When I arrive in Miami, whether from Havana or Doha in Qatar, I enjoy the proximity of Cuba and its latin flavour. Always, my closest friends there invite me to share meals and it was a pleasure recently to reciprocate these favours.
The treasure of Cuba lies in its people and I have enjoyed this treasure chest ever since I became a visiting professor of Anthropology and recently an Ambassador for the National Institute of Endocrinology.
Cuba welcomes visitors regardless of your nationality. A tourist card is all that you need to enter the country which is sold for 20 Dollars in Panama and 100 dollars by American Airlines and 50 by JetBlue and Southwest.
Tourism by American citizens are not permitted, this includes citizens of other countries living in the USA with Green Cards. All other nationalities can enter Cuba either directly from the USA or numerous other countries which maintain flights daily from their capitals. From the caribbean alone, there are flights from Nassau, Port Au Prince, Cayman Islands, Santo Domingo, French West Indies, Dutch West Indies and the caribbean ports in Venezuela, Colombia, not to mention all the capital cities of the Central America. I recommend either to come by a direct flight from Miami or connect through Miami or Fort Lauderdale using USA based airlies or Panama using COPA airlines.
I recommend coming for Educational purposes such as the upcoming annual meeting of the Endocrine Society of Cuba. If you need a second opinion on any medical problem, Cuba has the finest medical institutions in Latin America and certainly the most compassionate one in all the americas including USA.
Ciro Garcia offers private consultations by specialists for a nominal fee, there are neuro restorative institutes.
I am associated with the National Institute of Endocrinology and very proud of the consultant Endocrinologists who are world class. They are assisted by a group of very well trained Psychologists and Nutritionists. I believe our Institute is the only one in the world where all patients can request Psychological evaluation and mandatory for all Cuban patients with Endocrine disorders such as Obesity, Diabetes or Cushings Syndrome to mention a few.
Here are some pictures from a recent reunion with some visiting friends. We lead the world in Trans Gender Endocrinology and Psychology, the Cuban Institute of Sexual Medicine CENESEX is headed by no one other than the daughter of the President of Cuba!
Once you have your educational programme planned and an invitation issued, please make sure that you have the evenings and the weekend free to enjoy the treasure of Cuba, the people. I recommend that you stay in a private home which can be booked through Air BnB. Whenever possible patronize private restaurants but Cuban creole food is best enjoyed when cooked by someone in their homes, so good luck. I personally do not visit Paladares which serve Cuban food as I have my neighbours prepare and invite me for good Cuban Tucker as we say in Australia.
I had the pleasure of organizing a recent educational visit by some friends and making sure that they spend as much time as possible with private Cuban citizens and apart from taking refuge at a hotel lobby from fierce sun of august in Cuba they visited no hotels or government establishments. They stayed with me, each night ate with my friends, who would come with prepared cuban food. I had instructed my friends to bring wines of their choice, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zeland, and Bogle Pinot Noir and Petite Syrah as well as some Chilean wines. You can get wines in Cuba but it is a country known for Cigars and Rum rather than wine. I was able to offer them a Hoyos de monterrey Robusto and we did drink a Cuba Libre (a local drink attributed to a drunk american sailor during their occupation of Cuba 1895-1905)
On the appointed day of their arrival I had a meeting with the Ambassador from Malaysia who is a friend of mine, with whom I am engaged in an Art from Cuba project. I hurried to the airport only to find that the flight has been delayed by one hour. The following pictures are in no particular order but tells you of our culinary adventure in Cuba, thanks to my Cuban friends. The two restaurants we visited were GUSTO run by a Sicilian and his Cuban wife near FOCSA as well as CUBAPASION run by a Belgian who is married to a colleague of mine from the University.
Breakfast with Bagels and Cream Cheese at home.
the town of Bermejas where we were invited to a sumptuous lunch.
Visiting parents of a cuban doctor volunteering in Qatar. It filled me with joy to know the sacrifices Cubans do so that they can serve others. Good Example to all people around the world studying to become Doctors (Cuba educated more than 20 000 students from poorer countries in the world including some Black Americans and Latinos from the USA to become Doctors. It is a source of pride for me.)
This small town in Matanzas surrounded by Sugar cane factories used to have an international airport before the triumph of the Cuban revolution. No trace of that aspect of North American colonialism is left.
Our neighbour preparing the lamb dinner of welcome to our guests
It is a delight to see these old cars still running, this one from the 1940s!
The arrival hall of the International airport is always chaotic and noisy, the arrival board showing flights arriving from various countries. Soon after the Jet Blue landed, a KLM flight from Amsterdam and an Air Europa flight from Madrid as well as flights from Miami, New York and Mexico landed. What a commotion! But the immigration and customs processes are very easy (I have to thank Obama for that )
A welcome drink of Pina Colada at CubaPasion is always welcome
I am a Jew so we welcomed the Shabbat, in a very warm Cuban way. The Challah cover was made by Sarah Cohen who is one of the last Jews of Jew Town in Cochin in India.
Each night we had at least 10 people over for dinner, all of us had plenty of good home cooked Cuban meals as well as our favourite wines: Kim Crawford from NZ in my case.
no preserved foods, vegetables of the season, home made icecream, good cuban coffee for that could stomach it so to speak, fruits, chocolates from Belgium as well as local seafood paste, saumon et thon from Quiberon in France.
The only day off was at the beach/pool in Havana where we spent a long day schmoozing as we say in Yiddisch. Friendship is an investment and one has to nurture it at all times.
One thing came to my mind as I was writing this. An elderly Meskwakia told me: just because you were good yesterday, we dont have to treat you well, you have to be good today as well to deserve that.
So dont rest on your laurels! that is the lesson
A medical student who wants to specialize in Family Practice and then go abroad to volunteer and to specialize in Paediatrics when she comes back. When she finishes, with 3 years abroad, she will be 30 years old. This is the success of Cuban Medicine.
Shrimp in Thai curry sauce
C, who is a third year History student at the University of Havana, is a friend who waits on the table. She speaks English as well as Japanese.
we had just finished our Kiddush when our neighbour wanted us to look at her burn from a motorcycle fall. She had been seen at the Policlinic and prescribed appropriate medications and given leave from her work in a hospital. She appreciated my friend's opinion and attention.
a local oeneologist savouring our wines and passing his opinion.
It is always lovely to see the outlines of the buildings of my neighbourhood.
The medical student had travelled from another province to come and greet us. It was our pleasure to have her with us.
Matanzas as seen from Montserrate.
Cuba is a tranquil and safe country. It is not unsual see teenage girls walking home alone after 10 pm, many a time from the Parque nearby where they had gone to check their emails or have a conversation with the relatives in Miami through the video app imo. Public wifi is becoming ubiquitous in Cuba, even small town squares have wifi on the offer.
So it is time for you to come and visit Cuba! Cristobal Colon admired it, was the home of the defiant Taino Indian HATUEY and the generations of defiant Cubans including Antonio Maceo, Jose Marti and Fidel Castro. A lovely land full of history, the most hospitable and affectionate and kind and considerate people in all of the caribbean. If you speak Spanish it would help you, even though more and more people in Cuba are beginning to speak English at least at the level of communication..
Cuba and I will be waiting..
PS as if I needed any more gifts, I had the chance to meet a lovely fellow australian from Perth with some Cochin connection! at Havan airport..