Santiago de Cuba

Trip Start Oct 09, 2006
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

After leaving Trinidad, we made a pitstop for one night only at Camaguey, Gustavo in Trinidad had recommended a place and as it was real nice... we stayed there.

Camaguey was a lovely break from people hassling you. We were able to walk around hassle free.. AND... everything was like a third cheaper than in Trinidad and Varadero. There's not much to do in Camaguey however. We did get fumigated and ripped off AGAIN!!! This ripping off really peeed us off. The waitress beaatch, in her wierd tights, was really nice. On the menu a plain coffee was 0.70cucs, nice and cheap. However, what was not on the menu was a Coffee with Milk, which the dollybird kept asking us to have...... so, as we were in the mood for one, we had one. When we got the bill, we were charged 2.50 cucs for the Coffee with Milk, in other words she pocketed the fecking difference.... since when does condensed milk in ONE coffee cost 1.80cucs.... we were raging!!!! It was just another example that you can't trust anyone in this country, the money was not an issue, it was the deceit... fecking really annoying!!!!!

We left Camaguey and got the bus to the birthplace of Salsa... Santiago de Cuba.
Once again we Gustavo had recommended a place to stay, so we went there. We knocked on the door, the old lady that answered.... "ahhh, the Irish have arrived".... eh... ok, we hadn't even said "hello" yet!!! We hadn't even seen the room and she was signing us up to stay! The house was like something from Angelas Ashes... a really tenement. However.... being nice we said we'd stay... for one night.... even though the room was a dump, we didn't tell her that though did we!!!! Hope she ain't reading this!!!

We went out for beers... and had a load! We met up with some Irish peeples and ending up having a few too many. The two of us and one of the Irish guys even managed to get into a locals only place!! Twas like a community hall from home... and it was absolutely BRILLIANT..... the band jammin it, everybody salsa dancing, it was the real mccoy.

Next day we were woken by the folks in the tenement building at 6.30am .... bugger that.... we moved out by 9am!!! We found the BEST Casa Particular in Cuba!!! The apartment overlooks the main square in Santiago de Cuba. The family, Julian, his wife Yanni and their two kids, Laura and Amanda, made us soooo welcome. It was really nice to get some homely treatment... we ate our breakfast and dinners there every night.... absolutely awesome!!!
The apartment has windows all around, so all we did is sat at the table reading, guitaring, and watching the world pass by below. We saw some pretty strange things, like the beggers trying to hide their money cups when the police came around the corner.... to the little 4ft cigar smoking old lady hiking up her dress and going for a pee at the side of the cathedral... shudder shudder shudder!!!

Now, the best thing that we did in Santiago was... learn how to salsa dance !!!! Well, Mike tried to learn, Sarah laughed!!! We got lessons in the privacy of the casa, at the cost of 3 Euro each per hour!!!!!! We had a blast... Mike ended up dancin even better than that Paddy Swayze bloke... yeah right!!!! Medina, the teacher, danced with Sarah also, woooahahhh by golly did he show how it was done... .the swinging and the moving and the arms wiggling and the legs like spaghetti yet keeping with the music.... scary stuff!!!

On one of our last days in Santiago, we took an egg taxi out to the Castillo de Morro, a fantastic castle at the entrance to Santiago Bay. The place actually looked really like Charles Fort down in Kinsale. It was really great to get out of the city and get some peace and quiet near the sea, however, we were inevitably asked for money ... this time by the staff at the castle.... telling ye... all tourists are walking dollar signs.
One final thing of note in Santiago was the fact that no matter what bar you went into, there was always a Cuban bloke in there trying to befriend you. They'd ask you where you are from, can you speak Spanish, then they'll talk to you for 20 minutes or so.... before popping the question.... always looking to get money from you.... be it... can you change money for me or can i have money for my baby ? If you say no, they just get up and leave. This happened to us on more than one occasion in Santiago.... a pity really.
On our last night in Santiago, Julian cooked up a fantablous meal for us. He tried to get Lobster but no joy. After the dinner we all sat around, drank beer, and McGarry even entertained us with a few songs. As the guitar was out, the 4 year old, Laura, wanted to have a crack off it. Take a look at the video of her playing, however, the sound quality is really bad, but she was singing the infamous Cuban song... "Guantanamero", it was absolutely hilarious listening to her and watch her play.
Of all the places in Cuba, we really got a feel for the country in Santiago and this was down to the family we stayed with. We heard all kinds of stories about how tourists are ripped off, and we actually witnessed some of them too.... like the old guy, dressed up in raggedy clothes, no shoes, begging at the side of the street, when he owns a lovely house around the corner. He does it solely to get some bobs off the tourists. Another one is of the one legged man, who joins up with a girly who has a child. They pretend to be together and get moola out of the tourists... freaky!
Anyways.... tis time to get back to Havana and watch Fidels birthday party.
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