Label Cloud

maandag 1 oktober 2007

Cuba Update 3

The holidays are over. Back in ce plat pays qui est le mien. Before we get back to the harsh reality of the real (cold) life, a last quick update about our trip. In later posts I'll give a more detailed account with pictures.

Tuesday Hammy, Santa Lucia, and me went on a Seafari. This meant a trip with a catamaran for some snorkling and lunch on the beach of one of the small islands around Cuba. Only 12 people were on board: the three of us, Raciel (Mexico) and his girlfriend Yu (Japan, they met studying in Vancouver), and the crew. Why 7 crew members when you only need 3? Who knows. The Cuban government is good at creating useless jobs to avoid unemployment. After an hour or so, the catamaran stopped to give us the opportunity to snorkle. Unfortunately the sea was a bit rough. It was quite difficult to stay in one place and under water the visibility wasn't very high. Still, I got to see a few fishies and touch the reef. The fun was over though the moment I swam through a bunch of jelly-fish. My entire body was tingling, and not in a good way. Luckily, a dash of vinegar solved that problem. This was only a minor annoyance. When everyone was done swimming we continued our trip to the island. There we ate excellent paella with sea food. More interesting were the iguanas and the enormous amount of creepy-crawlies (hermite crabs). Iguanas are funny creatures. They seem slow at first, but they can be really fast when there food to be had. Yu and Lucia weren't too thrilled about them. Especially Lucia was a bit creeped out. They come really close since they know that the humans that visit their turf have snacks. Although they're not agressive by nature, they have sharp teeth, and they follow you around when you feed them. The big cabin where we had our food wasn't on ground level. I assured Lucia that they can't climb the wood board we were sitting on. How wrong I was. Just before finishing our lunch there was one next to her. They won't let you touch them, but they like what you've got to offer. Anyway, after the expected amount of screaming and jumping on tables, the iguana took off and Lucia and Hammy went for some more snorkling. This time they stayed close by. Since the water was a lot calmer next to the beach they got to see a lot more. On the way back the crew started blasting Reggaeton on the soundsystem. By the time we were halfway back, Raciel and some of the Cubans were getting quite drunk. Eventually, one of them urged the rest of us to dance on the bough. I'm guessing they make their own fun since they don't have much to do all day. Be as it may, it was a fun and disconcerting experience to be shakin' our ass on a boat next to a fat Cuban who's giving it all he's got.

Wednesday, a friend of our casa owner drove us to Varadero, via Santa Clara. The road to Santa Clara goes through the mountains, so we got some beautiful views, before we reached the mausoleum of Che Guevara. This is located on top of a hill, next to a big road. You can see a big statue of the most famous image of the Revolution, accompanied with reliefs and parts of his speeches and sayings. On the background you can hear revolutionary music playing. The statue itself is ugly though. At the back, there is a small museum and the actual mausoleum. Both have been done with more style and respect. The museum houses memorabilia placed within context, giving you a quick overview of the man. The mausoleum is comprised of his image, and of the images of guerrillas that have fought with him, and an everlasting flame (more an everlasting blowtorch, but who am I to judge) lit by Fidel Castro himself (naturally). I'm glad we stopped there on the way north, but I wouldn't recommend going there only for the mausoleum.

Varadero is, according to our driver, not Cuba. Here you find the all-inclusive resorts, postcard beaches and ... well that's about it. The only Cubans that are allowed in are those that live or work there. Officially there are no casas particulares, just hotels. Although we did have the address of an illegal casa, we opted for a budget hotel: the Turkino (Mount Turkino is where Castro's base camp was located during the uprising). That night we hooked up with a Slovakian and 2 English girls we had already met in Trinidad to hang out in one of the rooms and get drunk. The next day, the girls got into some serious tanning. Since I got burned the first time we went to the beach, I remained in the shade. In the evening we had sea food by the sea and went for a midnight swim.

By then our time was almost up. Lucia had to catch her plane back to Holland Friday morning. So, Hammy and I traveled to Habana, where we hung out for two more days. This time around Habana wasn't as stressy as in the beginning. We didn't have a hectic schedule and we had gotten used to the jinitero's by now. About two hours before we had to go, we got to see some good live music and we saw our two Flemish friends from the busride again (we saw them earlier as well but that's a different story). At this last moment we decided to smuggle some extra rum (you can only take 1 bottle per person). Luckily we got it all in Belgium.

In conclusion: we have gotten a glimpse of Cuban life and culture, drank rum and smoked cigars every day, and met nice people.

Geen opmerkingen: