01.12.2015 - 04.12.2015
We left Baracoa a few days before we had to fly out of Havana, the 12 hour bus ride to Camaguey was amongst the worst. Mostly because we had zero water and at the stopover in Santiago they had no water at the store so it was a litre of Pineapple juice each to get us by! Not ideal. On top of this was a Canadian guy behind me intent on talking off the ear of two German girls, not even my iPod cranked on high could drown the man out, then, the driver puts on a consecutive three terrible movies, all in Spanish and all at high volume. It was a very long bus ride. The few good points were relished, I enjoyed an awesome sunset out my windows in the evening listening to excellent tunes and we found some delightful peanut slabs at the "dinner" stopover (I highlight dinner because we pulled up on the side of a residential street where there were about 6 stands selling sweets, cigarettes and giant 3 kilo wheels of cheese).
We made it to Camaguey around 9pm were the casa mama showed us to our giant room, fed us a banquet and sent us to bed. Camaguey was solely a stopover for us also, so next morning was back to the bus station in the same old guys taxi that was slowly falling apart, the taxi not the old guy! Although the old guy looked like he enjoyed the glory days. After another 9 hours in a bus I was getting fed up and ended up yelling at a cab driver. He wasn't impressed but I am a foot taller so he wasn't taking any chances.
To blow off the cobwebs of too many buses we went for a walk to find our old watering the hole. The sight of our first Mojito and where we would soon get addicted to shots of espresso mixed with shots of Havana Club Especial. Anyone in Airlie Beach, its better than an Agua Bomb, believe me!
With our only free day in Havana we decided to head out to the beach. You pay $5cuc each, for a round trip and get to see parts of Havana, a great view over the bay, the fortress that guards Havana and an option of about 5 different sections of the beach to visit. Santa Maria del Mar is a beautiful white sand beach stretching for miles, some resorts back onto it, but in places there is public access. Soaking up the last of our Cuban sun, getting slammed into the shallow sandbanks as we body surfed and watching with humour as a couple tried casing us to rob our stuff (we were aware thanks to the police officer with the worlds best monobrow giving us a heads up, I'm talking one, solid centimetre thick eyebrow), was a great way to end the crazy adventure that was Cuba.
Again, that night we went back to our bar and had a few more espresso rums; never have more than three or you wont sleep again! We headed to another bar with an American traveller (Americans can enter techniqually still illegally by not getting a stamp on your passport. I think this year they are opening their borders) where a few women sitting outside, I think they were hookers, turned a said "Hey ladies, you looking for a boyfriend?" deciding to play the game I said "Ok sure. What you got?"
So Cuba Hooker #1 calls over her friend, "What about him?" she asks.
Me: "Ah, no, he's too short."
Hooker 1#: "Oh, what you like?"
Me: "Tall, Muscly, Guapo (Handsome)" I'm thinking, I've seen these guys standing around, she hasn't got one who fits that description.
I was wrong. Running over the road comes a guy that has clearly spent far too many hours in the gym with far too many steroids. Crap!
Hooker #1: "Him?"
Me: "Yeah, he's ok."
The poor guy, who doesn't speak any English gets embarrassed and runs back across the street only to gather himself together and return 10 minutes later. In the meantime, Cuban Hooker #1 and friends proceed to bring out an array of men, all shapes and sizes for us. After about 15 minutes of bantering with them, where hooker #1 confirmed that we did not need to pay, I eventually say "You got nothing for us. We'll try our luck elsewhere.", off we go home, escorted by two gentlemanly street dogs, laughing at the ridiculous scene we left behind.
It was sad to have to say goodbye to Cuba, I wish we had stayed for maybe a week or so longer to explore the north coast. But I guess it just means I will be planning a trip back! The sadness was momentarily forgotten on the ride to the airport as we had torrential rain, the puddles were the size of Olympic swimming pools about a foot deep, there was no drainage on parts of the highway, our driver said in another 10 minutes we wouldn't have been able to get through! He spent the entire drive singing don't worry be happy.
Back at the airport, our flight was late purely because the airport didn't have enough gates for us to board our flight. Our original gate was moved downstairs, but that had a backlog and were moved back upstairs again to be bundled on and off we went with free top shelf bourbon and a packet of Lays.
It was Adios Cuba, Hola Mex!