Handbags, Books...Whatever

Handbags, Books...Whatever (http://www.vickibatman.blogspot.com) is the website of Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction. Handbag lover. Avid Jazzerciser. Mah jong player. Yoga practioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Choc-aholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Travel and Book with Vinnie Hansen #Cubatravel #mystery #noStarbucks

Travel and Book with
Vinnie Hansen

For those who like all the creature comforts of home, Cuba may not be for you. The long-standing embargo has created many shortages, compensated for by great resourcefulness. Cuba is a country for those who like destinations precisely because they don’t have a Starbuck’s on every corner. That would be my husband and me.  

My husband and I enjoy cultures that are different than ours. However, we don’t necessarily relish the arduous process of getting there. Cuba beckoned us—a non-stop flight to Cancun and then a simple hour hop to Havana. Fairly simple travel to be in one of only two places in the world without Coca-Cola.

When we ventured to Cuba in 2010, there was one hitch—it was illegal. Cuba had no restriction against us entering the country (although the government keeps close tabs on where one stays). Reentry to the United States was the sticking point as it is against the law to lie to a Customs Official about one’s travel. Fortunately, when we returned—Danny sporting his new Cancun cap—no one asked us where we’d been.

The two of us traveled in Cuba for a month, staying in casas particulares, private homes that rent out rooms and provide breakfast.

If visiting Cuba appeals to you, now is the time. As I write, a small window remains before President Trump’s new restrictions go into effect.


The island provides the backdrop for Black Beans & Venom, the seventh book in my Carol Sabala Mystery Series.

November, 2001 

I liked J.J. Sloan better as a practicing alcoholic. At least then, I knew where to find him, right down to which stool he would occupy. Now that he had renewed his commitments to running and recovery, he was not only less reachable, but also more insufferable, which I had not thought possible.

 “That’s the glory of cross-country running,” he crowed, as he stood in the office, dipping one knee and then the other to stretch his Achilles tendons. “Your legs can take you anywhere.” He pronounced this as though he were Neil Armstrong, taking the first step on the moon on behalf of all mankind. Next he stretched his hamstrings by bending at the waist and reaching for his shins. He had good legs, I would give him that, but they could not compensate for the crooked nose and acne-scarred skin.

“File that pile, Carol.” Without further ado, he trotted to the door and down the hallway.

I fumed in our windowless office. Even though J.J. had taken me on as a favor to my boyfriend David and had invested hundreds of hours training me to be a private investigator, it felt insulting to have him continue to treat me like a peon. Yet Sloan’s Investigative Services was his business, if you could call it that. The office existed as a place to receive messages and to burn coffee.

Find Black Beans & Venom at: Amazon

Find Vinnie at: Vinnie Hansen
Hi, Vinnie! So nice to read about your trip. What was your favorite sweet treat you ate there?





Angela Adams said...

Vinnie, as I was reading your post, I thought, "Gee, this would make a great backdrop for a novel." (smile) Your book sounds intriguing.

Liese said...

Ooooo. I've always wanted to go to Cuba. As you note: it was quite easy and cheap to travel there when I lived in Mexico. Only problem was, I worked for the US government and would have lost my security clearance if I went. So, never got to go, and it looks like it won't happen again.

I'll have to settle for Cuban culture in Miami!

Great excerpt!

Melissa Keir said...

Fun post. I've always been interested in different places but I'm a homebody who doesn't really travel so I have to do it in a book. Loved the excerpt! All the best!

Vinnie Hansen said...

Vicki, thank you for hosting me! Drat this Pacific Time. I'm always late to the party. Angela, Liese and Melissa, thanks for dropping by. You can definitely vicariously visit Cuba through the books. :)

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction, blogger at Handbags, Books...Whatever said...

So loverly to have you, Vinnie! My sister went to Cuba not long after it opened and was wowed. Most people who visit want to see it before chain stores take over. Can't blame them.

Loretta said...

Vinnie, what an interesting post :) And yes, I've always been interested in Cuba...Lucy and Ricky Ricardo piqued my interest in the country many moon's ago! Your insight is a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of the culture, and your book sounds delightful. I enjoyed the excerpt you shared. Lo

K.B. Owen said...

Vinnie, I always enjoy your voice in your books! Cuba sounds like a great place to set a mystery. And to be able to spend an entire month on location...that's terrific!

Kassandra Lamb said...

Cuba is on my bucket list partly because of your book, Vinnie. I loved Black Beans and Venom!

Vinnie Hansen said...

Loretta, I hope you seize the opportunity to visit the country. I couldn't begin to capture the allure in this short post--the music on street corners, the Santeria influence, the red mogates (cliff-like structures that draw climbers) down by Vinales . . . .

Vinnie Hansen said...

K.B. and Kassandra, thanks for dropping by. I hope you do go, Kass. For you it's just a skip and a jump.

Kirsten Weiss said...

I've read the book, and it really brings Cuba to life!

Vinnie Hansen said...

I just noticed that question about favorite sweet treat in Cuba. When we were in Trinidad, a man was selling ice cream cones through the window of his house. That was The Best! We also encountered one tiny hole-in-the-wall in Havana selling ice cream sandwiches. Delicious. Remember there are no chains here, so everything like this is going to be made in small batches and probably locally. Other than those two places, I don't think we saw any place that sold ice cream. Another treat was a cafe in Havana specializing in chocolates and hot chocolate. But seriously, Cuba is not the place for someone who seeking great treats.

Gilian Baker said...

Wow! You are SO brave! A month in Cuba when you might not get back into the U.S. I'm just not that adventurous! But I admire your grit! Can't wait to read the book! It's awaiting me on my ipad. :)

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction, blogger at Handbags, Books...Whatever said...

Hi, Vinnie! I think you found great sweet treats. I love traveling and finding spots like these.

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Hi Vinnie, So adventurous! My parents and brothers have raved about their trips to Cuba, but I simply listen and think of "safer" destinations--southern U.S. and other islands in the Caribbean. BTW...Your book sounds intriguing!

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