was never open while we were there.
  • Asking about it, was told Fidel rounded up the Priests, put them on a ship 
  • and sent them back to Spain back in the 1960's. 
  • Found only one Catholic church open. It was being run by a few Nuns from the convent next door. So different from the experience in Mexico just a month earlier.
  • Osmany, the Ural Club President showed up with a second rig to take us 
  • to meet other club members for the photo op.
  • All of the Ural rigs here are 650cc, kickstart, old Russian military rigs that were given to the Cuban Army, then sold for scrap when the military could not keep them running. The club members cooperate with each other to keep their rigs running. Parts are an issue, so improvised solutions is the norm. When I asked what I could bring from the US for the members, they asked for headlamps and tail light bulbs. Ordered enough Hi-Lo LED bulbs off E-Bay for every club member to get one. And two dozen bulbs for tail lights and turn signals. 
  • Since there was still room in the suitcase, scoured through the shop's tool chests for every duplicate tool, socket or wrench I had.  Hauled them all down to Havana for the club to use.
  • Motorcycle helmets are mandatory in Cuba, 
  • not sure how much protection these local made bucket lids provide though.
  • Kick starting the Russian iron...
  • We saw many sidecar rigs in Cuba, not just Urals. 
  • Most are two stroke 250cc rigs from Soviet satellite countries.
  • We reach the gathering spot where other rigs are patiently 
  • waiting near the malecon (waterfront) and the National Hotel.
  • Smart group, they waited in the shade of the palm trees.
  • We quickly gather in front of the landmark Hotel Nacional for a group photo before we were shooed away.
  • This hotel was a popular pre-revolution night spot with the mafia 
  • as portrayed in the Godfather movies. 
  • From there we paraded around town, finally reaching a spot where we took the "Greeting" photo above,
  • with the old Spanish Morro Castle from 1585 in the background.
  • By noon, most of the members had to get back to work. 
  • They dropped us off at the ornate National Theater building where we could find lunch.
  • Before dropping us off, we were invited to join the club for a pre-planned country outing on Monday. They felt comfortable enough with us to invite us to a club social / ride event. They organized to provide plenty of food while we agreed to bring the cold beer. 
  • With Monday's plans set, we said our "hasta luegos".
  • After lunch, Alan, Marianna and I visited a Cigar factory showroom, where we could purchase and enjoy one of Cuba's finest. No, not the premium cigar of US$100 each, but the ten for $80 pack. 
  • We bought the 10 pack to enjoy during the rest of our stay in Cuba. 
  • Bringing Cuban cigars into the US is prohibited, 
  • as is Cuban Rum. Do so at your own risk.
  • Driving around, seeing the sights, we spotted a young 15 year old posing for photos for her quinceañera party.  Not to miss the opportunity to photograph a beautiful your lass, I jumped out of the car to grab this.
  • A quiceañera is when a young girl reaches the age of 15, her family celebrates her new womanhood. A coming of age party/tradition popular in Latin America, Caribbean, Spain and many US cities too.
  • Then we met a school teacher drawing water from a well in the middle of the city for his family.
  • The sun is bright, shadows are harsh in the middle of a hot day.
  • Temperature in the nineties.
  • On a shaded plaza bench, a young couple are spooning and cooing. 
  • Discreet photography called for here.
  • A shared sweet dessert won him a smile and admiring looks from his lady friend.
  • This is the dry season now, no rains until later in April or May.
  • The mid-day sun is intense, umbrellas are a common sight.
  • Hmmm... which American automobile had this hood ornament? 
  • There are many, many old American cars still on the road in Cuba today. More on that later.
  • That evening Osmany returned to take us on a night tour of the city.
  • He has a URAL Servicar. Have only seen photos from the URAL factory of these.
  • His special rig has several modifications to keep it running and functionable. 
  • Note a steering wheel now replaces the handlebars. Also the transmission shifter is a lever,
  •  not the Ural floor pedal. 
  • Everywhere we went the traffic was light due to a fuel shortage.
  • This service station was closed as they had nothing to sell today.
  • A common sight in Havana. Maybe tomorrow they will get a shipment. 
  • The station employees work for the government so they receive their wages for showing up,
  • even if there is no fuel to pump.
  • The National Hotel is well lit at night.
  • Young couples enjoy the cool breezes along the malecon (waterfront). 
  • Being a week night, not many are here. But the weekends are a different story.
  • We wandered around looking for that special photo op, where light and shadows come into play. 
  • Never once our entire time in Havana did we ever feel threatened, in danger or think maybe we were in the wrong neighborhood.
  • That wraps up our first exhausting non-stop day of events in Havana. 
  • Tomorrow starts the photo workshop on street photography. 
DRONE, George and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
DRONEGeorgeBig TomReardan Tom
Day Three in CUBA
More sidecar photos and activities will be happening on Monday when we ride out to the countryside,
 but for now Friday, it is the Street Photogaphy workshop. Four attendees, Hogar from Berlin, Michele, a Frenchman from Washington, DC, Alan from Houston and myself.  Thorston Von Oovergard, a Danish professional photographer is the group leader.
What follows below are a few of the Cuban images I captured while strolling around the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Vedado is a modest upscale neighborhood near the US Embassy. Like everywhere in Cuba, there is little class distinction or separation economically.
We'll start with the only color photo of the day. 
Sunrise, start of another warm tropical day. 
As the sun rises higher in the sky, the importance of cool shade increases dramatically.
Temperature hit 92 F this day.
Was surprised this gentleman agreed to be photographed. 
He had the aura of a bodyguard or security official.  Nothing sinister, but looks like he could handle any situation. He is the only person I met in Cuba that had that vibe.


American cars are not the only relics still on the road. 
I can imagine finding parts there for this British sports car is a serious challenge.
Amazing how they keep these old Detroit rods looking sharp and running.


Enough of the cars, let's see the faces of Cuba...
a Marxist book seller finds a a shady spot to lay out his wares on abandoned steps. 
Conversing with friends, this lady found a spot of cool shade.


Busy watching her chickens peck the hard ground, 
she was making sure they did not wander off. 
Gotta keep an eye on her source of eggs.


And she was watching her husband the carpenter repair a wooden door. 
He was the only person who wanted to talk politics with me. 
Changed the subject... fast.


This sweet grandmother gifted Alan the best cigar of his trip.


A friendly neighbor who asked why we would want to photograph a
 "boring, nothing happens here" street, those were her words.


And this was the only person who asked us to photograph her children.


A beautiful school teacher relaxing outside her classroom.
Cuban has the highest literacy rate of any Latin America country. There are small schools everywhere, from pre-K to University Preparatory. Cuban medical doctor are respected for being better trained, thus are in demand everywhere. The number quoted is, "Cuban has ten thousand doctors contracted out to hospitals around the world".  That generates a large portion of Cuba's foreign currency income.


Stopping at a coffee shop, Jose was our waiter. 
He agreed to poise for a photo. What a smile!


These two gentlemen relaxing in the shade, asked if we wanted to buy cigars. 
Those were good smooth smoking US$1 cigars we bought from that plumber.


The Jazz Music School students set up a free concert outdoors for the benefit of the neighborhood. 
Our good fortune was to be walking down that street at the right hour. Their proud professor invited us into the courtyard to take photos.


Have no idea what this couple's discussion was about, but it shows in her eyes.
Glad I was able to capture the moment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

That is what street photography is all about. 
Being attune to what is going on around you. Look for the play of light and shadows, 
people's expressions and actions. Nothing is staged, cannot plan a shot. Just be ready, be aware, make sure your camera is turned on, walk slowly, be looking 360.
To close out the day's images, I offer you this unforgettable 
"Moon Over Havana" shot!



About half of today's images were shot without the person knowing they were being photographed. My camera does not have a telephoto lens, so I have to be up close to capture a sharp face. To do that, have learned from pros how to set the camera, shoot from the hip, with arms crossed, from behind, etc.  It pays off to practice and learn from the best.
Tomorrow's workshop, we focus on capturing casual portraits, more shots from the streets.
Our Doctor contact wrangled us a special invitation to a small live performance of Cuban singing, dancing, poetry tomorrow night.
Will be a low-light situations with lots of movement, 
a challenge to capture with a camera.
Thanks for following along,
SwampFox, DRONE and AceinSav have reacted to this post.

