paulfraser (paulfraser) wrote,

I'm tired of the city life

So close... so close... we now have more posts on Cuba than days spent there. Sprinting, sprinting to the end.

On the third last day, we took the tourist bus, realised we had taken the wrong tourist bus, and ended up crossing the harbour and taking a scenic trip along the northern coast. The beaches are beautiful, but we didn't have time to properly explore, so Salerno is still the last beach day. Getting the correct bus, we went to the Plaza de la Revolución, the Cuban answer to Red or Tienanmen Squares. It is here that the famous Che mural is, and the not-so-famous Camilo mural. The Che is fine for the folks who work in that building, as it fills an otherwise empty wall. The Camilo, not so much, as it is bolted onto the outside of an existing building, blocking windows. Also, his cowboy hat is tilted back so much he looks like an ayatollah; maybe that's why Cuba is still on the US list of State Sponsors of terror: the yanks are too lazy to check out who the picture actually is. These take up the north side, while the the south side is dominated by the José Martí Memorial, which has a ho-hum museum (Maybe JM was like Father once explained Neil Diamond was - you had to be there) but, being the highest point in the city (I think), the observation deck gives a nice view, somewhat hampered by very dirty windows. Behind the memorial is Party Headquarters, and owing to the wildlife on the memorial tower, the vultures are circling the Party, but in the literal sense, not the metaphorical that the yanks might like.

We didn't see much else that day, as another error in bus selection dropped us off in the wrong part of town, which led to a slight disagreement (read hysterical screaming fit) between myself and the lovely Naomi on the Havana waterfront. She went home, while I continued to fall prey to the poorly organised tourist bus for a few more hours, eventually getting back well after dark and with very sore feet from many a kilometer of walking.

On the penultimate day, having mended bridges somewhat, and somewhat over being in the city, we attempted to take the Hershey Train, the only electric train on the island which was built by the company of the same name before the revolution, on a scenic trip to some town north east of the city. We got up brutally early, and got a taxi to the Havana end of the line, a bleak little-nowhere station, in time for the 8:45 departure, the first of five each, according to a certain book. But, there are only three in actuality. And, the 8:45 wasn't running that day. Being told to return at 12:30, we ferried across the harbour and then across to another point, making a V-shaped journey, to the little town of Regla, which is interesting as a place to see the smeering of Catholicism with African tribal religions to make Santería. The large following of this religion in those parts is the likely reason we saw the intestines and later the back of a dog floating in the harbour. The priests of this religion are not exactly above earthly things we found, and are as likely to try to scam the odd peso out of you as anyone else. This is how we got a 'guide', who did afford us the opportunity to experience parts of the town we would not have otherwise, including a drink made from raw sugarcane, which tasted like sweetened lawn clippings. He did however ask two pesos for admission to a museum which mysteriously was not open but we couldn't get the money back as we needed to pay it to come onto the grounds. Right. But, on the flip side, he told us to use national currency on the ferry, and thus saved us six pesos. Being that he was still a bullshitter, I would suggest caution at Regla, and my having procured his services reignited the blue of the previous day.

While there, we saw the other of the two Lenins, a less impressive affair, and then rushed back to catch the 12:30. Sadly, the 12:30 was also not running that day, but we were advised to return for the final train at 8 pm. My tongue sweetly said “no thankyou”, my mind said something a little more stiff.

Thus, we crossed the harbour by ferry for the fifth time, saw the Russian Orthodox Church on the south side, built recently in an effort to renormalise relations with the new order in Russia, and then caught a funky little motorbike taxi with a fiberglass shell along the coast, which delivered us unto our next adventures.
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