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About Ryan

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  • Birthday 10/19/1969

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  1. From this news, it looks like anyone with a Cuban sim card now has access to 4G in Cuba (Havana at least). Handy for those who need some internet during a stay. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/etecsa-releases-use-of-4g-in-cuba/
  2. Super, I'll do that. It'll be good to meet up again! I remember now, you were a bit green around the gills that day alright!
  3. There were 30 of those made. Seeing that cabinet reminded me of a story of a friend of mine who once sold a house to buy wine! It is a very nicely put-together piece though.
  4. Minnesota in February. Very tempting. I'd love to call up to you and Mrs. Guano at some point but probably not next Feb, in transit to and from Cuba it's probably simpler for me to avoid taking bags out of airside in the US. Air France prices fluctuate all the time. Will you both be there in November/February?
  5. If you have the time, I'd be very happy to share one with you at Espacios in November Nino!
  6. Fakes in Cuba. Where to begin? 1. Somebody went to Cuba recently and had such a cool time they posted a video on Vimeo. Have a look from about 2:35 in to the video. https://vimeo.com/64713827?fbclid=IwAR1Ob5eE1tNI8A01teEfX6JqzfJ3sc7c5Aredg4Xyea5x2n6qvkO0NxHoe0 That's the first time I've seen glass-top boxes in Havana. 2. At a LCDH, the only time I've been (or ever will be) at this particular one. I won't mention the name but it's on the other side of the harbour. February 2018, an opened box of Talismans on the counter with 8 cigars left in the box. "I'll take the lot", I says, "and the box too." "Sorry, we can't give you the box." For those who don't know, if you ever hear that in a shop in Cuba don't buy the cigars if you want to be sure you are not buying fakes. "OK, just one cigar then." It was fake, enough alarm bells on the cigar and band right away. 3. Fake Santiago 11 year old rum in government shops last February. First time I had seen fake rum. No cardboard outer and the text on the label was slightly blurry. I tasted side by side with real Santiago 11 year old and big difference. 4. Condoms on pizza. I remember seeing a video a few years ago of a guy in Cuba going through an old recipe book that had been issued during the Special Period. Issued to show citizens how to get by on reduced rations. A recipe on how to fry grapefruit skins to make them act like steak was mentioned. I can't remember seeing condom pizza in that video, though I have heard the story many times, so who knows. If it was ever done in Cuba, I don't think it is now. Nevertheless, use discretion when asking for "extra mozzarella" in Cuba! 5. A pile of boxes of Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva in the men's room of the Salon Rojo for $80 a box. These may not have been fakes, but I know the men's room attendant wasn't in a position to issue Facturas. 🙄 I posted about this a few years ago. https://www.friendsofhabanos.com/forum/topic/114208-havana-a-tale-of-two-monte-gran-reservas/?tab=comments#comment-380844 6. Countless offers in bars, hotels, restaurants, side-streets, outside factories etc. From very good, a box of Cohiba Esplendidos in Habana Vieja with everything perfect, warranty seal, new bands (perfect) etc. Strangely, he wouldn't let me take a picture! To silly: wax-paper wrapped bundles of Cohiba Robustos in a micro-brewery in Plaza Vieja. To surreal: a chap literally sitting on a pile of horse manure (I presume minding it) on Calle O near the Nacional, offering me "cigars, Cohiba". I presume with "barnyard aroma" built in. Then there's the issue of "exceptional charges". "Bribe" sounds so uncivilised! For me, just once. And that was to buy a police report for a lost (stolen) phone, for insurance purposes. I've posted about that here before too. The phone was genuine, the report too. The charge wasn't, but it was reasonable. All parties were happy. Maybe I've been lucky, but never at an airport, even when stopped, though I've been prepared. I've never paid "extra" at any cigar shop for hard to find cigars or anything like that. Having said that, I will always have a box of chocolates for staff in some shops, who I regard as friends now. But that's never for cigars. As often as not, I'm not even buying cigars in those shops on that trip. And I would say, regardless of wherever you are in the world, don't offer anyone in uniform a "bribe", unless you are completely familiar with the lay of the land. If they ask, that's one thing. And, if you can, have a local do the negotiation for you. Having said all that, there are times when I keep about $50 dollars worth of local currency in the picture page of my passport as an emergency fund when going through an airport. There might be an exit-charge, something in Duty-Free I want to buy, a charge for use of the lounge. And if that emergency fund goes missing, well that's just fortuitous carelessness. It has always come home with me so far though. Food in Cuba. As Nino, Prez, and others have said, there is plenty of good food in Havana now to eat well in two different places everyday for two weeks. Some of my favourite dishes in the world are in Cuba, the Ceviche in Santy's, the Marlin Tacos in La Guarida, the grilled eggplant in La Corte del Principe, and I'm not even a big fish fan. Do some research, plenty of info on this forum and you'll be fine. Some rules of thumb. If there are tourist buses outside, unless it's El Aljibe, don't bother with it. Grey "meat" in brown "gravy" on soggy "pasta" or "rice" will be their most popular dish. If you walk past a restaurant and the tables look perfect, perfect tablecloths, lots of spotless glasses and tableware perfectly set up and the waiters standing around waiting for something, keep walking. It will be the worst food-to-price experience you'll ever have. And probably simply one of the worst food experiences. The burger in the Parque Central is usually decent if you're in the mood but always ask for "well-done". Always. Especially in my company, as I'm the one who'll end up with your "medium" or rare one and you will not want to swap. Then we'll never talk again. If you meet a Cuban person on the street and they recommend a restaurant, don't take them up on it, you won't end up happy. Sometimes I'll have a chat with them, but only if I'm looking for something specific (bar etc.). The simplest, quickest way to end that conversation is telling them you already have a reservation somewhere else. The ham and cheese in the Nacional. I know it's not "haute-cuisine" (Nino!) but I still find myself coming back to it. It's Havana's comfort-food. Cheap(ish), quick and easy. I've had great 3-hour meals in Havana and I love them, but I can't do two of them a day, every day. But every place will have its food that some people love and others just don't "get". For me, it's lamb in Cuba. I just don't get the love. I've had it, once, that's all I need. I have good lamb in Ireland, maybe that has ruined me. There was a thread here before about duck in Cuba and the scarcity of living examples. I would say the same about lamb. I've seen a few goats but never anything that would even pass as a lamb's parent. Last thing, constipation in Cuba can be a thing. Maybe it's the rum I don't know. If you forget your medication, try the burger in Bar Monserrate (and I love the place). If you really need to get it sorted out quickly, order the shrimp.
