“Ridin’ in My Chevy” away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Today’s edition will bring to a close the trip that Rose and I made to Havana, Cuba. 

I probably could have run a further two editions but for the sake of everyone’s boredom levels (mine included) this will be  the final instalment in the ‘John & Rose go to Cuba’ series. If you’ve missed the previous instalments (how dare you) you can find them at:





Rose and I did quite a lot of walking in Havana so for our final day we decided that we would take it easy and we’d try some of the transport options.

When we left the hotel grounds we considered our options.

A classic convertible

or a plain, old taxi (cab for you non UK readers)

or a Lada!


a tuk-tuk (or auto rickshaw) ?

We hadn’t been in a tuk-tuk since visiting Thailand in the ’90s ( that’s 1990s for those of you that think I’m really old) and we’d enjoyed it then . So… the tuk-tuk it was.

The ride to old Havana 

was quick but exciting. A word of warning though. These things are not cheap. Our 2 1/2 mile journey cost 16 CUC (around US$ 16). The same journey in a Lada taxi?  Just 5 CUC.

We got out of the tuk-tuk and got down to the really serious business of choosing a convertible for the open-top tour of Havana we were going to take. And there were plenty to choose from.

But then we saw the ONE for us.

And Rose couldn’t wait to try it out for size. And it fitted just right.

So I negotiated with the driver’s agent (they all appeared to have one) and managed to get him to reduce the price from the 80 CUC he was insisting upon for a 2 hour tour to 60 CUC. We had a deal. Jorge would be our driver and tour guide.

Now that’s what you call a selfie. And note the Cuban and American flags next to each other. Plus, you also get a look at Jorge.

The vehicle we chose is a 1947 Chevrolet convertible Fleetmaster and its still running with the same engine.


First off was Plaza de la Revolución.

The José Martí monument.

The Che Guevara monument.

The Camilo Cienfuegos monument. 

I passed on watching Cuban women rolling cigars on their thighs

at the tobacco factory and instead we went to Chinatown.

Jorge was great. He parked the car and waited while we walked around.

Next stop was John Lennon Park.

I’m the one on the right.

That’s a bit familiar Rose!

Castro banned the music of The Beatles and John Lennon during the 60s and 70s but did an about-turn in 2000 because he believed that Lennon had been harassed by the US government and that , like himself, was a dreamer.

Regrettably Lennon wasn’t wearing his spectacles. Apparently they have been the subject of theft and/or vandalism and we couldn’t find the security guard that ‘releases’ them for photo moments.

And just around the corner from the statue

the Yellow Submarine cafe.

The 2 hours passed so quickly but I so enjoyed ridin in my Chevy.

With the tour finished it was time for refreshments.

The following day it was time to start the journey home to Belize but for this I had chosen a slightly different route. We would stop off first at Chetumal for a 2 night stay.

We were scheduled to depart from Havana on the 12.00 hours Interjet flight to Cancun with a scheduled arrival of 13.10 hours. Ample time before our next flight at 15.45 hours. But … best laid plans and all that!

The Interjet incoming flight was delayed and we didn’t take off until 14.00 hours and arrived in Cancun at 15.05 hours. Fortunately we cleared Immigration and Customs fairly swiftly and raced outside to get transport to take us to the FBO terminal. We found a shuttle bus service at bought tickets at US$ 20 each (pricey for a 5 minute journey but needs must and all that).

On arrival at the FBO we very quickly found the MayAir‘s desk and checked in for the Cancun to Chetumal service that was launched in January and not long after we were on our way.

Onboard the Dornier Do 228 for the 1 hour and 10 minute flight to 

Upon landing we waited no longer than 5 minutes for our suitcases and seeing that there was a dearth of taxis I booked one at the desk in the airport. Warning though – Mexican Pesos 200 (around US$ 10).

We spent two nights in Chetumal – some dining out and shopping- and then it was back to the airport (the taxi from the hotel this time cost Mexican Peso 80)

to check in

with Tropic Air ( on its recently introduced service) for our flight to Philip S W Goldson International Airport

on a 4 seater Cessna T182T Skylane with

Captain Wally Nuñez for the 30 minute flight. 

A minute wait and a 15 minute flight later we were home.

Cuba. A wonderful place to visit.

 The headline for today’s edition is based on track 17 of Snoop Dogg’s album entitled Ego Trippin’ which reached number 3 on the US Billboard 200 Chart and number 23 on the UK Albums chart.

“Cuba” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize -Part Four.

After showering on the Thursday morning of our trip to Havana, Cuba  Rose noticed quite a lot of water on the floor of the bathroom. And it didn’t come from me splashing around in the shower. A look around the room and she saw the origin. A leaky pipe. 