Thank you Jan, I enjoy your photos and comments.

Once upon the time my wife insisted:"We need to visit Cuba while Fidel is still alive." We made it just in time like "conventional tourists from a capitalist country". Means we were the geese to gut. Since then I would love to return, but touring the country with a rig.

Just remembering and observing your photos, my former bruises start to itch again: "Keep your mouth shut!"

I wish you that today's atmosphere might be more relaxed and calm.

Enjoy your trip and watch well over your "rim of the soup plate". 



PS: My life long wish has been: There should be more (US Americans and other) 1st world inhabitants, who would travel around the world "off track" and get their eyes opened for "real life elsewhere". It would help everybody. Your photos give interesting insights.

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SwampFoxCCjonReardan Tom
Day Four In Cuba,  
Photography Workshop - Portraits
Today we studied light, working to master it with casual portraits.
Alan's turn to pose...
Then took a short stroll in Old Havana

The Woven Straw Hat Vendor with his mobile rack...

Piggy-backed onto a professional shoot in Poet's Alley, 
young model poses for video and still cameramen.
Not sure what the product was they were trying to illustrate, her, makeup or the dress.
She didn't move so don't think it was a music video.

Nearby an older model dressed in a traditional Cabana Nightclub outfit 
waits for a tourist to pay for a photo of her and her two friends.
Another portrait captured without the subject knowing it.

Saturday evening we went to a social event for the older generation in Havana's New National Theater. 
The space can only accommodate 80-100 persons so reservations were necessary. 
Our Doctor friend knew the manager. He got us in on short notice.
When we arrived late at 5:30, the ladies had already warmed up the floor dancing since 4 pm. 
The majority of the people there were widows, some couples. In the States we would call this a senior citizen's dance, not in Cuba. Here it is an exclusive dance party requiring reservations.
Some of the ladies were quite spirited with their salsa dance moves. 
And they knew all the words to all the great songs they grew up with.

As the beat goes on, more and more people joined in on the dancing.
Using a cane for walking was no excuse for not getting out on the dance floor.
The ladies were cutting loose, really enjoying themselves.
It was not alcohol loosening them up, it was the beat of the music that awakens their memories.

As different singers got on the stage to entertain, the party grew even more lively.

Since there is a regular shortage of gentlemen partners to dance with, 
the savvy manager brings in professional dancers to keep the ladies moving and happy.

Don't have a partner, no worry! Dance by yourself among the tables.
Everyone else is doing it!

This B&W photo does not do justice to the lady in the lemon yellow dress, so...
...this is Alan's shot. That's better!
A striking beauty.
Even younger singers could keep the beat going. 
A total of seven or eight different singers entertained this group.

Another performer had a dancer join her on the stage as they rocked the beat.
While people danced, I did my dance, capturing images.
Alan grabbed this shot as the lady in white showed me her moves.
A unique Cuban art form of entertainment is poetry. Like a battle of the bands, but is a Battle of the Poets. Each in turn making a very emotional, dramatic recitation of their poem. In Cuba's history, many poems became song lyrics and vice versa.
By eight PM the lights were turned up, the crowd reluctant to end so early, slowly dispersed.
This Saturday night event will repeat itself once again in seven days. 
Entry fee is the equivalent of one US Dollar.
We felt honored as foreigners to be allowed to experience this local entertainment.
Outside the theater Che and Camillo, two 1959 revolution martyrs, preside over the empty Plaza...

As we leave the Theater, we notice a younger crowd entering 
for an art show on the lower level.

The music and arts scene in Havana is alive and thriving.
Back at the apartment,  exhausted Alan and I relax with cigars and a Cuba Libre.

