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Cuba Libre

That's white rum, Coke and a twist of lime. Keep 'em coming.

Some observations from Havana:

*A distinct Russian presence -- tourists, reporters, vehicles. I have also encountered Italians, Argentines, Brits and Canadians.
*You think a U.S. 2-dollar bill is odd? How about a Cuban 3-peso bill?
*The shop in the hotel lobby offers postcards, maps and books about the CIA.
*The customs declaration slip asks, in English, if you are entering the country with "arms and ammunition", "alive animals", "simples or other articles for commercial", pornography, "satellite communications equipments" or "walkie-talkie". Not that it matters; the forms aren't collected upon arrival.
*Every building, avenue and park seems to be named for Jose Marti, the 19th-century revolutionary.
*The U.S. dollar is no good here, unless used for tipping. Credit cards issued by U.S. banks are not accepted. ATM access with a U.S. bank card? Forget it. The best currency: SOC (Stack of Cash).
*Cuban paella is delicious.
*ESPN has at least 30 people here, including John Harkes. One mojito-infused technician type stumbled onto the elevator late last night counting his dwindling supply of pesos. To welcome the Americans to this hotel, the kitchen staff sculpted a soccer ball made of butter sitting atop a field constructed of broccoli flanked by Cuban and U.S. flags.
*In order to interview Cubans or attend official events, visiting reporters must register at the International Press Center. A credential costs about $70.
*Safety is not a major concern. You can walk carefree through the grittiest parts of downtown, even at night. The presence of police every few blocks helps.
*Cellphones with U.S. carriers do not work. Blackberrys with U.S. carriers do not works. The ESPN folks got a hold of all the Cuban cellphones available for rent at the hotel.
*At a bar in Habana Vieja last night, everyone was gathered around a TV. The program? Venus vs. Serena at the U.S. Open.

By Steve Goff  |  September 4, 2008; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Havana Nights


Repeated from the previous thread:

Goff: Mike Woitalla of Soccer America, who is staying at the Parque Central, reports that there appears to be little interest in Saturday's game among the locals. Do you know how many tickets have been sold?

Posted by: The Jeff | September 4, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I guess Setanta Channel is out of the question in Cuba?

Posted by: JkR | September 4, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"Blackberrys with U.S. carriers do not works."

Are Goff's reports being edited by Cuban censors?

Posted by: G. W. Bush | September 4, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Are the cuban people as obsessed with the dangers of smokebombs as dc united fans are?

Posted by: pigman sweet | September 4, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

When you travel to T&T for that qualifier, you will have to compare the "Cuba Libre" to what is unpretentiously called "Rum and Coke." You many find the dark rum better that that clear stuff for mixing.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 4, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I think they call the same drink - Cuba Libre - "una mentirita" (a little lie)in Miami. Can you ask the Cuban team members if they would rather play for MLS or USL when they defect next month? Still sounds like a good time though.

Posted by: noname | September 4, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse


Best rum in the Caribbean is in Haiti - Barbancourt!

Posted by: noname | September 4, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I think the better question is do any of the Cuban MNT members feel like playing center back on a team that just won the US Open Cup.

Posted by: Section 130 | September 4, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

No Cuba Libre throwing!

Posted by: RK | September 4, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse ball butter.

Posted by: Mrs. Insider | September 4, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

yes you will ENJOY them rum and cokes in T&T

Posted by: greginho | September 4, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I vote for the haitian "Barbabcourt". "Cinc etoiles".

Posted by: pigman sweet | September 4, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Our man in Havana.

Posted by: gringo | September 4, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Club Havana Golden Rum!!!

Posted by: krolpolski | September 4, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"At a bar in Habana Vieja last night, everyone was gathered around a TV. The program? Venus vs. Serena at the U.S. Open."

Why weren't they watching me speak at the Republican Convention???

Posted by: Gov. Palin | September 4, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Keep the culture coming. Really interesting stuff (especially when viewed inside these cubicle walls).

Posted by: Steve | September 4, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.

And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.

Posted by: Jose Marti | September 4, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Yum, I love Cuba Libres. Bet they taste even better when in Cuba. Damn the US govt! I would have loved to go to this game.

Regarding rum, the best rum comes from Guatemala: Ron Zacapa 23 year old and Zaya.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

You know, I truly enjoy WC qualifying. All the trips to different countries, the 70 different qualifying formats used in the different zones, the drawn-out process, rooting for minnows, the inevitable controversies, upsets, and surprises. The actual World Cup tournament is almost always a letdown in comparison.

Posted by: Ash | September 4, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

You CAN get to Cuba. There are dozens of boats fill with Americans fleeing from Florida every day. I read about it in The Nation.

Thanks for the update, Steve. Great insight -- and the stuff about the CIA items cracks me up!

Posted by: Joe Doc | September 4, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

How is Coke able to be sold/consumed when there is trade embargo? The "man" goes through all this trouble to ban us from going there and yet you are there enjoying Cuba Libre. Are food products the exception?

Posted by: Charisma_Man | September 4, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Gov. Palin -
"Why weren't they watching me speak at the Republican Convention???"

Because Cubans get enough propaganda with their own gov't. They don't need any from Karl Rove's gov't.

Posted by: Eric from Tucson | September 4, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Fact: Coca Cola is produced and bottled outside the US.

Theory: So Cuba could import it from, say, Jamaica. I don't think Atlanta HQ would care.

Wild Speculation: Maybe Coke was even grandfathered in as an un-embargoed medical and humanitarian supply.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 4, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

the key to a cuba libre is that little splash of lime juice.

and since we're throwing out random rums. ill go with nicaragua and the flor de cana centenario.

interesting side note: cuban cigars can be purchased extremely cheap there (like $1 a cohiba)

Posted by: pindar | September 4, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse


Have you seen many normal Cubans with cellphones or using Internet accessible computers? When Raul made owning either of these legal a few months back there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for future opening...

