|The Bar at Habana 162|
|Melissa brunching with us in San Salvador.|
|The ladies dancing at the Katrina (formerly Don Qiote on Paseo del Carmen)|
Anyways, she found me through this blog which makes her the second very interesting globe trotter that I have met through this site. The other is Mark who is currently heading from Nairobi to Mombasa by second class train.
|A coffee shop built into a VW Combee on Paseo del Carmen|
|I am sure she was laughing all meal, watching this kid pee on me.|
|Yes, the beautiful Niagara Falls and Stefan, both behind me!|
|At Stacks and I think Rene was willing more food to appear.|
|The chef owner of Fritomania. A man who revels in perfecting and doing one thing very very well.|
|Claudio holding court at his old stomping (literally) grounds with Stefan, Rob and Tracey.|
|Thank you Chris for introducing me to this beauty. Well, maybe not a beauty, it looks like a dog's breakfast but it was delicious!|
|Officer, I did not transport this beer over provincial lines.|
|My son Elliot was coincidentally in town and we met, of course, at a beer festival.|
|Stefan holding the boat.|
|Maria Jose trying to make friends with the boat.|
|Crystal finally meeting the boat.|
|Thumbs up to authentic curries!|
|O mestre de picanha!|
|Rare picanha with farofa and kimchi.|
And I met the lovely and charming Linda Houle in Bogota and she was game enough to take the Transmillenium down to Restrepo for some leather shopping and lunch. And we ended up ... of course at a Bogota Brewing Company pub.
I was visiting my good friend of many years, Karin, who I first met in Havana 20 years ago. Linda was visiting Jennifer who is at the Embassy and lived around the corner. We all made it to one of those private restaurants with no signs that had a Mexican tasting menu with some great interesting innovative foods.
|Eating fancy Mexican in Candelaria.|
|Natalia and me in la Colombe drinking our own wine.|
|At the Majestique with David at the bar.|
|Maria Jose with a shop full of latinos.|
|Linda and me posing with our sandwiches.|
So we all met up again for lunch the next day for some amazing smoked meat sandwiches (extra fatty again for me), fries and two kinds of dill pickles.
|The ladies with their sammies.|
Wrapping up my trips to Owen Sound, I spent a few days helping put up this gorgeous cedar fence with Darren of https://www.facebook.com/elkwoodlivingspaces/
|Daniela showing off her skills.|
It amounted to cutting boards, sanding and staining them, then hanging and nailing. We also drilled fence posts with a crazy gas powered auger, mixed concrete and set posts. It was, by far, the most tiring job I have done in 30 years. I actually had to go into the kitchen mid-morning to eat some food to fuel my body since I had no energy whatsover. It was a great experience and makes me appreciate my desk job, pecking away at a keyboard and moving paper from the printer into file folders.
|The fence a third of the way finished.|
|Jeff wearing Fatima's hat against the harsh summer sun.|
Her house is in a good place in Vedado, high above the hill and well away from any flooding or storm surge and close to hospitals so on a high priority electrical grid. Initially, Irma was supposed to head north to Miami well before coming close to Havana. I planned on being without power for 24 hours and planned accordingly - made sure the cisterns will full of water, had a few packages of pasta and 24 beers on ice in a cooler. That may sound a bit nonchalant but I have been through 4 major hurricanes and what you need to do is stay inside when it hits and then you have to bear through the aftermath of between one and five days without power. Hence easy to cook food and cold beer. Sitting in a tropical country after a hurricane with no power (which means no fans or air conditioning), being hot and a bit stressed out, nothing is better than an ice cold beer.
We lost power the day before Irma hit. I think the blowing winds knocked a tree branch that took down a cable. Amazing, the electrical company was by in the morning to fix the line. It was amazing as I thought all the crews had headed to the interior of the island where the storm was expected to hit hard. Then around 6:00 pm, the company shut down power to the whole city to protect the grid from the storm. Instead of sweeping north, Irma kept creeping west towards us so she gave us a good grazing before finally making the turn to Florida. The tree in front of Delia’s house was badly damaged when some idiot thought it would be funny to torch it. The branches were well weakend and Delia had made several requests to the city to cut the branches down before they fell down. The city said they had to get the electrical company involved to shut down the high voltage lines so it never got done.
Of course Irma knocked all the branches down and the biggest one was laying right on top of the cables. This being Cuba, a bunch of neighbours came by with step ladders and machetes and hacked at the branch, laying on top of a high voltage cable, and finally pushed it off.
|Before, not looking great.|
|After, looking just terrible.|
|Santiago, Jose, Maria and Delia playing dominoes. Again.|
|Sharing our power, cold beer and food.|
|Yes, how you deliver cinder blocks in Cuba.|
|Edgardo about to enjoy his first Pizza Bella Ciao|
|Elena on a work trip from Miami!|
|Korean homies from Toronto enjoying Maracuya daquiries at Chacon 162|
Celebrated a rare birthday in Havana. Knowing it would be challenging, I invited my friends to Tien Tan in Miramar to have their Mongolian Hot Pot. On a hot night. With no a/c or fans. And yes, it was very hot but I very much appreciated Matt lying to my face and saying it was a delicious dinner instead of saying that it was one of the worst meals he has had in Havana.
|Birthday dinner with the offending Mongolia hot pot front and centre.|
|Bill and Susan in front of the Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso|
|One of many cruise ships visiting Havana|
|Ian and me enjoying a $10 sandwich|
Looking back over 2017 with all the great meals and the 50 flights to ten different countries, the thing that makes me happiest was connecting with friends from different countries, often meeting in different places. To see someone you are fond of in one country with its distinct climate, culture and vibe and then seeing them somewhere else is a great and interesting thing. Hope to see lots more friends in lots more places in 2018.
|A wise pint glass at the Irish Pub in Usaquen.|