Sunday 6 March
After the hustle and bustle of Havana (previous post) not to mention the exhaust fumes from riding in the open top cars, we are off to Cienfuegos for an overnight before heading further South East to Trinidad.
We were collected on time by our driver, who speaks very limited English, for the three hour journey to our next stop. The Speedo in his taxi is not working so how he manages to slow down to the right speed as he passes the various police checks, I have no idea.
Drive out of the built up area of Havana and into countryside past mostly flat lands with occasional agriculture and hamlets.
The Autopsista Nacional 1 is quiet, wide (3+) lanes and empty as we probably pass 25 cars, lorries and coaches with the same number passing us before we turn off about 20 minutes from our destination although we pass two coaches broken down with passengers disgorged and standing in shade.
The deeper we get into the countryside, the more horses & traps we pass or pass us by on the other side of the road and generally, from the outside, the houses look in reasonable condition.
Turn off for a comfort break at Aguada de Pasajeros, an we are now on smaller roads with more agriculture evident, rice and sugar beet growing and chickens roaming freely but still virtually no traffic.
Pony and traps in abundance and houses single story, as good as before. Police out in force at many locations ensuring traffic doesn’t speed.
Whether this is a better area than Havana, I don’t know but there is a slightly greater % of newer cars than before, but still a fair smattering of oldies and quite a few cyclists out for a Sunday ride.
Our hotel for the night, Casa Verde, is at the end of a promontory opposite a big hotel, the Jagua.
We are able to use the Jagua’s eating facilities which is just as well as our hotel has none, other than an attached sea front bar & restaurant where we have lunch.
Our room is No.1 on the ground floor, dark and green and we have already waited what seemed like 15 minutes for anyone to attend to us on arrival.
After a walk around the Jagua we visit a lovely building, called Palacio de Valle which sports fantastic marbled ceilings and floors, a spiral staircase to a roof terrace with live music when you get there.
Once out we decide on a rickshaw type ride quoted at us as 5CUC but end up parting with 25 as the operator insists he told us it was 5 per person per km and that it was a 5km journey. He wants another 25! We refuse and walk away, he doesn’t follow.
Stroll down the wide street with the few market stalls still open (it is Sunday and most shops are closed), the houses in the street are not too bad, it seems like they are being looked after quite well.
End up at Plaza de Armas which looks like the main square where a few tour groups are being led around. Picturesque. Taxi back costs 10 CUC + 1 CUC tip.
Try internet in Jagua hotel but nothing working so get money back for card bought.
Sit near pool to read and do blog, spending some time talking to a Dane who had a few problems in his Havana hotel with lack of water for showers etc.
There is live music near Casa Verde, hope it doesn’t go on too late. I was a bit concerned about security at the hotel as it has very poor locks on the big doors and no curtains to block out the hall lights and no reception staff.
Dinner tonight in the Hotel Jagua which is very good value at 40CUC including 2 glasses of wine and a soft drink.
Buffet food is not overly hot but adequately warm and is an “eat all you can” buffet, we could have eaten far more than we did.
Internet now working and we catch up on most of the last 6 days of internet although as Watford lost two matches it was a bit depressing.
Disco from a few blocks away kept going until about 12:30 and the lights in the hotel were turned out at about 11pm. Despite this we do have a reasonably good night’s sleep before our next adventure – to Trinidad.