We went down for breakfast and after finishing this we went straight to Reception to report the problem. The lady behind the desk appeared very concerned and when Rose showed her the photo she had taken (now I would never have thought of doing that) she exclaimed “You cannot stay there. You must move. Is that OK?”. “Yes” we replied in unison.

So she checked the available rooms and handed us new key cards. We were moving from the 5th to the 7th floor. And to a much, much better room. And a Caribbean Sea facing one at that.

We unpacked our suitcases (again) but before heading out for the day took time out to check on Ziggy. Pampered Paws -where Ziggy was staying whilst we were away- posts photos of the “guests”and they’d posted a couple of our boy.

If you don’t know Ziggy he’s the handsome blond boy in the middle.

Ziggy on the left conserving his energy (clever boy) for the walk ahead. And the one on the right – it truly is a dog – is Spartacus who I think is only around 6 months old. Wait until he grows up!

Content that Ziggy was coping without us (well Rose actually – he is a Mummy’s boy) we took the walk to the old town and made our way to Avenida Bélgica where the Museo de la Revolución is located.

We joined the small queue, paid the entry fee of 5 CUC (around US$ 8) and started our tour from the 3rd floor as we were advised to do and then spent nearly 3 hours wandering around looking at the exhibits. And thoroughly interesting it was too.

Blood stained shirt worn by revolutionary Juan Almeida Bosque when he was arrested in Santíago de Cuba.

A vibrant mural depicting one of the many battles.

Fidel Castro’s name written in blood on a door by one of the militiamen.


The magnificent Sálon Dorado (Golden Hall) which is currently being renovated.

The courtyard.

At the rear of the museum are various types of vehicles,planes, weapons and the boat on which Castro travelled from Mexico in 1956 to launch the revolution.

Museo de la Revolución, well worth the visit. Well worth the entry fee.

“Batista Flees”.

But time to move on. We needed a drink!

So we let our ears go to work and listened for music. And they found it ( our ears that is) at La Lluvia de Oro (the Golden Rain).

No microphones. No amplifiers. But these guys were really good. And the mojitos were too!

We could have stayed there for hours but we didn’t, we headed back to our hotel and hadn’t been in our room more than 5 minutes when there was a knock on the door. It was our chambermaid, Tanya, she had a gift for us.

A bottle of champagne from the hotel to apologise for the leak in the bathroom of our first room. Classy.

The bottle didn’t take us to long to knock back (we’re well practiced) and then we showered, got dressed and headed out again. The music was calling!

Time for another mojito methinks.

The next edition will bring our trip to Havana, Cuba to a close. Bet you’re pleased about that!

And once again (this is an all time record) the headline is based on the single by the Gibson Brothers initially released in 1978 which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

“Cuba” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize -Part Three.

If you read the previous edition (and if you didn’t , why not!) you’ll know that Rose and I spent our first afternoon in Havana, Cuba touring our hotel (Hotel Nacional de Cuba) and its magnificent grounds which reminded us so much of some of the grand, old hotels in Sri Lanka.

Feeling my age – I try to fight it but sometimes it just gets the better of me – I suggested to Rose that it might, perhaps, be a good idea to eat at the hotel for our first night. Rose, who it was patently obvious to see, was nowhere near as bushed as me, agreed.

So, after a shower and change of clothes we headed downstairs with the knowledge that we had 4 options to choose from ranging from fine dining at Comedor del Agular to light meals and snacks at Cafeteria “Film Corner”.

The maitre d’ at the La Veranda – here they serve a buffet of international and Cuban cuisine – made our mind up for us. “What’s the price”, Rose enquired (she can be so nosy at times!). “Twenty-five CUC”, the maitre d’ responded. “But tonight, for you, it’s a special price, twenty CUC”.

We asked (well Rose did actually) if it would be OK to have a look to see what was on offer. He affirmed this would be OK. So we did. Have a look at the food, that is.

It was plentiful. And it was varied. And it was for us! So we took a table and feasted on mussels, crab, shrimp, steak, pork and chicken complimented with a good selection of vegetables. We finished of the meal with desert. Rose had a very healthy (she would!) fruit plate. Me? I went for an ice cream combination.  All this for the equivalent of US$ 20. What you call a CUC’ing good deal. There’s little doubt that there’s a good and a bad way to get CUC’ed.

With full bellies we retired (its the type of place where you use language like this!) to a comfortable sofa and got ourselves a couple of drinks from Bar Galería where I reacquainted myself with Señor Mojito. After a couple of more drinks we called it a night. We’d had a busy day. 