And our Cuban adventure continues... 
The Havana tourist sites we thought we would visit and photograph 
are quickly fading from definite plans to maybe if there's time. 
So many doors have been opened for us, there are not enough hours in the day for routine touristy stuff.
Tomorrow, last day of the photo workshop, 
then Monday, an outing with the sidecar Club.
(Many thanks to Alan for sharing some of his color photos here.)
AceinSav, Craig and FlyingMonkeys have reacted to this post.
Looks to be another hot sunny Sunday in Havana. 
Was over 92 degrees yesterday, is expected to reach 94 today.
This final day of the photography workshop, we focused on using natural light 
to create dramatic casual portraits.
Hogar from Berlin is our model.
Determining the right camera settings is a challenge 
when working with both strong bright light and deep shadows. 
The tropical sunlight is Cuba is strong and bright, 
creating those contrasting heavy shadows.


A second shot, working the light.
Then it was, let's take a walk. 
The streets were not as busy or crowded like on Saturday. Could be since today is Election Day in Cuba. The schools were polling places with students in school uniforms working the process. Decided to not try photographing the polling places, best to stay low-key and away from
 any "official government type" of activity. 
In the middle of the day, a lone lady drags a shopping cart uphill in the empty street.


We stumbled across an abandoned Provincial Courthouse built in 1910. 
The gate was unlocked so we explored the inside.
Old deteriorating buildings like this make for interesting photos,
just watch your step.
A roof-less courtyard allows light to stream in.


These do not look like an original stairs,  were added later?


Down the block were two split window sedans waiting for restoration, or to be stripped further for parts.
Could not determine the age or manufacturer of these vehicles.
Does anyone recognize them?


The steel bodies appear to be good candidates for restoration, 
finding working running gear might be the bigger challenge.


These neighborhood kids wanted their photo taken. They asked which magazine their picture would be found. Informed them, they would be famous in the world of sidecars.
Here you go Lila, Alex and Raul, you are now published and famous.


We wind up this slow hot lazy day with a photo of a bouquet...
 a bouquet of Montecristos.
Apropos for Cuba don't you think?
In the evening we dined at the home of our Doctor friend Rafael. His daughter and I bonded immediately. 
He told her Grandfather was coming for dinner.
Carmen is five years old.
Maybe it was the small bag of candy I brought for her that won her over?
I know, suspicious looking old men handing out candy to babes.
Tomorrow we join the Ural Club for a ride out into the country for a social event.
We are looking forward to getting out of the city and meeting the club members.
Till then... ride safe.
DRONE and Reardan Tom have reacted to this post.
DRONEReardan Tom

You are certainly living life to the fullest, my friend, no doubt about it!!

CCjon has reacted to this post.
- "retired" WA state rep. Many years and many posts more than what show up here now.

I'm gonna go with a 1938 Ford Deluxe Sedan.

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CCjon and Reardan Tom have reacted to this post.
CCjonReardan Tom

I think you nailed that one, Drone, great find! I regret not getting a better look at the front.

The hood ornament, the top mounted windshield wipers, suicide doors and location of rear door hinges all match up.

1938... same year as the BMW design Russia copied to build the first URAL sidecar rigs?




Craig has reacted to this post.
Day Six in CUBA
Outing with the Ural Club
The Ural Club of Cuba had a planned birthday party for two of its members at a relative's home in the country. After they met Alan and me, the group decided we were okay, 
so they invited us to join in the festivities. 
Osmany, the Club President, met us at midday on Monday,
 to lead the procession out of the city.
Several other members provided a three-wheel escort.

Of course, we had to stop and take a group photo. This was the first wave of the Ural group, 
as more members joined in throughout the day. Last count was 30 some persons at the party.
In the background is the monument El Cacahual, commemorating a major battle fought to gain independence from Spain in the 1890's.

 It is now a military parade grounds.

From another angle...
We left the main road, following the rigs down country lanes.  Each driver was dodging potholes and washouts, seeking their own line.
Keep in mind, these are all former Russian Military 650cc, kick-start Ural machines.
Some of the modifications made to keep them running are innovative. Rebuilding the complete front end to include a timing chain with tensioner and a deeper cover was one that amazed me.

When cars or other vehicles saw us, they yielded to allow us to stay together as a group.

