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woensdag 19 september 2007

Cuba Update 1

It took me a while to post anything about our, i.e. my girlfriend (whom I will be calling Hammy from now on) and I, trip to Cuba. There just isn t a lot of internet available here. I m guessing it is a control issue that the governement is having. Yesterday we tried to get some access. It took is an hour to find some. In the whole of Habana only two places offer internet. By the time we found these places it was getting a bit late, by which I mean that it was 5 in the afternoon. By that time there was no more access. Apparently there is a limited amount of time slots available.
Anyway, I will keep it short, since I only have little time (and working with a modified qwerty keyboard is bloody annoying). I will update everything in detail when we get back. So, we arrived saterday evening. A quick cab ride took us to our casa particular (a private house that offers lodgings, loads cheaper than any hotel), Casa Oralia. Oralia, the landlady, is very friendly, and the room seems clean, so we are happy. The next day she made us a copious breakfast. Just before taking off for our first day of sightseeing, she tells us that there is a broken main and that the entire block will be cut off of water. Because this is not our problem she hooks us up with a friend of hers who will rent us a room for the same price, what we appreciate of course. By the time we are settled in it is almost noon, meaning we already lost a lot of time. No matter though, the sun is shining bright, we are on holiday, so life is good.
We start walking towards the historical center, situated about a half hour walk from our casa. Underway we get acosted by this couple, Roberto and his wife (cannot remember her name, but let s call her Monita). They tell us that there is a music festival going on in honour of Compay Segundo, who just died recently, and that they know a place playing good music later on. Against our better judgement we follow them to a bar, where there is no live music, just a dj. We order some mojitos. They start explaining about the chabito. Although there are only two currencies in Cuba, the peso cubano or nacional, for locals, and the peso convertibele, for tourists, they claim that there is a third option that gives better exchange rates. This is a well known scam described in the Lonely Planet and on the internet. But hey, let them talk. When it becomes clear that we are not going for the bait, they try something else. Monita says she works in a cigar factory, which means she can get better prices. After a lot of talk, she eventually takes us to the home of (what she claims) her aunt, who is in charge of the cigar production. About half an hour later we finally buy a box of Romeo y Julieta, after opening the box, checking the contents and smoking a random cigar, for CUC 35.
For the next few days we have visited all the main sights and museums, of which I will talk later, when we are back. Three days of Habana is sufficient to see most of what there is to see. The biggest problem are the jiniteros, touts, who try to hustle you all of the time, making you feel like, as the Lonely Planet puts it, money on legs. We have just arrived in Viñales, a smallish town, where there is a lot of nature to see, horse riding to do and we can visit a relatively nearby pearly white beach. Time to wind down after the crowded streets of Habana. We have just checked in our casa here. The landlady showed us 5 booklets with positive comments of previous guests, all claiming that she is the best cook in the whole of Cuba, so I am curious now.
That is all for now. I will end by saying that I have been true to my word. I am drinking rum and smoking cigars and we are enjoying the good life. Oh, and dad, yes, the girls here very hot, but so are the guys. The mixing of colours has done wonders.

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