Up bright and early the next morning it was straight to La Veranda for us for breakfast. When making the booking I’d gone for the bed and breakfast package,  and a good decision it was too. A wide selection of options to suit everyone’s tastes.

Fuelled up , we went back to our room, grabbed our bags and headed off for the 2 1/2 mile walk along the Malecón to Habana Vieja (Havana old town). Stopping along the way to look at and take photos of what we saw.

Spot the guy that’s a little worse for wear to the left in the photo.

It just seems like there’s music and old cars everywhere.

And then we found it. The Floridita.

The bar famous for its seafood and daiquiris that was a favourite haunt for Ernest Hemingway.

If you look hard you can just (the poor quality photos don’t help) see Hemingway at the end of the bar.

The place was packed, with a constant stream of people (it appears its up near the top of the list for tourists to visit) entering and leaving the establishment. It wasn’t for us. My days of overly packed bars are long since gone. So, took our leave of the place and went where our ears took us. We heard music and we found it at 

Don’t think Rose realises that you photobomb other people’s pictures.

In the next edition you get to join us on our trip to the Museo de la Revolución ( museum of the revolution) and a tour around Havana in an open top car that’s older than me (and, before you think it, in better condition!) and maybe another bar or two.

Today’s headline (which is virtually the same as for the previous edition) is based on the single by the Gibson Brothers initially released in 1978 which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

“Cuba” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize – Part Two.

Now where was I? Oh I remember. Rose and I had just caught a taxi (cab for non UK readers) at Havana’s José Martí International Airport and after skilfully avoiding being CUC’d by our taxi driver were headed to our hotel. 

The journey took around 25 minutes but the time just whizzed by and it seemed like that in no time at all we were pulling in to the driveway of our hotel, Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

Even before we entered the hotel we were impressed. A long, tree lined, two – way driveway and at the end of it the very impressive facade of the hotel.

The taxi pulled up and before the driver had opened his door a uniformed bellboy was waiting to take our suitcases in to the hotel. 

We paid the taxi driver and followed the bellboy up the steps in to the hotel to the Reception Desk.

This poor quality photo really doesn’t do the ground floor justice.

Checking in was completed within minutes and we headed to the lifts (elevators for non UK readers) to go to or room on the 5th floor.

On alighting the lifts a long, tiled hallway led to our room.

And then our room. Not the Caribbean Sea facing room I had hoped for (it overlooked the hotel driveway) but a nice room nonetheless. Sure it had seen better days but that’s a description that can be used for a lot of Cuba.

We unpacked, had a shower (each, obviously) and then took a tour of the hotel and its  plush and lush grounds. Not though before we had made use of the vouchers given to us when checking in

for a complimentary 

mojito! Well, we just had to.

Now I knew that the mojito is of Cuban origin but what I didn’t know was that it might have been invented by an Englishman and first found itself in a goblet in the 16th century when concocted by a colleague of Sir Francis Drake and was named El Draque in his honour (honor for non UK readers). 

Anyway, back to the hotel.

It was built with American investment and opened its doors in 1930

The bar serving the terrace (originally known as the Starlight Terrace Bar).

Seated in the comfortable chairs you can sip and just watch

the peacocks wandering around.

Or just take a walk 

past the fountain and the 

outside restaurant La Bareka and sit for awhile in 

the Garden of Love.

Just like they once did.

I must get one of those selfie sticks!

Or wander down and sit on the terrace that overlooks the Malećon.

Or you can take a look at cannon used in the Spanish-American war and the anti-aircraft guns and bunkers that were used during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 at the Santa Clara Battery.

And the best one of all!

To the side of the hotel and you find the swimming pool with its own snack bar.

And then there are the famous people that stayed there before the revolution.

Errol Flynn.

Nat King Cole. On his first visit he was allowed to perform there but not stay there!

Fred Astaire.

Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra.

And the Mafia connection, Meyer Lansky. He opened and ran a casino there for a number of years.

The hotel is steeped in history and its little wonder that it was made a National Monument and its on the list of places to visit when in Cuba.

Well that’s brought today’s edition to a close and we haven’t even got out of the hotel yet! So, you’ll just have to wait for the next edition.

Today’s headline (which is virtually the same as for the previous edition) is based on the single by the Gibson Brothers initially released in 1978 which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

“Cuba ” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Since moving here (May records our 5th anniversary) Rose and I have ventured ‘out of country’ maybe 10/12 times (me more than her). Chetumal perhaps around 7/8, Merida twice, USA three times and the U.K. and Panama both once each.

