dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, February 13, 2017

Horses in Cuba and Other Random Facts

We are currently in the middle of major blizzard. It's a bad one and showing no signs of stopping. The horses are snug in the barn and I thought that this was a good time to spend going through my photos from Cuba.

Cuba is a beautiful country and the people are open and friendly. I felt completely safe walking on my own on the beach every morning or back to my room in the evening. Before travelling there I knew very little about this small island nation but I learned some tings there and have been learning more since I returned. I am sure that there are some negative things about the politics of Cuba and it is not perfect by any means. But there are things to admire about this nation that seems to have truly put taking care of it's people first:

  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (about 99%). All Cubans must finish to Grade 9. University is free but you need to have the grades to go. There are over 40 universities for a population of 11.5 million. 
  • Medical care is free. There is one doctor for every 150 people and medical professionals are one of the largest exports. Medication is paid for but it is on a sliding scale- so the less you make the less you pay. And before you leap to the conclusion that the care would be sub-par the life expectancy is 79 years which is slightly higher than the U.S. and slightly lower than Canada (Monaco has the highest at 89 years)
  • Homelessness is virtually unheard of. Between government subsidies and the cuban culture there is always somewhere to live. It may be small and crowded but it's not the street. 


Transportation is a big issue in Cuba and people get around in all kinds of ways. Government vehicles are legally required to pick up hitchhikers if they have room. On the bus ride to the hotel we saw all sorts of ways people were travelling: walking, bicycles, back of pick up trucks


Horses are key part of the transportation system. We saw lots of wagons and horses being ridden. 


There horses tied up and grazing along the side of the road and some free around the resort


I saw a few thin ones and none I saw were great conformationally but all seemed sound and, frankly, as healthy as the people. I was talking to one driver and I asked about the tails because they all seemed to be very short- they are trimmed because behind the horse is a 'manure catcher' so that the streets are not dirtied. It was an interesting idea. 

Cynthia and I went riding one day and the horses were narrowly built but very agile climbing up the mountain. Mine was named 'Lucera' and he was quite forward and sweet. Our guide was named Louis and he was a civil engineer turned tour guide:
Many of the people working in the hotels and tourism industry have at least one degree. The money is  better. Louis and I were talking and he loves the outside and being in the country as much as I do. We compared horse keeping and were both fascinated by the differences. Of course hay is unheard of there - horses are let out to forage. I explained how horses love the snow and he was shocked.  

We went up a mountain side through a series of switchbacks but I never felt nervous and  the view was totally worth it:

While we were waiting for our bus to pick us up and take us back to the hotel Cynthia and were chatting about how safe Cuba was for women. Louis looked surprised that that would even be a concern. He looked at us and frowned 
"But women, they are a treasure. We must protect them. They are a gift."

It sounds smarmy but he was 100% genuine- I am not a swooner but I swooned a bit at that moment. 

If you have a chance to go to Cuba take it. It's a jewel. 


30 comments:

  1. Sounds awesome! We have always wanted to go there we have a few neighbors that go every year and it sounds so great, maybe one day we will go.

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    1. I was never sure - this was my first time going and I really want to go back.

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  2. I wish our flights from the west coast were a little friendlier - it's just so much easier to go to the Baja and we're lazy like that. Still, Cuba is on the list for 2018, the turquoise oceans are calling us again :) Glad you had a wonderful time!

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    1. That makes sense- I'd love to go to Baja but not sure that I'll get there.

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  3. What a great entry on a cold day. I learned a lot and loved the photos.

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  4. Thanks for this.

    I don't often ride with my camera so I'll describe the horse barrier to you instead. It's a wooden fence that goes from the left to a little beyond the center of the trail. About a meter beyond it is another wooden fence that goes from the right to a little beyond the center of the trail. Also there's fencing on either side of the barricade so you can't bypass it. A person can go through by making a little serpentine, but horses cannot make that tight turn. But Arabs often can: )

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    1. Ah that makes sense. There were people from Germany at our resort too.

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  5. what an incredible trip! obviously my options for traveling to cuba have been limited over my lifetime bc of us-related political issues.... but my step sister went a couple years ago with her college and loved it. glad you had a good time too!!

    also i like the new banner :)

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    1. Thanks! I understand that it's difficult for U.S. citizens.

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  6. Sounds like an absolutely fabulous experience!!!

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  7. Definitely a swoon-worthy comment. It was interesting to get your take on Cuba. Here we get limited information and little of it is positive.

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    1. Yes- I understand the difficulties - it's interesting to see how the Cubans applied Communism- they really do seem to share.

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  8. Aw! I'm swooning too. My husband needs to read that last bit. I am a treasure, damn it! lol :)

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  9. Sounds and looks like a great trip. Love the view of the water.
    Also like Louis' comment. It sounds genuine and a nice thought on how to treat women. Wish it was the same here.

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    1. It was a great trip. I too wish it was the same here as well. But we'll keep fighting.

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  10. I loved Cuba so much! I haven't been for years (I think I was there about 7 years ago). Sounds like you had a great trip!

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    1. It was just what I needed - fun and relaxing

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  11. Sara @ Roaming RiderFebruary 13, 2017 at 11:34 PM

    I love reading about experiences in other countries. Thank you for writing it up.

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  12. Sounds great! We have for a long while been itching to go there we have a couple neighbors that go each year and it sounds so incredible, perhaps one day we will go...

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  13. Wow that sounds fantastic! I didn't realize Cuba was like this, I may put it on my list of go-to if the US ever gets it's political stuff straightened out for good.

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    1. Cuba is beautiful -it's not like other resorts and some may not like how the rooms are not fancy. That said it was the cleanest room I've ever stayed in. I even saw the cleaning lady washing the doors!

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  14. Cuba and Puerto Rico are considered sister islands. :) There is a reason why the flags are the same, but with reversed colors. The initial histories are almost exactly the same right down to fighting together against Spain for their autonomy; our flag was a deliberate copy of Cuba's. https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-the-Puerto-Rican-and-Cuban-flags And then their histories split into two very different stories when PR was taken over by the US in 1898.

    Thank you for this! Cuba is on our bucket list if it ever becomes safe again to leave the US and be able to return to it. I'll have to write a post about horsekeeping in PR, as it is very similar to what you saw in Cuba. My island grows its own hay, but it's the same quality as coastal in the US South. We had the advantage of being able to import timothy and alfalfa, but it cost an arm and a leg.

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