Cuba - introduction
3 Trinidad - Playa de Ancon
5 Havana - Playas del Este
7 Cayo Largo
The flight to Cuba would have been almost perfect were there not an idiot on the plane that smoked in two occasions in the toilettes, which activated the smoke detectors. The pilot got mad: he threatened to land the plane in the USA and ask for police assistance. The smoker fortunately stopped making trouble so we continued our flight to Cuba. When we got close to the island the pilot warned us that there is a storm raging over Cuba and that he expects strong turbulences. And so was it - as we were landing the rain was pouring and the lightings were flashing in the night. Once on the ground, due to the strong wind we waited some 10 minutes before the aircraft doors could be opened.
From December to March there should be very little rain on Cuba and the temperatures should be moderate, so it's strange to have such weather in this time of the year. In the summer it rains a lot and the temperatures are very high, while the autumn is the season of hurricanes.
Transportation on Cuba
There are also trains on Cuba, but they look more like a means for the transport of prisoners than of passengers. My experience here is limited because I saw only one train on Cuba, on an unprotected road crossing (where the traffic signalization didn't work, of course).
A few islands interesting for tourists are artificially connected to the Cuban mainland. Boats (old Russian hydrofoils) navigate to the biggest Cuban island Isla de la Juventud (on the south of Cuba). A few years ago two of these frontally collided - one of the captains was drunk...
There are airfields all over Cuba. If you're interested to see how is it to fly with Cubana, one of the least safe air-transport companies in the world, you can buy a plane ticket for a destination on Cuba for 50-100$. I flew with Aerogaviotta, another Cuban company (I will write about it later).
You have enough money and are willing to pay 70-100 $/day for a small car - mostly not in perfect shape? You love big holes in the pavement, inexistent traffic signs and adventure in general? Rent a car! The car is necessary to reach many destinations that are otherwise unreachable. One must be careful when parking a car because a rearview mirror is worth a lot for an average Cuban.
My taxi arrived in front of the hotel Havana Libre in Vedado. Vedado is a tourist neighborhood where I intend to find a place for the night. As hotels are too expensive for me (50-150$ per night, those <70$ are not too good anyway, and there have been thefts in the rooms), I'm looking for private rooms called *casa particular* (=private house, from now on only "casa" [kaza]). A casa is a part of someone's private home (remember, a Cuban can own only one flat or house), mostly with a separate bathroom. It's raining cats and dogs and I feel like Forrest Gump when the rain season started in the film. I'm walking around Vedado, unable to find a casa. I can't find the street names either (later I'll discover that street names, simple letters and numbers, are written not on the buildings but on the pavement)!
Tired, desperate and wet, I sit at the entrance of a house. Soon a guy arrives, sits near me and starts talking about Cuban tobacco! I don't know where to find a casa and he's enumerating the regions where tobacco is grown! I ask him how to make a phone call and he indicates a public phone and gives me a few Cuban coins for the call. But there is a guy speaking on the phone and he seems not to end the conversation soon. As the rain stopped I walk around the block and find the address of one of the casas I had in my block-note! But the entrance door of the building is locked so I can't get in. An old lady shows up and explains me that there is no free place here, but that she'll go to ask her friends. In a few minutes she's back - she found one free casa for the night. A little later another lady, the free casa owner, shows up. The casa is quite OK. Anyway, I don't care at all as long as I have a place to sleep. The price is 25$ + 3$ for the breakfast. Casas cost 15-40$, mostly 20-30$, 30$ in Havana, 20$ elsewhere. Although many Cubans speak some English or Italian, I prefer to speak Spanish; the communication with Cubans is much easier this way.
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