Recently, Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations Required” ®™ ventured off to Cuba. It all looked so enticing that I imagined myself there, too.

A first stop would definitely be Varadero Beach, located southeast of Havana, Cuba. Not expecting to find such a vast paradise on a small Caribbean island, there are no words to describe the ocean and the tropics.

I would go to Cuba primarily for humanitarian purposes (in order bring clothes and toiletries to people in need). The streets and great people of Havana would greet me with warmth (a steady 92 degrees every summer day) and a welcoming smile. My passion for history would transport me back to the 19th century. Enveloped by the intriguing Spanish architecture, I would wonder, “What cultural treasure will I uncover inside that building or around that corner?”

To begin with, I could find myself underneath a portico or loggia, seated at a cafe-bar flanked by a cathedral and the main plaza. Cuba has a history of great coffee made with the finest beans (in decades past, it was home to large coffee and sugar plantations).

Eventually, I’d find the Museum of Cuban Art (Museo de Bellas Artes), where my coffee habit leads me straight to this object. From afar, I’d ask myself, “Is that work of art made of …


… Italian/Spanish coffeepots? Well, I’ll be darned – it sure is!”

By now, I’m working up an appetite and am desperate to find some typical Cuban fare:

Do I feel like Shrimp with Salsa Cubana (also known as Camarones Enchilados) or

Roasted Lamb with Rice & Black Beans?

In this Garden of Eden, some of the best food items would be sweet fruit such as these ripe guavas.

Of course, I’d feast my eyes and my palate on a fabulous Cuban dessert such as this delicious coconut tart.

It would take only one sip of the best mojito in the world to extinguish all dieting thoughts forever. Only in Cuba, these rum coolers are made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and … Hey, that glass is … is about to slide off …. Wait, is this refreshing, minty mojito and everything else here just a fantasy?

Text & Photographs © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real