It felt like we were only back in Bayamo for a split-second before we were on a bus to a new city. A new place to explore, a new group of Cubans who can share their lives with us! The buses in Cuba have been surprisingly comfortable. Chinese made, they have reclining seats and AC consistently cranked down to below freezing…allowing us to finally make good use of our Patagonias, “Gonias”, or “Pattys”. After a “brief” 5 hour ride we made it to our lay-over city…Camagüey! Our casa fit all 12 of us and we quickly settled into this new place. After summiting Turquino, we all had aches and pains, knots in our backs and many other physicals ailments. So naturally when the casa offered massages, many of us forked over the 8 cuc. Camagüey was a beautiful, clean city and the first place we saw a large number of tourists both American and European. After a brief 2 day stop, we hopped back on a bus, for an excruciating 9 hour bus ride to Havana. We visited the capital to re-new our Visas.
It was a lot colder during our stay here than we expected, but with our casa particulares by the Malecón (sea side), we enjoyed time watching the waves and playing ultimate frisbee and shuttlecock. One of our nights in Havana there conveniently was a free concert of the very famous Cuban band, Buena Fe, just a few blocks from where we were staying. Here we got a better idea of what the Cuban youth is like and how they spend their free time. We also had the opportunity to better explore the city with a scavenger hunt created by our wonderful Comandante of the week, Ally. It was a nice preview for the future two weeks we’ll get to spend in Havana after our time in Viñales.
After what felt almost like a three day tease in Havana, we packed our bags again (we’ve all got bag packin’ down to a science now) and piled into a makeshift caravan that barely fit all twelve of us. To make matters even better all our Spotify’s got canceled at the exact same time. “Due to inactivity”….whatever that means. We had an interesting ride to Viñales. Once we got there we, were amazed by the sheer number of Americans. This place is beautiful beyond comprehension, the pictures only tell part of the story. Smoking hand rolled cigars dipped in honey (just like Che did) and hiking through the many Mogotes (limestone mountains) and watching the annual fashion show are just a few of the things we have already done in our first two days here in Viñales. We included a shmorgas-borg of photos for ya’ll to feast your thirsty eyes on.
– Grant and Zoe