I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. It’s like I need to go on holiday, which is a joke considering I only just got back from a 12 day road trip in Cuba. It must be the jet lag playing tricks on me.
So, here’s a map to give you an idea of the journey me & my amigos took:
Now, I didn’t drive on the trip, but , I learnt some important things about driving etiquette on Cuban roads:
- Cyclists are El Presidentes on the rural roads. They have right of way and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. (Unless you overtake!)
- Horse drawn carriages are Kings on rural roads. They also have right of way and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. (Unless you overtake!)
- Although the dogs in Cuba have nothing in terms of being revered like Cows in India, I double dare you to drive over one when it’s crossing the road!
- If you’re thinking of relying on sign posts to get you to your next destination, you might want to rethink that strategy. For some weird and misguided reason, there’s an acute shortage of proper sign posts. I mean: what’s up with that?!?!?
- While driving in a Tourist Hired Car, you stick out like a sore thumb. (Tourist Number Plates start with a ‘T’). And so you also don’t forget you’re guest, local drivers on the other side flash their headlights at you. (I’m not sure how true that is, but I’m going to stick with my theory!!) Cubano people just know when tourists are in town, even without a Yank accent!
I had a really, really good time in Cuba. Yes, there were some annoying aspects, especially with guys appearing out of nowhere offering you ‘the best Cuban Cigars in Town‘, or people trying to get more ‘C.U.C’s (Converted pesos!) for any reason they can out of you. I don’t blame them, really. Although it’s a Socialist Nation, poverty is out there big time, and people have to hassle anyway they can. Makes you appreciate how well we have it in the West.
Oh, a couple of more tips and observations before I put the pictures up:
- They love their Pork in Cuba. If you happen to be a Vegetarian, then you are fresh out of luck.
- Hot water is not a constant. Come to think of it, nor were the hot drinks most of the time or the showers.
- The coffee is damn good!
- Some hotels are mirror images of Old Soviet Bureaucratic offices.
- I don’t drink or smoke, but you have GOT to try Bucanero beer and puff a Cubano cigar.
- Should anyone offer to sell you a 25 year old rum, you best run for the hills!
- You have to try and eat at least at one ‘Paladar’.
- Use a Spanish Latin phrase book. Take an European Spanish phrase book with you and suffer the consequences.
- Let sleeping dogs lie. Nuff said.
- Apparently, the Calle L is the popular Coppelia Ice cream parlour in Havana which is also supposedly the world’s biggest. Whatever the claim, don’t believe the hype!
- Spend less time in Havana, but more time in the towns. You have more of an authentic feel of the lands.
- For the love of God, avoid resorts!! But if you really want to slob it up, then have 8 CUCs ready for every night you stay!
- Have more CUCS!!
- Go to ‘Papa’s (Ernest Hemmingway) old haunt, the El Floridita, just for the drinks.
- Of all the places we went to, Santiago de Cuba wins hands down. If you find yourself in Santa Clara, Check out Che’s final resting place.
- It’s one of the very rare countries that the people are impressed if you’re from Nigeria, especially if you’re Yoruba!
- If it’s a cool hotel you want with flamenco dancing, outstanding food and great staff, then I highly recommend El Meson D la Flota, at Plaza de San Francisco, Havana. If you want something, affordable & homely, then try Hector & Ely’s B&B. (if you want more info, drop me a line!)
- Watch out for professional ‘posers’. If you take their pictures, be prepared to part with some CUCs.
Ok, enough with the chatting. Here are some of my favourite pictures from the trip:
A big thanks to Elmo, Baba, ‘The Accountant’, My laughing buddy, and of course, Iya, for making this a memorable trip.