Santiago de Cuba

Trip Start Mar 16, 2017
Trip End Mar 30, 2017

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Flag of Cuba  , Santiago de Cuba,
Monday, March 20, 2017

I realised last night that I don't seem to be able to finish books or movies...I feel so tired at the end of the day that I can't keep my eyes open for long when I go to bed!

So, today after breakfast, we had our official city tour of Santiago. You will see lots of photos below. We left the main square and drove through a lovely residential area called Alegra. Beautiful colonial houses (not all in great condition but pretty nice). As always with the regime not all is what it seems...most of the houses have of course been taken away from their legitimate owners by the state and then redistributed as offices, student housing and clubs and also to re house families. So far away from our way of thinking that you just find yourself listening and nodding...because the person telling you says it as if it's normal.

Also normal seems to be told what to do and not to take initiatives. Lazaro told us that during a recent hearthquake, people assembled in revolution square waiting for government official to come there and tell them what to do.

We saw an old fort that has been turned into a place of education and a museum for the revolution. Being completely ignorant of Cuba's history, it was interesting to have the guide talk us through the last 100 or so years and Fidel's all makes more sense now :-). Although to an outsider like me it does seem that they have given up a dictator for another...

Amongst the monuments we saw today, was the cemetery and we saw Fidel's resting place and the changing of the guard. I hazard to say that the cemetery is the most well kept area of Cuba so far...pristine condition.

At lunchtime we experienced Cuban work etiquette in a bank as we needed to get some local currency for our days in the mountains. One and a half hour to change money...

Having survived the bank, me, Peter and Tina decided we deserved a rest and a treat and made our way to the terrace of the Hilton. It may not be as historic but at least it's not falling to pieces! The view over the harbour and town was amazing and the lunch very decent. We also appreciated the fact that we were alone. As you have to pay 3 cuc to go up, no one seems to go!

After the late lunch we went for an aimless walk and had ice cream in a cremeria for locals (and got ripped off on the price). But the ice cream itself was nice :-).

We then visited Velasquez house and the cathdral (both beautiful and worthwhile). And we ended the day with a drink on oyr hotel's terrace (and got ripoed off by the young waiter!). Last night we payed 2.50 cuc for our Cuba Libre, but today we were charged 3.50 cuc...go figure. We had made allowance for this happening and it does often. Internet cards that cost 1.50 cuc, sonetimes you pay the right price, sometimes 2 cuc and we have payed as high as 4.50 cuc...but, beggars can't be choosers and these things are not always available (the rum is!).

We had dinner in a private house restaurant. The food wasn't bad and the setting was special. We had the very top terrace of the house, so only our table was up there, and again the view was lovely, the conversation flowed, especially after a few drinks.

Funny event of the day: crazy lady Jaz turned up to the dinner because she thought it was a walk, so poor Lazaro had to walk her back to the main square to make sure she didn't get lost as she didn't want to eat with us!

Early night tonight (10pm), so I am hoping to finish my movie!

Leaving for Bayamo in the morning.

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