Machiko’s space - Individual travel log from Window’s Live Spaces blog
We went to Cuba in May for 4 weeks, but better late than never I hope. Cuba wasn’t exactly the easiest place to find internet access and when we did it was expensive. We also had better things to do like drink mojitos and mess about in the oh-so-blue Caribbean; but that’s probably the least typical side of Cuba. The reality is far more complicated, and much more fascinating.
We arrived at Havana airport early evening to be accosted by the usual predatory taxi drivers. Ridiculous offers, and a few sarcastic laughs on my part, and we finally found one who would take us to our hotel for something fractionally less than an arm and a leg. Yet even he tried to insist on some mythological obligatory tip at the end of the journey. I gave him the agreed price and turned my back on him and headed for the hotel lobby.
The hotel Inglaterra is listed as a national monument. Its faded opulence wasn’t quite as luxurious as the price suggests; but the place was an experience in itself. To make matters worse, our bargain internet booking had disappeared to be replaced by the full rate of almost £100 per night. However, some concentrated bargaining managed to split the difference and we decided to stay. Next door but one to the Capitol Building with a lovely park-like plaza across this turned out to be a good place to start our little Cuban adventure.
Three days of wandering the streets and taking in various sights, and a couple of lively bars, and we took an internal flight down to Santiago de Cuba in the south-east. Like Havana, the place had its share of old buildings, ancient cars, colourful characters and lively bars. Music wherever you go seems to be the norm, and some surprisingly great art galleries too. Yet we only lingered a day before taking an early bus to Baracoa. Stopping briefly at Guantanamo (of notorious Guantanamo Bay fame), we then climbed a winding pass through rainforested hills before descending to the coast and the small town of Baracoa. First impressions, a concrete esplanade backed by crumbling featureless apartment blocks, weren’t great, but the centre was old and quaint. There for the first time we grew accustomed to seeing shops with little on the shelves, ration queues, and queues for supermarkets that were almost paranoid about security. We met an old guy who played in a band and were invited to watch him play, which we did following a day on a white sandy beach to the west accessed by minibus along bumpy roads through rainforest and tiny hamlets.
We love reading about these individual journeys through Cuba. This is well written and recommend reading the rest of the article if you like these stories.