After a second night in the Hotel Colon, we were off onto our next destination: Santiago de Cuba. I have to say, I was pretty relieved to be leaving the hotel and going back to staying in Casas – they felt a lot more cosy and secure. Not to mention the fact that I definitely got bitten silly in the bed in the hotel. Every time I got out of bed (which given that I had a couple of naps as well as nights in it) I was sporadically covered in tiny little bites – similar to mosquito bites but smaller and so so much more itchy!
Anyways..the journey onwards. This was another journey with a couple of nice stop offs and we had a nice time on the bus too. By this time, I think the group was a bit more lively on the bus because we were all over our jet lag and were used to the humidity. We had a bit of a Spanish lesson with our guide, Diosbel, who laughed at us as we tried to practice our language skills with ‘slightly’ off accents! haha It was a nice bit of fun though and my age 14 Spanish classes actually came flooding back – well, maybe not flooding but definitely trickling! Turns out I’d been doing alright with my Spanish whilst I’d been there 🙂
For lunch we stopped off in Bayamo – we popped into a small cafe to order some simple but filling hot sandwiches (I had pulled beef and it was good!) before popping next door to the a very musical patio – I think it was called ‘Uneac’ – at least that’s what I think it was given my flick through the Lonely Planet! We sat and had a fruit drink (I say we, the group as it had was tropical so probably had pineapple in 😦 ) and watched as the group played music and taught us some ‘simple’ dance moves. A little bit like salsa but not – I have to say it through me! I’d only just figured out the rhythm and beats of salsa and now I was being told something so similar but different that I just got a bit confused! It was a really nice atmosphere though. We then headed back to the cafe for our much needed food!
We then headed for a short walk through Bayamo – we walked through the main square: Parque Céspedes. The square itself was really nice – it was bright and pretty. There were two statues in the middle, facing each other: one bronze one of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (hero of the First War of Independence) and the other a marble bust of Perch Figured with the words of the Cuban national anthem which he wrote. We walked a loop back to the bus again – it was a nice walk and it broke up the day quite well.
Then, it was back on the bus for the last leg of today’s journey, which was cheered up with a bit of alcohol! It was a homemade Canchánchara (the lemonade, honey and rum mixture) – this was made with a lovely honey that our guide had. It was really nice and sweet so I definitely enjoyed it 🙂
When we reached Santiago de Cuba, we were all in different guest houses as there were all quite small compared to the other ones we’d been in. My boyfriend and I were in a nice one with a large room and a good view. We then headed out for our orientation walk. We went up to the roof of the Hotel Casa Granda in the Parque Céspedes (main square) and had a cocktail. (Well worth the 3CUC cover charge which included a drink!) We admired the view and watched the square fill up in front of us.
Tonight was going to be a Salsa show – they were setting up the staging and it looked like it was going to be a big event. As it was due to start about an hour or so after we got there we decided to stay on the roof to admire it from above. Our guide was in contact with the friend of the organiser and so we found out the show got shifted 30mins, so we decided to have a late dinner. It then got shifted another hour so we made a decision to nip back to the main Casa a quick shower and dinner.
We sat on one of the covered balcony areas of the largest Casa and had a nice buffet dinner. It was very similar to the other buffet dinners, but it tasted good which is the important thing. Not even 30 minutes into dinner our guide let us know that the show had already started and finished – definitely some sort of Cuban timing going on there! Ah well, I guess we’ll never know what we missed.
That night, people were planning where to go for after dinner drinks and dancing but the rain came. And it chucked it down for about 40mins – there was a chess set so my boyfriend and Disobel got stuck into a game. The rest of us chatted for a bit until there was a general consensus to go to bed. The first early night for most of the trip!