During our last trip (to Panama) we determined that we would ‘treat’ ourselves to little trips a lot more frequently so with Christmas safely put away for another year I set about planning our next excursion. A trip to Cuba!

I looked at the numerous ways of gettng there. Favourite (favorite for you non UK readers) for a while was using Copa Airlines via Panama. Amazingly flying in the opposite direction to Cuba worked out less expensive than taking the more obvious route via Cancun. Strange but true.

But in the end we plumped to travel via Cancun. Why? Well because of the fairly recent introduction of two new services. More expensive than the option via Panama but we’d get to try out some new flights. So I made the arrangements. Not though before I’d made certain that we had accommodation in Havana booked.

Now normally when making travel arrangements I don’t worry too much about finding somewhere to stay before I organise the journey but I just had a feeling that this might not be the most sensible approach for this particular excursion. And I’m so pleased that (on this occasion) I ‘went’ with my instinct. 

The more I Googled , the more frustrated I became. It seemed that every hotel I chose was fully booked for all or some of the dates we wanted. I could have switched tack and booked via Airbnb where I found plenty of options but we had decided that it would be a hotel for us. So, being the determined (some might say stubborn  …) type that I am I persisted. And persistence paid off. I made a booking with Hotel National de Cuba. But more about this iconic hotel later.

With our travel and accommodation arrangements made there was only one thing left to do. Book Ziggy’s ‘holiday’ arrangements. And where better than ‘Residencia canina de Pampered Paws‘. It’s Ziggy’s favourite holiday retreat!

On the Monday morning all three of us set off. Rose and I with our suitcases and Ziggy with his provisions and favourite toy. We (well Rose actually) said a tearful farewell to Ziggy when we dropped him off

and then I dropped Rose and our suitcases off at Tropic Air and then parked the cart.

Now for the travel information (for those of you who might be interested):

12.00 hours flight from San Pedro to Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (15 minute flight time).

15.30 hours flight from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport to Cancun FBO terminal (1 hour 45 minute flight time).

During this flight I grew convinced that one of the pilots was taking a nap

so I thought I’d join him (c’mon, I got up early and had been for breakfast). Where, you ask. Obviously it was Estel’s Dine By the Sea

By the way, the Tropic Air pilot wasn’t really asleep.

After clearing Customs and Immigration at the FBO we went outside the terminal and got on a Lomas Travel mini-bus (as arranged by our hotel (Comfort Inn) to take us to Terminal 2 where, after around a 10 minute wait we were collected by our hotel’s shuttle bus.

After signing in at the hotel we very quickly freshened up and headed out for a meal (Burger King – what else!), had a couple of Coronas at the hotel bar and retired to bed. An earlyish start the next day.

Strange as it may seem although our hotel can collect guests from Cancun airport it’s prevented from taking them to the airport so we had to take a taxi (cab for non UK readers) which cost us 180 Mexican Pesos (around US$ 9).

Once in the terminal we headed to the relevant Interjet check-in desk where we were immediately approached by a member of staff who asked if we had our Tourist Card for Cuba. We didn’t but within 5 minutes and US$ 40 (US$ 20 each) later we did. 

With our ‘visas’ secured we joined the queue for our 10.00 hours flight to Havana.

To our right was a queue of a different kind.

A plethora of electronic goods taking the same flight as us.

Once we’d checked in we went through Immgration and headed straight to the currency exchange to change some US dollars  for Mexican pesos (you can change US dollars for Cuban currency but it comes at the cost of an additional fee of 10% over and above the 3% currency exchange fee).

With the ‘necessaries’ taken care of we grabbed ourselves a breakfast

No one said you couldn’t have a beer at 08.30 hours!

The plane took off on schedule (Interjet has a better on time performance record than Cubana which is the other airline I looked at. And it has a better baggage allowance. And it’s CHEAPER.).

I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of leg room.

I know I’m not the tallest but even I enjoy a bit of space between my knees and the seat in front of me.

The duration of the flight was 1 hour and 10 minutes and on landing it took around 30 minutes to clear Immigration and collect our bags and then it was straight outside to get ourselves some Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC , the Cuban currency for tourists.

And then grab a taxi to our hotel.

It was when asking the price that we had our first experience of someone trying to CUC us ( and attempt to charge above the normal rate)! 

The driver  quoted 30 CUC. We countered with 25 ( the price I’d been advised of by our hotel).He shook his head negatively. We made to move on but had done no more than place our hands on the suitcase handles before we heard “OK, 25 CUC”. We let go of the handles and he placed the suitcases in the boot (trunk for non UK readers). We were on our way to the hotel!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of our trip to Havana.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single by the Gibson Brothers initially released in 1978 which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart.