Regarding Birmingham, Ala. ["Moving Ever Forward," by Alice Short, April 14]: How can she not include Dreamland, a legendary Alabama barbecue? Chris Erskine would have mentioned this pork palace in his opening paragraph! Otherwise, a very fine article on this historic city.
Regarding "Cuba Covertly? Weigh the Risks," by Catharine Hamm [On the Spot, March 31]: Cuba is not a "fabulous destination." I don't understand this thinking. Cuba is lost in time. Although the hotels and buildings from the '50s are considered glamorous, as are the cigars and mojitos, Cuba is a big mess. I went in 2008, with a license, to see the family. I stayed at the Hotel Nacional; it's five-star.
There were roaches, antique plumbing and that mildew smell. There are no stores, no laundromats, no grocery stores, etc. In short, no shopping. I forgot a comb and couldn't buy one, so I had to borrow. I only ate things that had been boiled, such as rice, beans and coffee. What looks like a fancy restaurant often has no running water, and the bathroom attendant will sell you a square of toilet paper. Which made me wonder what was going on in the restaurant kitchens — no water, cleaning supplies, etc. No water can be imbibed, not even in the shower or for teeth brushing.