Santiago De Cuba
18.08.2007 - 20.08.2007 35 °C
There has only been three times since I have been travelling that I have almost been reduced to tears. Once was after a particularly long bus journery to Buenos Aires and then being ripped off by a taxi driver, the other was when I said goodbye to Sama (awww) and the third was in the bus terminal in Santiago de Cuba. (I´m not much of a crier and those who know me well know it takes quiet a lot to bring on the waterworks for me!) Santiago just about broke me though. After three days of the worst days we had in Cuba, I was waiting for an overnight bus to Havana, I was sick from a stomach bug (when your guide book warns of parasites in the water it´s probably not best to accept drinks with ice cubes!) and all I really wanted was my Mum (what is it about being ill that makes us want our Mums?) Of course I didn´t break down and bawl, because I was in a bus station and that would have been embarrassing!
We had gone to Santiago for the music which is supposed to be some of the best in Cuba. What we got was three days of constant harrassment by the men and it all got a bit much in the end. We couldn´t walk down the street without being followed or yelled at or hissed at (Cubans hiss to get your attention, kinda like yelling "oye, you!" and for some reason I found it really offensive!) We ended up spending a lot of time in a gringo hotel, Hotel Casa Grande, just to get some peace.
Gill had remarked that we needed to get me a wig, as my blonde hair was getting quite a lot of attention, everything from a supposed olympic boxer stroking it (at which I promptly told him to bugger off and walked away) to comments like "your hair is like sunshine" ...they are anything but poetic, the Cuban men!
Still, Santiago wasn´t without it´s good points. We were staying an amazing casa which was pretty much an art deco museum. The old lady that owned the place only seemed to use her wicker rocking chair, the rest of the place was untouched. We did hear some good music, it seemed to spill out from every street corner. And we had a lovely morning visiting an old fort, driven there in an 1930´s convertible. Cool.
But then we both got sick. The bent over forward stomach hurts real bad kinda sick. And we had to catch an overnight bus to top it all off. This is when i wanted to cry...it was the bus station toilets that did it, not nice. When we arrived in Havana, we had planned on going straight through to our next destination, but Gill was pretty bad by this stage so we decided to stay in Havana for the day and see how we felt later on. A taxi driver took us to a casa which was a little apartment run by an old couple (when we got there, at 7am, the husband was asleep on the couch, think he was in the dog house!). The senora looked after us, she was really sweet. We went to the hospital for Gill to see a doctor (I was feeling much better by this stage) and then went back to the casa for some more sleep so that we would be ok to leave the next day. It was our second night spent in Havana without really seeing any of it!
me at the fort
Our cool mode of transportation
Santiago rooftops at dusk
yet another car shot!