Ross's first 12 hour bus trip

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End May 11, 2008

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Of course, the morning of our first cross-country, 12-hour bus trip, Ross and I wake up feeling less than 100%.  I seemed to be worst off with some lingering gastro-intestinal distress, but I was soon proven quite wrong - Ross was quite sick, and would get worse throughout the course of our trip.  I rebounded quickly enough and we got to the bus with time to spare.  The price to Santiago de Cuba was 33CUC each.  Kara & Leigh showed up a few minutes later - they decided to go to Cienfuegos on the same bus as us.  I tell ya, they just couldn't get enough! :)

Three hours into the trip we stopped at the best bus stop I've ever seen in Latin America - it was called the Oasis, and it had great trees and lawns and quite seriously some of the cleanest bathrooms I've seen in Cuba.  They had both toilet paper and soap! They had food too that was pretty darn good!

Kara and Leigh got off about six hours into the journey, and things went downhill pretty quickly.  Ross really started to feel unwell, and the bus started stopping ALL the time.  The highlight was when one of the bus drivers (the one who had driven earlier in the day) decided that he needed something to drink...namely, a six-pack of beer and a couple of big bottles of rum.  The bus drivers and a few of the passengers had a bit of a party at the front of the bus.  I gotta say, it's a bit disconcerting to hear beer bottles opening on a bus.  Anyway, later on, this same bus driver picked up his girlfriend/wife, but she was unhappy about something, and they proceeded to have a domestic in the seats behind us.  Truly lovely.  

The washrooms also went downhill pretty rapidly.  At one stop, there was neither running water nor toilet paper (let alone soap!) and when I approached one of the sinks to see if it was working, cockroaches scurried out from the area.  Needless to say, I didn't get much closer to see if the water was running.  

In the last few hours of the trip, we must have stopped twenty times at different stops so our bus driver could a) drop off his girlfriend b) get more to drink c) use the washroom.  It was madness!!

We finally arrived in Santiago about forty minutes late, and outside there was a real scrum.  As soon as we opened the door taxi drivers and casa owners were in our faces trying to get us to go with them.  We managed to keep our wits about us and we found an official driver who took us to Casa Maruchi.  We got to the casa, but unfortunately it was full.  However, Maruchi had us come in and gave us juice while she sent her son to check and see if a casa down the street was available.  It was, and the lady came back (with her hair in curlers!) and took us to her place.  We were starting to feel hungry, so we asked if there was a restaurant nearby.  She said that she would cook for us, which was fantastic! She made blackbean soup and rice, and fried plantains and then chicken and potatoes. (I'd decided not to tell her that I didn't eat meat since she was cooking for us at 10pm.)  Unfortunately, Ross started to feel REALLY bad at this point and had to go lie down.  We barely touched the food, so I had to explain to her that we weren't feeling very well.  It was delicious though!
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