But what's your take on the ground?

Posted by: JustinOaktown | September 4, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

""Gov. Palin -
"Why weren't they watching me speak at the Republican Convention???"""

Because there's enough caca in Havana already.

Posted by: Fuera Republicana | September 4, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse


They make any beer in Cuba? Central America's got some decent pilsener's---El Presidente, Belikin, Imperial . .

But Cuba? Too much sugarcane and good rum . .

Posted by: delantero | September 4, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the observations about La Habana, I find it fascinating.

Posted by: Felix | September 4, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

They hate us for our broccoli.

Posted by: AM | September 4, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Kasper said there will a be a surprise player announce next week that they picked up before the window closed...
He said,"young international player".
Off topic a bit but what's the word in speculation world?
Saw this on WA Post live of course.

Posted by: dadryan | September 4, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Belikin is best in the stout form... and I believe One Barrel is the cheap (but still good) rum of choice in Belize.

Posted by: Skyler | September 4, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

dadyran -- are you teasing us?

Tenorio -- please get on this... Of course, we could wait and see if anything materializes, but half the fun is in the rumor mill...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 4, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Skylar, a Belikin is not rum. It is the National beer of belize. And you better Belizeit.

Goff, make sure you tip well in cuba. and dollars are very useful there in the black market.

Posted by: Bob | September 4, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Barbancourt 5 stars with Cuba libre.

Simply the best

Posted by: MD transplant in TX | September 4, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

dadryan is not teasing. It was on the second segment of WPL this evening.

Posted by: sitruc | September 4, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks as always for the color commentary on the local scene. It is a credit to your paper's management that they give you the opportunity to take in and write about the setting and overall experience. It is a much more interesting read than a typical game report, i.e. "and then in the 60th minute, so-and-so passed the ball..."

Posted by: Matt in SF | September 4, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Close. The Coca Cola in Cuba is imported from Mexico.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Any websites carrying the USA game?

Posted by: Atl | September 4, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's a guess out of left field: I think DCU might have been impressed with Osvaldo Alonso last night -- the former Cuban national team player. Perhaps they found a mutual interest...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 4, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Goff, Paul: Who is this young international player? Where is he from? Is he a classic number 9 striker or a winger? When will he be introduced? Is he someone that I can buy a shirt? Any hint? Any clue?

Posted by: arlington4united | September 4, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

what a desaster start for EPL!!! It's only been a week already two managers gone.

Posted by: td | September 4, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I have tried the cuban rums, as well as the top rums from Jamaica, Haiti and Barbados.

None of you will believe this until you try it, but the best rum in the world, hands down, is made by Dogfish Head in Delaware. It's the honey brown rum. You won't believe it. Sip over rocks, nothing else.

Yeah baby!

Posted by: David | September 4, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

@young international.
anyone see wpl today?
a clip of payne would be helpful.
but is this "kid" signed or in negotiations?

Posted by: Spartan | September 4, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Stevie O!

You have got to get to a live Jazz Club, como Arturo Sandoval . . if they are still exist in Havana . . can't attest to the quality of the music, but after a few Cuba Libres (con Fidel)!! who cares . . .

Leave the Hotel, think Bourdain, not Rachel Ray.

Posted by: delantero | September 4, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

C. Gomez lovers, he is still sitting on the bench.
K. Martino got a job with bspn.

Posted by: td | September 4, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

You're writing has taken on quite a prose. You sure you aren't "mojito infused"?

Posted by: Mountaineer Pride | September 4, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse


Great stuff. Please keep the updates coming, as many of us are fascinated with Cuba.

Posted by: Nick | September 4, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

sorry to leave you hanging, but as you may have heard or seen or maybe it's on again at 11, it wasn't payne it was kasper da GM.
He said as I recall,"next week, young international, before the transfer window closed".
They showed off the trophy and showed some nice clips of the game.
I'm always torn on quiet side/loud side... Maybe the players aren't motivated by the bounce, noise, tifo, but it sure gives me a boner.
CHEECH AND CHONG: Generally saving the bonghits for at home, but hit bowls in the concourse REGULARLY;-)

Posted by: dadryan | September 4, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

again, it sounded by Kasper's account that it is a done deal and the announcement will come next week.
Sup with Petke getting the gwg, unless something changes for the Rapids?

Posted by: dadryan | September 4, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Cristal- with a name like that it has to be good....

Posted by: castro | September 4, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Cristal Beer- with a name like that it has to be good....

Posted by: castro | September 4, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but me thinks dem pirates can't make beer. That's a task better left to the Irish and German . . .

Bucanero Fuerte, a beer for the distinguished drinker!

Bucanero Fuerte is made from the most natural and freshest ingredients, with superior malt and blended with just a touch of Cuba`s finest sugars.

Named after old legends of the Caribbean pirates, this hidden treasure is truly one of Cuba`s best-kept secrets

Posted by: delantero | September 4, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Goff your descriptions of Havan make me wanna take a trip there asap! especially how it's fairly safe to walk the streets at night, better than you can say for Lima, even the nice parts!

Posted by: PedroUnited | September 5, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

so on the Young International rumor tip, I read on the boards that it could more than likely be 24 yo Honduran MF Carlos Will Meija who has played with Olimpia, Motagua, Real España y Marathón.

Posted by: PedroUnited | September 5, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Leave the Hotel, think Bourdain, not Rachel Ray.

Posted by: delantero | September 4, 2008 9:21 PM

Damn straight! I'd like to see Rachel Ray try the roasted iguana in Mexico.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 5, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

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