Arriving in the small country village of Bejucal, 
we snaked our way through the narrow streets.
Note the power lines going everywhere. 


Finally reaching the home where the festivities were to be held.

Again note the power lines, no transformer.  
Our electrical engineer friends will have to explain the advantages of this system.

Immediately, everyone retired to the back porch, looking for a shady spot to sit down.
The crowd grows larger as others arrive. Conversations or should say male banter,
 among the members grew louder. All are having a great time.

While some clean and prepare the fish for frying...
The lady, who they say is the First Lady of the Ural Club, 
served fried cheese appetizers

The matron of the house proudly introduced us to her grandson.

From the states we brought LED headlamp bulbs that fit the older Urals, 
something hard for them to find locally. 
The original founders of this Ural Club were recognized.
Three years ago these five men decided to organize to help each other maintain 
and ride their rigs. 
More recently under Osmany's leadership, they have organized several civic activities to help the community. After the hurricane that battered Cuba last fall, they carried supplies and necessities to a devastated village. Next month they are hosting a party for children without families.

After the presentation of LED bulbs and a few USCA rally shirts,
attention turned to a most serious sport in Cuba... Dominos.

Friendly banter arose as teams competed against other teams. 
Is the first I had heard of Team Dominos.
Osmany and our doctor friend Rafael (with the straw hat) get in on the action.

As losing teams were replaced with new players, the volume of voices and laughter rose.
Chris here has an infectious smile and easy laugh.

When a misplay happened, a major discussion ensued, explaining 
why one could not do that in Cuba Team Play.

As the men enjoyed the cold beer, a more serious, sober group of players 
took control of the table... the ladies.

The intensity and focus on what was happening in the game changed, 
the vocal volume dropped. Their concentration was evident. 

Am positive this was not their first time to play dominoes.
The ladies quickly took control, dominating the table, no loud voices, no drinking, no misplays, just straight up tile slamming and smiling as they scored points.
I would not play against those ladies for money.

Late that afternoon we said our farewells to the club, knowing they might be here till the late hours. We had to return to the city to prepare for a long drive the next day to a tobacco farm.
The Ural Club of Cuba members send their greetings to sidecar riders everywhere, saying when you come to Cuba, let us know, so we can show you around.
By profession, the members range from mechanics to doctors, from tour guides to business managers. They are a great group of guys who love their sidecar rigs, work hard to keep them running, enjoy riding together and giving back to the community.
They set an example for all sidecar clubs worldwide to follow.

Osmany, the President of the Ural Club of Cuba, 
 is now the Cuba Country Rep for the USCA.
Thank you for your spirited hospitality.
Ride safe, y'all
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DRONECraigReardan TomFlyingMonkeys
Last day in Cuba, up for an early morning walk...
Before the fruit vendor can set out his produce, customers start lining up.
Cuba is very clean, people take care of their neighborhood. Many buildings are falling down as no one there owns any interest in it, i.e. no skin in the game. 
But that is no reason why your front yard cannot be clean.


Some people take pride in how their front yard looks..


In a nearby plaza, the PE teacher was testing students on soccer dribbling skills.
The older the car, the harder it is to find spare parts.


Or try to fix it yourself. 
"I can see clearly now"


A well cared for '57 Chevy to be envied...


That Chevy cannot transport a bed frame, but a tricycle can.


Rounding the corner, spotted this artist at work.
His drawing was not the scene in front of him, but a herd of horses.  
He said the morning shade was a pleasant working spot, better than being indoors.


The next street up was a small outdoor flea market, 
with artwork similar to what the artist was drawing.
Was this market for the few tourists walking by or who...? 


On our last day in Cuba, we drove three and half hours out of Havana 
to a tobacco farm in the valley near Viñales. 
We wanted to get photos of cigars being rolled, the old fashion way. 
In Havana there are several large government-owned cigar factories with numerous employees 
manufacturing well known brands of cigars. The worst cigar I had this trip was from one of those factories.
In Viñales I hoped to once again experience the rich flavor and smooth easy draw 
of a hand rolled cigar made by an artisan.


