
// 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

Santiago de Cuba


14nth of March 2016
Something like… Convertible currency???

CUC or CUP???
Before leaving Trinidad we exchanged some currency from cash machines. CUC (equivalence 1-1 CUC - USA $ and commission 7,5 $) _while at cambio we could exchange 100 $ for 87 CUC_ and started our trip towards Sancti Spiritus. 
We crossed Valle de San Luisa beautiful valley with many cane mills and palm cultivations, which is protected by Unesco. The valley was literally lost into the morning mist. 



While passing by the village Jatibonico, we saw people waiting to buy bread. I got off the car so as to buy some too. When my turn came, I asked for a loaf of bread and showed the woman in the cashier the change that I was holding in my hand. 

«No», she said categorically. 
«Moneda Nacional». 

I showed her a banknote too, but she kept moving her head negatively. Someone standing near me at the queue offered to give me some Cuban coins.
He took 25 cents from me and gave me back a banknote of 5. I paid the bread and I also took from the woman in the cashier some change, equivalent to 1 CUP.
We ate the bread within seconds and really regretted the fact that we had not bought some more of it. It was absolutely delicious. 

We found ourselves back in 50s… 

We passed by Sancti Spiritus. Beautiful town.
We continued on Carretera Central towards Camaguey, really enjoying the beautiful route.
We could see everywhere people waiting or walking.



And of course, they were not jogging under the damn heat.
Certainly not!

As Christos told me characteristically, it is a definite indication of poverty, when people of a certain country _and specifically inhabitants of peripheral areas_ are obliged to walk, instead of using some sort of decent transportation. ​

We could see track flatbeds everywhere that had been transformed for carrying people. They looked similar, though, to the ones that usually carry cattle. Some of them didn’t even have any windows. Only side narrow openings… Such a sad picture, really…

It felt as if we were back to 50s and not in romantic way…

But what alibi, really, can justify the hardship of people waiting on the road for hours before finding even some basic means of transport?
And why Cubans have given up, to such extend, that they look as if they no longer give a damn about this suffering?
Our journey was a diving into the past. Only history will give, at some point, the answer to whether it was a glorious one or not… 


The heart of Black Cuba...

We arrived at Camaguey at high noon, under unbearable heat. We went for a walk on foot at first and then we drove around the old city, the so called Zone Vieja, which is under the protection of Unesco.
 


When we started driving towards Santiago, which would host us for the evening, and while I was putting the new destination in the GPS, I realized that we were right below Bahamas and over Jamaica, with Haiti to the East.

That was a magic realization!
It really made my day!

So, eventually we reached Santiago, which is located in between Sierra Maerstra (which used to be the shelter and the basement too for Fidel’s and Che’s guerillas) and the beach.  While we were asking, searching for our hotel, Hostal San Basilio, we found on the road two young Cubans on a motorbike, who were willing to show us the way till there. They refused to take the usual 2 $ and the only thing they wanted from us was to go and eat to the restaurant of their friends, in the evening.​

After having freshened up and with our casual shoes on, we started our promenade from the very centre of the town, specifically from Park Cespedes and Eglesia Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. Locals were gathering in small groups outside their homes, while enjoying the afternoon breeze and the friendly talking. We remembered what we had read so far: Cubans do not seem to understand the difference between the home gathering and the road gathering, since the social life is taking place mainly outdoors and on the balconies, with the doors of the houses wide opened. This kind of social life brought us back to a not so distant past and to a similar habit that Greeks used to have in their own villages then… 

Enjoying the views of the town’s port, we had some nice frozen beer at the Roof Garden of  Grande Casa Hotel, while we were hearing and watching the music and dance program that the hotel was offering.

 


Afterwards, we visited the restaurant recommended earlier on by the two young Cubans and then we walked on the small colorful roads and the central pedestrian street of the town.

Music could be heard from every single corner, since Santiago is the heart of Black Cuba and of its music too.
 

 

 

 

 

 

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
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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