  7. I just had a look at the Air France rates for that time of the year. That made me sad!
  8. Habanos is late this year in announcing dates for next February's festival. Usually there is news out in August. Still nothing public yet for next year. Be careful of Cuba travel/tour websites, they usually put out offers early and, as often as not, get the dates wrong, as some have this year. I was just talking with a Habanos distributor and the dates they have are 24-28 February, 2020. I know, in some parts of the world, it's useful to start booking travel arrangements about now.
  9. It's great. And Diageo have great reach. They already own and distribute Guinness, Smirnoff, Tanqueray, J&B and Johnnie Walker. Some of the most available booze globally. Having said that, Pernod-Ricard are doing a great job with Havana Club. I can remember about 10 years ago, after my father-in-law's funeral, one of my South African brothers-in-law wanted mojitos. We were in Tipperary town and went around every shop and supermarket that sold booze. The only rum we could find was white Bacardi. Having said that, we couldn't find mint either, even at the garden centre! Uncomplicated eaters in Tipperary town. Starting about 5 years ago, basically every bottle shop in Ireland now has Havana Club 3 y/o, 7 y/o and Especial and many have Seleccción de Maestros. If we can get something similar with Santiago. Añejo, 11 and 12 would do for start. Fantastic. I would go to €80 a bottle for Santiago 11 year old here, which I would guess would be about the price.
  10. The Min Ron Nee book, when it was still in shops, about 2006 for about 80 euros.
  11. 2 luches Santy and La Corte del Principe 2 dinners El Del Frente and La Guarida.
  12. No (or at least very few) parents want their kids to be different, that is gay/lesbian, trans etc. Or a whole load of other things, disabled, autistic, bipolar, depressed, anorexic etc. I know I am including a few negative things in there and I don't mean to associate homosexuality with a negative state of being, I don't. But until recently, in most places, it was. And still is in many places. It meant bullying, shame, institutions, therapy, ostracization, celibacy, suicide. Because people were not allowed to be who they are. Possibly a lot of it was and is due to many countries legal codes around social issues being based on religious texts. If you base a legal and/or civic code on one group's religion, it make it easy to criminalize "the other". There was a same-sex marriage referendum here three years ago, to change to constitution to allow same-sex marriage. It passed with a large majority. The pro-same sex marriage groups ran a good campaign. Knowing that the "No" side would use the "what about the children?" debate, that is, what about children of gay couples or should gay couples be allowed to adopt children (they already were here). The pro same-sex side ran with the debate, "What about my gay child? Don't they deserve the same rights as everyone else?". They weren't talking about 3 year olds. They were talking about teenagers and older children. It was very effective and helped swing the vote. And I think that is largely what the debate on gender is. That people who were traditionally thought of as being different, now being allowed to be a part of the "normal". And if the definition of "normal" has to expand, then it must, as it always has. It's very important for parents of these people to know this too. That there is nothing "wrong" with their child. Simply that people are allowed to be who they are. The current difficulties we are having with gender and identification, I don't think will last too long, it is largely a language issue and language evolves much faster than we do. If you think it is bad in English, try Spanish or another language with gender-specific pronouns and adjectives. I was in Spain a few weeks ago and we had a "gender-unspecified" server in a bar. None of us knew or could figure out. I was reduced to "gracias" and "cuatro mas Cubatas por favor" but that person seemed very happy. Finally, I like Renton's (from Trainspotting) fairly simple take on it. "1,000 years from now, there'll be no guys, no girls. Just wankers" His prophecy may be coming true sooner than he thought!
  13. I have US friends regularly asking me about travel to Cuba. I tell them that currently the "Support for the Cuban People" license to travel is still available. They ask what does this mean, what do they have to do. I tell them that staying in a casa particular, eating at privately owned restaurants, and hiring private tour guides/drivers and seeing some events should cover them. I usually give them a contact for casas, a list of about 30 decent places to eat, drink and dance (most of which are privately owned or operated) and some tour guide contacts. My question is, what is currently required for the Support for the Cuban People License? That is, what is a "Full Itinerary"? How many hours per day should be taken up with "Support"? For example, I would guess that buying an issue of "Granma" from a street vendor counts as "Support" but how to prove that? What evidence/receipts should be kept (regardless of whether they are asked for or not), and how long should they be kept for? Has anyone here ever had this conversation with a US agent with responsibility for answering these questions? Thanks for any info.
  14. Then there's these guys, although currently sold out. https://www.shopcoffee.co.uk/product/buy-coffee-beans-online/coffee-green-beans/cuba-serrano-lavado-unroasted-green-coffee-beans/ Edit. On another look, these guys have 63 1kg bags in stock. Be careful to read the payment conditions. https://www.pennineteaandcoffee.co.uk/products/cuba-serrano-superior-aa-arabica-green-coffee-beans-1kg?variant=32184747466

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