Leaving the city, we headed west.
Nearing the valley, we saw something that is not seen in the States anymore, a team of oxen.   In the distance was a team of ox pulling a plow turning the soil. Too far away to photograph.
Note the snapped off trees in the background. Hurricane Ike came through here last fall, 
wrecking havoc far and wide.
Most of the tobacco drying sheds were destroyed by the hurricane
 as they are not sturdy structures. Their purpose is to provide shade and to keep the rain off the drying tobacco leaves.
We saw numerous new drying barns being built in the valley. When finished they will have a palm leaf thatch roof that keeps the rain out but also allows good air circulation.


Worker using a chainsaw to trim the longer poles.
Notice no pre-cut lumber being used. 


Another Oxen team pulling a cart came into view. 
Note the wood harness and nose rings used to manage them.
Their horn tips have been bobbed as a safety factor.

At the farm, the farmer gave us a tour, explaining the cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, drying and grading before selling the tobacco leaves. He explained the government
 agents inspect the dried leaves, grades them and tells them what they will pay for 90% of their crop. 
From planting through harvesting to drying, then finally selling the leaves takes almost two years.
The farmer is allowed to keep 10% of his crop to sell on the open market or roll his own cigars. 
Roll their own is what they do here. 
Then he demonstrated how he was taught to roll a cigar by his grandparents. 
Detailing many little techniques his family employs to make the best artisan cigar they can.


Their secret ingredient to the final wrap was a touch of honey
 from their hives to seal the edges so it does not unwrap. 


Trimming the end, he dipped the cigar in honey, lit it and puffed away.
All the while explaining the best way to smoke and enjoy a good cigar.


His mother then demonstrated how she rolls her cigars.


And of course, Alan had to try one of the cigars he had just witnessed being rolled.
He gave it a double thumbs up for smoothness and flavor.


After having a typical Cuban lunch in the valley, we returned to Havana, 
exhausted but satisfied with what we learned.
That my friends, wraps up our trip to Cuba. Tomorrow we fly back to Texas.
Thank you for following along, hope you learned something new about Cuba and its people. 
Maybe even consider making your own trip to the island.
Don't let anyone discourage you from going there. 
Today it is legal for US citizens to visit Cuba. A year from now... 
who knows where we'll be.
Cuba is safe, the people are very friendly and the cost is very reasonable.
Upcoming, Sidecars in the Smokies Rally at the end of April, 
then the East Texas sidecar gathering in May,
followed by the USCA National Rally in June.
2023 is shaping up to be a great year to own a sidecar rig.
Ride safe, ride far.
p.s. Once again credit goes to Alan Wilson for all the color photos you have seen in this Cuba story.
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DRONEAceinSavReardan TomFlyingMonkeys

I'm thinking you'll be able to fill an entire edition of the Sidecarist magazine on your return from Cuba, CCJan.... Also wondering if you or someone in your group speaks Spanish like a native Cuban. Perhaps you mentioned this somewhere and I missed it? Sure seems like a trip of a lifetime. I have a dear long time friend from Cuba, currently living in Spain. My dream trip would be to see Cuba with Raul as my guide and interpreter. But alas... my travel days are over now.

CCjon and FlyingMonkeys have reacted to this post.
- "retired" WA state rep. Many years and many posts more than what show up here now.

I appreciate your comments Tom. In the end, I was the only one in the group that spoke Spanish. I speak a Colombian style Spanish, but is close enough that could laugh and joke with the people. The biggest challenge was they have different words for some things, or idioms that are not common outside of Cuba.

Not sure the whole trip would be appropriate for the Sidecarists, maybe a short article about the Ural Club of Cuba?



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Reardan TomFlyingMonkeys

I've found your trip very interesting as posted here. But perhaps you're right, to read the same thing over again in the hard copy Sidecarist might not be of interest to everyone. But there are quite a few stories that don't tickle everyone's fancy. I can't think of any particular ones right now. I think Martin does a fantastic job with what everyone submits for publication. I look forward to every single issue.

Craig and FlyingMonkeys have reacted to this post.
- "retired" WA state rep. Many years and many posts more than what show up here now.