NAME THAT COUNTRY

From the late 18th to the late 19th century, the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) was a center of sugar production in our mystery country. At the peak of the industry, over fifty cane sugar mills were in operation, with over 30,000 slaves working in the mills and the sugar cane plantations that surrounded them.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY

This is Baracoa Bay, with the flat top El Yunque mountain in the background.
Christopher Columbus landed at Baracoa in 1492 and in 1511 the settlement there became the first Spanish capital of our mystery country. Baracoa is on the eastern tip of the country’s north coast. Surrounded by mountains, it’s very remote and was accessible only by sea until a road was built through the mountains in the 1960s.
The nearby Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 122

These little yellow pods are affectionately known as Coco Taxis because of their resemblance to coconuts. They compete for tourist business with classic American cars, which famously grace the island roads of our mystery country. Essentially, the Coco Taxi is a motorized rickshaw, with 3 wheels and room for a driver and two passengers. If you don’t mind squeezing, a Coco Taxi will get you where you’re going for less money than a “Yank Tank.”

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 94

In the capital city of our mystery country, the Malecon seawall and waterfront boulevard is a popular gathering place, especially for young lovers watching the sun drop into the Gulf of Mexico. The Malecon stretches for 5 miles around the heart of the city and is lined with elegant, dilapidated villas.

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NAME THAT COUNTRY Episode 85

El Floridita has been serving drinks (especially rum cocktails) and seafood for almost 200 years in the capital city of our mystery country. It’s well known as the birthplace of the daiquiri and as a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, who lived just a few blocks away at the Hotel Ambos Mundos for seven years. Hemingway was just one of a long list of artists, intellectuals and dignitaries who spent time at El Floridita in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, when the city was a hopping playground for the international jet set.

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Convento de Belen, Havana, Cuba

Iglesia y Convento Nuestra Senora de Belen (Church and Convent of Our Lady of Bethlehem), Convento de Belen for short, is a renowned social services organization in  Havana, Cuba, which focuses on senior care. The center is operated by the Order of the Sisters of Charity, with help from the Office of the City Historian and public health agencies.

Some fifty senior citizens are permanent residents and dozens more come daily for activities, meals and medical care. Convento de Belen also provides services for mentally and physically disabled children and operates a daycare center for young children.

Most Ya’lla trips to Cuba include a stop at Convento de Belen, where visitors leave donated goods brought from home, as well as cash gifts. We’re always lovingly received by residents, often with a song and gifts of handmade cards and handicrafts.

Click to see Cuba tours that include visits to Convento de Belen.