Fish barms and Fish stings

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
With a Cuban family

Flag of Cuba  ,
Friday, February 18, 2011

I woke up with a foul stinking hangover hardly able to move, my eyes were swollen and it looked like I had just come out of a boxing match, thankfully our wonderful host was on hand with a freshly made cuban espresso, she found my morning state very amusing, despite now having a family the mother of the family is not that much older than myself and even with no language in common we were getting on like a house on fire.

We pretty much staggered into the street outside and headed off towards town in an attempt to spend some ordinary Cuban Peso, get some very cheap food to soak up the wretched alcohol still in our systems, well I did at least, I feed a hangover Erica starves one. The local food shops are ridiculously cheap, I started with a fish barm cake, which to my mind is a delicacy only really served in the Northwest of England however in Cuba they do them for 5 ordinary peso or 10 pence, they are prepared on big trays and left on windowsills or handed to you from behind metal bars like a prison. We were the only non Cubans we saw in our whole time in cuba queuing up to buy the local food, it is so much cheaper than the tourist fayre, next I had a whole pizza (like the size of your hand) again which set me back about 6 pence and they were served hot straight out of the oven. A lot of people seem to eat like this here, they just graze from stall to stall. Our contact was right Cuba if you dont want to be a proper tourist can be done so very, very cheaply and I suppose that is why there are two currencies, for people that are earning practically nothing they can still afford to live, it is so obvious which places are dealing in Cuban Pesos and which are in tourist pesos, there are no suits or waistcoats, there are huge queues of Cubans and there are no toursits, visa versa the tourist places. We even managed another coffee for 1 ordinary peso or 2 pence, it is brilliant and a side of Cuba we would never have been able to enjoy if we didnt have our contacts... then again if this was a trip by itself I guess the Lonely Planet etc would explain but we have no guide books or internet or anything.

We then spent about 45 minutes looking for internet which took us into some of the posh hotels which to be frank were amazing, so colonial and well kept but then again so expensive, our contact had told us a lot of the ordinary Cuban people have got big issues with tourism as the government is making so much money from this yet they get to see so little of the money, hence why locals are loitering outside trying to flog cigars and whatever else. Anyway we found Cuba to be internet free although we did see signs of computers in some places and we have met people who are so proud of the fact they have there own computer (and they must have internet of some sort for us to have been able to contact them from Colombia).

After another walk around which was eye opening yet again, the cars here are totally amazing, that they are still running and how iconic they are, a lot of cabs are old American cadillacs that will take you around town for about 10 peso.  Also we had a closer look at the shops which are unmistakably Communist, they are extremely sparse and everything is behind a counter, like decades ago at home it is a bit eerie really, we headed again for the beach and trying to top up the tan before we head back to cold and sunless Salford. We found a quiet spot on the beach and just chilled for a few hours, oh yes forgot to say we couldnt go in the sea because there were so many amazing jellyfish, they were being washed up on the shore however it remained our favourite game to watch the tourists go past the red flags into the sea and start swimming before getting stung all over and screaming running back to shore. Of course it isnt all fun watching them geting stung, you have to go through the process of approaching them and offering to urinate on them..... well that is the factual cure for jellfish stings is it not!

We got back from the beach and to our amazement our host had cooked us tea, it was very simple just pasta and cheese, we were a bit ashamed to accept as the fridge and cupboards are almost bare everyday, but she wasnt taking no for an answer it was simple but good and we are here to experience life from a Cuban perspective as well. Tonight Erica was also given a gift of a bracelet and neckless (we got a bag last night), we searched through our bags again and found some gifts we did not think were any good however some members of the family were over the moon. We again had to give Lady E's straighteners over, I suggest she leave them but GHD's are not something Lady E will part with. We also found a neckless from an Asian country to give our host who was over the moon with it. We are so settled in now that people just walk into our room and sit down with us and start looking through our bags and at anything we have, the Ipod is causing mayhem, but then again so has a wedding magazine, we popped out and bought our host another bottle of white rum which she promptly refused to accept but agreed to drink with us.

Finally an early night and we are not drunk, I'll tell you something though we are thoroughly enjoying our time here and the Cubans continue to climb northwards on our scale of our favourite national people of the trip.  They are so genuinely friendly that it is amazing, Im not talking about the ones who want to sell something either, we have so many presents that we have tried to not accept but it feels so rude to say no - even the head totches that we have given the little boy who lives here have become the favorite toy for the moment - the fact that it flashes amazes him.  We have really been searching out bags for anything that would constitute a good gift for them even Sindy that we bought in Chile and has travelled thousands of kilometres with us has found a new home!  From the Salt Flats to Havana - what a well travelled doll.

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