Travel Blog for Fredrik and Gunnhild

Santiago de Cuba 3

Another slow morning. We spent hours just sitting on the balcony watching the daily life. We live a bit outside of the city centre in a residential area, so our neighbour is selling vegetables from his porch, the bakery up the street is very popular, kids are playing with kites from the roof terraces and rush by on home made kick scooters. Ladies wearing hair curlers walk by, people selling flowers, fruit and all kinds of things shout out what they have. After breakfast we did some blogging in notepad and selected some pictures for our blog. We walked a different route towards the city centre, and stumbled upon a group of men preparing a pig for tomorrows traditional barbeque. We stopped at a very local bar for a beer. It was cheap but full of flies, and they only had beers unknown to us (brewed by Bucanero and tasted almost nothing). We tried to find Moncada Museum & Barracs, but since it was Sunday everything was closed, and we’re not completely sure we found the correct buildings. We continued through a lot of small streets, and found several local markets, where people were selling fruit and vegetables, some had a couple of cigarette packs, a few batteries, some hair bands, a pen or two, plumbing equipment etc. In several areas we saw a lot of destruction after hurricane Sandy. A lot of trees were gone, some were still lying there, while other places had been cleaned up and new trees had been planted. Several houses were damaged, and we also saw a couple that were completely crushed. No roofs or walls left, just a mattress left in the corner. So sad!

We tried to find somewhere to eat lunch, and ended up in the terrace bar of Hotel Casa Granda. It’s a touristy place, but with shade and great views over Parque Céspedes. We should have known that eating here was not a good idea though. The pizza was expensive and did not taste good at all. After cooling down in the shade a bit, we walked around trying to find a store where we could buy what we needed for New Year’s Eve, but it seemed that everything in the city center was closed. We stopped for a beer at Patio los dos Abuelos, and walked towards Hotel Melia again. On the way there we found an small store that was open and bought two bottles of “expensive” rum (7-8 CUC each). In a small street close to Hotel Melia they were building a stage and playing loud music. People were dancing in the street and drinking rum on their balconies. One of they offered us a taste. Guess we’re good at finding the streets where hardly any tourists go. We spent one hour on the internet, and that was just enough time to copy the text and pictures into the blog and post a link on Facebook. We didn’t have time left to check emails, Facebook or the news, and that was fine. It’s actually quite nice to be (almost) completely offline.

Back at the casa we continued with our favourite activity in Santiago de Cuba, drinking rum and watching the street life from our balcony. A bit up the street a few guys were trying to fix their car in the dark, so Fredrik went over to give them a flashlight. They seemed a bit confused, but soon the entire family came out to look at the car and the flashlight. Fun! We also shared a bit of our rum with the grandfather in our casa, and gave him the rest of the bottle a bit later in the evening. Our closest neighbours were a family with the most beautiful little girl, and later in the evening we had to go down to give her some hairbands and a small flashlight as well. We took some pictures of her and the other kids/youth in the street, and then her grandfather (we believe) came out and wanted to show us something in his house. In the backyard he had a rooster, a hen and a goose. When we got back out, the girl’s flashlight was being studied by the other kids/youth, so we went back up to find some for them as well. Back on our balcony we put on some music, and noticed that the kids were trying to listen. Instead of playing for the entire neighbourhood (it was getting late), we brought the cell phone and the speakers down to the street. More people joined us and we had a great time playing European and American music, playing with the flashlights and trying to communicate in Spanish. A boy (Pedro) from a bit further up the street came down and brought his guitar. He was really good and had a beautiful voice. The others were clapping and singing along. Another great night in Calle Fernandez Marconé!