Sunny weather today! In the morning I went to a travel agency to book a trip for tomorrow to El Nicho waterfalls and to the bus station to buy a ticket to Trinidad. Walking back home, I was listening to music and enjoying the sun. I stopped at the Malécon and I got this wonderful feeling: First of all, I felt relaxed and on holidays. Second, I must tell you, my Spanish has gotten so much better in only one week! I can feel it myself, it is amazing. Of course I can only talk about quite basic things like what I've done in Cuba or where I am traveling to, about my life back home in Paris and so on. Sometimes I get challenged like one time in Havana when someone wanted to discuss the refugee crisis in Europe and Marine le Pen politics, my vocabulary just wasn't enough... And I still make loooots of mistakes. But when I concentrate I can understand almost everything and actually have a conversation, like build complete sentences and use verbs in different tenses. If I keep getting better at this speed I'll be bilingual by next summer! Many exclamation points in this chapter, I’m just so excited about everything.
Day 28, Cienfuegos: Traveling in Cuba is easy, now holiday time with locals in this pretty little seaside town.
All went well with taking the bus this morning. But traveling here is not like in Jamaica, everything is organized, bureaucratic (seriously, so much paperwork just to take a bus!) and the busses leave on time. Tourists are supposed to travel with Viazul busses, although I have heard of people who have managed to get on a “local” bus. An option for a bus is to take a “taxi colectivo” which means sharing a taxi with other people going to the same city. There are always taxis waiting in front of the Viazul stations and they leave when they have enough passengers. The price should be about the same than for a bus. Since I’m alone it is easier for me to take a bus instead of waiting for a taxi to be full but for a group of 3 or 4 people it is a good solution.
Cienfuegos is smaller town, by the sea and a bit more in the south. There is also a Malécon (boulevard by the sea) and a Paseo del Prado (central promenade), like in Havana. Here people live in houses, not in apartments.
Yesterday I was exhausted after a long night and lots of dancing at the Casa de la Musica. I slept late and then only went for short walk in Centro Habana (why is the weather so bad all the time??). In the evening I had food and a drink at a very nice little bar called El Chanchullero. I really liked the food (chicken with vegetables), it was a little bit different from the usual and very tasty. The cocktail was good as well and cost only 2CUC ! I was alone so I was seated at the bar, in front of the cooking area. I could observe chefs prepare the meals and the bartender mix drinks, that was interesting. Many of them were young, quite handsome men and every now and then they would stop to chat with me for a minute. :) The ambience was cozy and casual, and great music, I totally recommend! After that, I wanted to go dancing again but I wasn’t sure where. I assumed that if I sit down for a drink on a terrace in Habana Vieja, someone will surely come talk to me and I can ask if they know a good place where the locals go. My plan worked out perfectly, I met two friendly local guys who took me to a night club called la Gruta. The music was a mix of salsa and reggeaton and, as always, the Cuban guys were very eager to teach me how to dance. It doesn’t bother me because they really know how to move and I like dancing. But as soon as they show interest in more than just dancing I find an excuse to go and disappear (because so far I haven’t found any Cubans I would be interested in).
I went for a walk at the Malécon last night, it was pretty! In a way it reminded me of Paris and walking along the Seine. People sitting and chatting, some playing guitar. It was a little bit cold but in the summer I guess it is packed with people and maybe they even picnic like in Paris. Watching a sunset by the water is one of the best things I know and that’s what I did. I also run again into the guitar guy from the other day, he was there playing with some friends. It was nice to sit for a while with them, listening them play and singing along.
Day 24, Havana: Strolling around in Habana Vieja, surrounded by colourful houses and cars, museums and Cuban rhythms.
It is my second whole day in Havana and while writing this I am sitting at the 6th floor rooftop terrace bar at Hotel Ambos Mundos, sipping a Virgin Piña Colada and admiring the panoramic view over the city. This is a hotel where Hemingway used to stay, after I finish I will go take a look at his room. The Piña Colada really comes inside a piña and here’s some pictures of the view:
I don’t think I will ever be able to post this while in Cuba but I’m still writing to say that here I am! I just arrived to my casa particular, the guest house I am staying at, and was warmly greeted by the owner Señora J, her son Y and nephew R, and an older man, I didn’t catch his name but I think it was J’s husband. They sat me to the table, put a glass of (what R said was) the best Cuban rum in front of me, and started talking, all four at the same time. I understood maybe the half and tried to reply something not too idiot. For the rest of the time I just smiled. Already boarding the plane in Miami and during the short stopover at Panama City I got a strange, uneasy feeling of being the only non-Spanish speaking there, and very much out of my place. Like so many times before in my life, I asked myself the same old question: “What the hell am I doing?”
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!