Blogging fearlessly from Havana. How?!

One of my favorite country blogs of all time is that of Yoani Sanchez, the 32 year old blogging secretly from Havana. To write on her blog, she has to pretend to be a tourist and go to a hotel to access the Internet.

Of the 11 million people who live on the island, only about 200,000 have open access to the web — they are mainly government employees, researchers and academics, to whom the government has given permission. The rest of the Cubans can access email and a few Cuban sites from certain public spots (for example the post office), but everything else is blocked.

I first found out about Yoani on the IHT last year, and have been reading her ever since. She reports beautifully (both in Spanish and English) on happenings in Cuba — she is probably one of the only authentic sources of information coming out of the island without censorship, and she always sounds fearless.

A couple of weeks ago she was chosen by Madrid’s El Pais newspaper to get the Ortega y Gasset Journalism Prize, but she was not allowed to leave Cuba to receive her award in Spain. To add to this, I read that she made the Time Top 100 list of influential people, which is phenomenal and much deserved.

But, what I fail to understand is that, with all the international exposure she has been getting — certainly magnified by being featured in Time Magazine alongside the likes of Obama, Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey — how on earth is she still getting away with her secret blogging? Does the Cuban government have any idea? She must really disguise herself well, and her German must be flawless to be able to get away with this for almost a year. Surely authorities must know — why aren’t they stopping her?

I don’t wish they catch her, I just don’t see how in such a tight regime she has been getting away with this for so long. It almost makes it questionable, no?

Secret WWII Nuclear City Now Open to Tourists

A uranium plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., was once a secret guarded so fervently that the plant didn’t have an address, nor did it appear on any maps. But it’s a secret no more — in fact, it’s a tourist attraction. Parts of the plant are now open for visitors to explore on a 2.5-hour guided tour. But there’s a catch — the visitors must be American citizens.

The Oak Ridge facility is the site of the world’s first fully-operational nuclear reactor, and oversaw the separation of uranium 235 from natural uranium. It was also a key part of the project that instrumented the dropping of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima. The lives of those who lived and worked in Oak Ridge were closely intertwined with this secretive operation, so closely guarded that the word uranium was rarely used — tuballoy was a common stand-in.

To find out more about the secret city of Oak Ridge, check out this article from Reuters.

The World’s Sexiest Cities (That Are Still Secret … Shhh)

I’m going to try to sneak this post in right here, real nonchalant-like. Why? Because the details are still secret.

MSN recently put together a list of the sexiest “secret” cities around. Apparently, they compiled the list so that you could “get a head start on your fellow travellers.” Cool, huh? And thoughtful? By the way, by “sexy” they mean bursting with culture — not filled with strip clubs. Anyway, the cities are:

Yeah, I know: Scottsdale. Whatever. The other seven sound pretty sexy, though.

Feel free to share this tip with your friends — but only the sexy ones. We’re trying to keep this a secret for as long as we can. We don’t want these sexy treasures filling up with the non-sexy. Eww.

Other sexiness: