
// MARCH 2016
Until the next ... always
Thessaloniki
Mexico City
Havana
Trinidad
Santiago de Cuba
Guardalavaca
Cayo Coco
Varadero
Havana
Havana 2
Panama City
Cienfuegos
Sancti Spiritus
Camaguey
Valle de San Luis
Guantanamo
Baracoa
Holguin
Ciego De Avila
Cayo Guillermo
Santa Clara
Matanzas
Valle de Vinales
Pinar del Río
Vinales

Havana

 

12th of March 2016
Illusive Cuba of the great contradictions…

After a two hours flight, with an aircraft (type Tupolef) of Air Cubana, we arrived at the international airport of Havana. 

What should I remember first from this flight?

The fact that when you were turning the light on, by pressing the actual button over your seat, the lights over the seats next to you were turning off?
That when you were turning the ventilation on, the button was left… as a souvenir in your hand?
The lousy sandwiches that we were given for lunch?
The patches on the wings that were painted with some kind of… spray?
Good job it was not raining, either wise it could be very possible that water would start dribbling inside the ancient relic of Air Cubana.

I was wondering if the factory had closed and the aircraft dealership had stayed opened…
The first thing we saw, when we arrived at the international airport Jose Marti was a huge aircraft belonging to Aeroflot.
A rather strange, delusive feeling with an ex Soviet Union aroma overwhelmed us quite ominously…

Heat… humidity… and all the ground stewardesses “figures of another era”… The men were wearing badly fitted uniforms and the young ladies fishnet stockings. So misfit in such a hot weather, really! 

We passed through passport control and then went to the luggage strap to take our suitcases. Within the first half an hour, only a few well wrapped up packages came out. Then there was a pause and then the arrivals boards changed. After that, passengers from two more flights (from Cancun and Mexico City) arrived. As for us… we were still stuck there waiting…
 


 

Revolution: The one of the… «Mojitos at the Beach»

Any time we were asking for some information, they were telling us: “wait”. 
When we were asking for someone in charge there, we were told that there was no such a person!
When we were pressing too much, they were all leaving to find the person in charge… of a «general pointless walkabout» and never coming back!
And the time was passing by… And the possibility to take some advantage of our afternoon in Havana was becoming more and more distant…

At some point, we realized that many other passengers (from flight 131 of Air Cubana, coming to Havana from Mexico City) were also waiting, along with us.

Probably we should come in terms with the fact that all the clerks of the airport were having their own revolution…The one of the… «Mojitos at the Beach»!!!

When we eventually took our luggage, the time was 3:15 in the afternoon. And to think that our arrival time was 12:15… Great! When we exited and went to the station of the Car Rental Company Cubacar we were informed that there was no automatic car. Probably it was of no importance to them the fact that the reservation had been made two months ago!

This is where I felt the blood coming right up my head and said to the Cuban guy:

«I booked an automatic car and an automatic car I am going to get!»
«But I do not have any!»
«It is not my problem! You should have taken care of it! It is your job, after all!»

Eventually he found an automatic Bud, he charged us too for the 46 lt of petrol already existing in the car tank and all fine, all well. Now our only worry would be how we would return it empty.
 


 

We took the car and started driving towards the centre of Havana. We were very tired, very sweaty, very disappointed. All those things that we had been reading all along in the travel guides were feeling to us colourless, tasteless and pointless. 

Having chosen consciously the particular moment for our journey to Cuba, before the opening of passenger flights from USA, which would result to thousands of visitors coming from there, I begun to wonder:
Would it be wiser, eventually, to have waited and to have come here after the end of the “Castro Era”?
We should just have to wait and see about that… 



Christos is still laughing

While searching for the hotel, with GPS leading us to one way streets backwards, since Cuba is one of the very few countries in the world where applications of navigation and map updating are not available, we stopped, so as to ask a patrol car which was coming behind us, how on earth we were going to reach our hotel.
The police officer asked for our driving licence and the documents concerning the rental car and then told us that we were violating a stop traffic signal, in a road which was full of debris, which, more over, was making visibility difficult, if not driving itself.

He also claimed that we had to be ticketed, but he was not all that sure about it. We told him that we had only euro to give him.

After certain negotiations in «Aglocuban» and, mainly, in the sign language, the policeman took for himself 50 euro and forgot all about the ticket…  

Finally, we arrived at the hotel Aslazul Lincoln Hotel, located in Calle Gervasio. It was a beautiful, externally, building, under renovation. During check in, I asked for wifi, but the receptionist informed me that only the hotel Casa Blanca, 350 meters away, actually, was offering one such a service!

I was absolutely astonished and Christos… well he is still laughing.

He told me that I reminded him of a lady in Greece’s Lefkada Island, a real character, who was asking for fresh French croissants in 1988…

And then we had the inevitable negotiation, concerning the security of our car during the night, since it would be parked right outside our hotel, but to the side road.
The night doorman would take care of it, eventually, during the whole night, for the price of 3 CUC ~ 3 USA$. 
The room was the complete defeat of our expectations, but it was at least clean.
Obviously annoyed and furious, we went to the neighborhood’s super market to buy bottled water and several necessary supplies. We found a super market totally packed, but… there were not any products on the shelfs. The only thing in abundance was the toilet paper and everyone was carrying plenty of rolls. They were all so enthusiastic about the toilet paper, that we got carried away and bought ourselves some rolls too!

Oh, I should mention the chickens too! They were enfolded in thin cellophane wrappers and had an offer price. They were exposed into something that once you could have called a fridge. We had gone so far by then, that we would have bought the damn chicken too, if there was a way to cook it and if it didn’t look already so worn… 

After the first… cultural sock, we tried our credit cards and then returned to the hotel, having in mind to sleep early, as if along with the tiredness we would be able to «exorcise» the bad luck of our first day in Cuba… 

Country: Cuba
Date: 2016
Route: Cuba
Cities: Thessaloniki, Mexico City, Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Guardalavaca, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Havana, Havana 2, Panama City
Duration: 9
Difficulty:
Population: 11.418.197
Rating:
comments
VIEW
comments
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Country: Cuba
Date: 2016
Route: Cuba
Cities: Thessaloniki, Mexico City, Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Guardalavaca, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Havana, Havana 2, Panama City
Duration: 9
Difficulty:
Population: 11.418.197
Rating:
comments
VIEW
Country: Cuba
Date: 2016
Route: Cuba
Cities: Thessaloniki, Mexico City, Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Guardalavaca, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Havana, Havana 2, Panama City
Duration: 9 days
Difficulty:
Population: 11.418.197
Rating:
comments
VIEW