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Archives for February 2011

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[Home = Jamaica] Where My Heart Is

Until I purchased my apartment several years ago, home, for me, meant the place where I grew up in Jamaica; the place I go to relax and recharge when life in the U.S. takes its toll, the place where my heart really is.

Then, it became “home, home” to differentiate it from my “home” – the place I owned.

When I go “home, home” I revert to the person I was when I lived there, except now, I’m the adult. I have the freedom to do whatever, go where ever.

So I explore. I explore the place and I explore the me I am when I’m there. The me that feels free – to engage, to push back, to confront, to love, to be passionate, to be playful. It’s the me that sometimes comes to the fore when I’m in the States but takes so much more energy to be.

And simple things, like drinking the juice or water of a freshly picked coconut, make me smile.

Getting the coconut

Getting it ready

You really have to know what you’re doing

It’s all in the wrist

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And the Oscar Goes to New York City!

For the location (outside of Los Angeles) with largest number of shooting days, tonight, the Oscar

should go to New York City.

It’s about time that New York is recognized as a major player in the movie making business. After all, we New Yorkers have to put up with actors and celebrities who call New York home and movie trailers that clog our streets so we can’t park our cars on about 30,000 location days every year.

New York City has acted as the backdrop for movies such as The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), Eat Pray Love (2010), Sex and the City (2008), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Inside Man (2006), The Interpreter (2005) and scores more.

And according to the Mayor’s Office of Film and Television, the following films are currently in production in the city:

  • Another Night
  • Black Parables
  • Don Peyote
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Goat
  • I Don’t Know How She Does It
  • A Late Quartet
  • Men in Black 3
  • Paradox
  • Shame
  • Untitled David Chase Project
  • Welcome to Harlem

Yes, it’s definitely time for Oscar to recognize New York City for all she does to make his movies real.

Let me know if you agree.

Random Havana Photos

Yes, I have still more photos. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I took nearly 400 photos in just a week walking around Havana. There was that much to see.

Hotel Inglaterra, Havana

Hotel Inglaterra

Hotel Inglaterra from Parque Central

Hotel Inglaterra, seen from Havana’s Central Park


Havana Taxi

Getting around

Coco Taxis

Havana’s Coco taxis an eye catching jolt of color that can’t be ignored.

Monument to Jose Marti in Plaza de la Revolucion

Spanish tiles from the restaurant at the Hotel Ambos Mundos

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi outside the Convento de San Francisco in Old Havana

Ladies in the courtyard outside the Convento

Old Havana Street

Mural in Old Havana

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Havana, And My Mojitos Sucked!

I love a good cocktail, especially one with a rum base.

So when I knew I was going to Havana, I was as excited about going as I was about all the rummy cocktails I knew I’d get to drink.

Cuba is, after all, rum country. It’s also home of the mojito, the daiquiri and the Cuba Libre – all made with rum and lime juice, my other favorite ingredient.

But it was the mojito, the perfect refreshing antidote to hot days, that looked forward to downing.

Unfortunately, my first Havana mojito sucked!

And it wasn’t just that it needed more sugar. We tried that and it still tasted ‘off.’

So did the next one at the second bar.

The mojitos I’ve had in New York and elsewhere – the taste I’ve come to love – are a delicate balance between rum, sugar, mint, lime juice and ice. Even allowing for slight variations in the taste of the ingredients and the quantity of each that was used, I couldn’t explain the big difference in taste between Havana’s mojitos and New York’s.

I was disappointed.

I just knew the mojitos in Havana would have been good, so good, I’d be drinking them instead of water. And I knew I’d be raving about them when I returned home. I just knew!

Instead, I found myself doing what I do when I’m out and can’t find my favorite brand of spirits, I revert to something that’s foolproof: in this case, rum and coke.

(Yes, even though Cuba has its own brand of cola, this American import is available, especially in tourist areas.)

Now, there’s really nothing wrong with my backup drink: rum and Coke or the rum, Coke and lime mix called Cuba Libre. But since my taste buds had been primed for weeks in anticipation of the mojito, it felt like a poor substitute.

Several days later, while we were having lunch in a hotel restaurant, I noticed something that to me explained why the mojitos tasted so different.

There, on the bar, were rows of glasses. Each had sugar, lime wedges and several sprigs of mint leaves. How long had they been sitting there, waiting?

Could this slow marinating of these two ingredients account for the difference in taste?

Even from where I sat, I could see that the mint leaves had wilted to a deep green and a brownish yellow was slowly overtaking the vibrant green of the wedges of lime.

I watched as a waiter walked over, picked up a glass, added rum and ice, muddled the ingredients and served it to a diner.

I’m not a purist. Neither am I one of those people who thinks food has to taste the same everywhere, you know, like McDonald’s?

Glasses with Mint

But you cannot convince me that that wasn’t the reason for the difference.

Tell me if you agree.