Friday, March 26, 2010

CUBA: OUTSIDE VARADERO



My first novel, the Phoenix Lottery, uses lots of other references to Varadero, besides the duPont mansion featured in the last two posts. Above is the lobby of the Melia Varadero. (Go back two posts to see the duPont mansion in the distance with a bunch of beach in the foreground. That shot was taken twenty years ago from the spot where this hotel would be built.)



Above is Playa Corales, where I snorkelled for the first time -- a bare-bones beach about a twenty minute taxi or moped outside the town. Corals come right up to the shore and then out about a hundred yards and extend for two miles. A round trip is about $20 by cab, or as I mentioned, you can moped. (Roads a little dicey.) There's a guy who'll look after your stuff for a dollar, like a hat check only for belongings, and you can absolutely trust him to make sure your stuff stays safe. If you go by cab, tell the driver how many hours you'll be there and he'll come back to pick you up on time. You can get roast chicken or lobster at a little outdoor grill. Heaven.

And these are twenty-year-old shots with a very old film camera inside the Caves of Bellamar, outside Matanzas, the capital of Matanzas province.

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The story is that the caves were discovered by a Chinese worker in the 1800s when they were building a railroad here. Apparently, he dropped an implement that accidentally fell through a hole in the rocks.



The caves are vast and go all the way out the to the ocean. Some places can make you claustrophobic, but the entrance is vast, deep and majestic. Imagine this as where the Phantom of the Opera would like to hide out.



So... next time, off to the eastern end of the island and my introduction to santería.

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