Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Sunday, January 28, 2007

While certainly not cold, the weather has been cooling. The cloudy day I anticipated on Friday, which turned fine by noon, is back this morning. It feels like rain. I said this yesterday, and after being informed by Odalis and Jorge that it only rains at night, I was delighted to see a few big drops fall and prove my weather foreguessing works in Cuba as well.

In the middle of breakfast today, it spatters again, then gets more steady. Food tables are moved under cover. Warm rain. We shrug it off and keep eating in the shower. Odalis gets a little red umbrella for Lucy, but Jorge calls me out of the rain with Jonathan. It's considered bad here for babies to get wet. Suddenly it's raining in earnest. Doors are thrown closed and shutters turned as the bouncing, heavy drops reach inside any opening. The drain in the courtyard blocks and in seconds we have a small lake.

To Lucy's delight, we have several more downpours in succession. She walks along the roof edge, listening to the thud on her umbrella. The water pours from the ceramic spouts in town. Thirty minutes later, you'd hardly know it rained. Jorge sweeps the courtyard free of water, and voila, a warm, partly cloudy day.

From Susanne's glowing report of the beach yesterday, Julie is keen to head to the ocean. We only need some drinking water, so head for the store, which is oddly closed at 11:30 a.m. Store hours are a fiction here. Maybe there's an emergency, maybe the clerk is playing dominoes up the street. The bus isn't here yet anyway.We join the group sitting on the steps, and settle into that state of no anticipation-- stepping out of time's concern.

While we wait, a woman who could be a young Julie Delpy asks us in the most charming accent if we'd share a cab with her and her boyfriend, as they've been told the beach bus isn't coming. I suspect this is a ploy of the cab driver for a fare, but also know Julie would rather have AC than the public bus. The taxi predictably has no seatbelts, but we get Lucy to squat down behind the front seats, I strap the baby to my chest facing in, and we're off.

The couple are from Argentina. It's not cheap or easy for them to get to Cuba (four stopovers), so I'm not clear on why they've left summer at home for the trip. We're at the beach before I think to ask.

I guess I've been spoiled by Hawaii and Australia, but the beach is nothing special. Yes, nice sand, warm water and for $2 a big, grass beach umbrella and lounge chair. But it's windy and the shelter is some distance from the surf. Give me Gilligan's lagoon any day.

Lucy and I stroll down the beach, playing chicken with the surf until she feels comfortable. On the way back, I carry her chest deep through the Caribbean. We arrive back to a stressed Julie 15 minutes later. Jonathan has been fussing, it's hot and windy, and she wants to leave. In the rush to get going, I have no chance to cash my big bill or find out transport options. I hear the bus to town is leaving and we hurriedly pack and leave.

Our rushed retreat results in a hot, crowded local bus, for which we have insufficient money (the driver finds it funny when I ask to pay with pesos). If we weren't hot, stressed and harbouring whiny children, I'd enjoy this ride. We're the only tourists on the bus. Locals rib the driver for swerving to avoid a goat. There's an easy camaraderie that's missing from exchanges in the tourist quarters. Julie has a nice if hesitant chat (more of a dance the two carry out with hand gestures) with one of the maids from the beach hotel, on her way home.

We finally arrive in Trinidad, after stopping at various tiny communities, but where in town are we? Bici-taxis hover, locals offer opinions, but no one recognises the name of our street or even Parque Cespedes, the main town plaza. Even when I pull out the map, the differences of opinion on direction and distance to go are bewildering. We hope in a bici-taxi and set off in the majority-agreed direction, only to have me spot our street not three blocks away! This is a common issue for Cuban towns. They have official names on maps and street signs, which the locals all ignore in favour of the pre-revolutionary names.
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