Another early morning because of the damn birds. 😀 Since we had to catch a plane to Havana at 2:20 pm we packed our stuff after breakfast, and ordered a bicycle taxi to take us to the airport at 12:30 pm so we could be there the required one and a half hour before the flight. We did not have enough to pay for the room so we went out to get some money. There are no ATM’s in Baracoa and we had to go to the bank, but there was a long line outside. We were advised to go to the exchange office instead, so we grabbed Hans & Jorunn who was also in the line. They had already been at the exchangeoffice and did not get money there because there was a communication problem out of Baracoa. We decided to try Hotel El Castillo, built in the old fort El Castillo de Seboruco. It’s located on a hilltop, so we climed the steps up there in the heat. The view over the city was fantastic, but they didn’t have any possibilty to withdraw money. We were starting to get a bit desperate, since we knew that we did not have enough money. Hans & Jorunn that were going to stay in Baracoa for 2 more, were kind enough to lend us 50 CUC even if they were running out of money as well. We walked down to the exchange office and tried once more just in case, but still no luck.
Hans & Jorunn bought us a beer before we had to say goodbye and go back to the casa to pay before we were leaving. We ended up paying with both CUC and our last USD, since we needed a little bit of money for the bicycle taxi as well. We got both our suitcases on the bicycle and got in i the seats when a man came over and started to talk to us. When he heard we were from Norway, he started talking about his friends there who once gave him two CDs with A-Ha. He really loved them, even though he didn’t have a CD player. He had so many things he wanted to tell us, but we had to leave for the airport. Baracoa is fairly flat, but with two suitcases and two persons it was a bit hard for our taxi “driver”. In the last hill we had to jump off and he pushed the bicycle up before he asked us to jump on again and he took us the last 100 meters. The airport in Baracoa is small and the check-in was quick. We went outside again, but after a short while one of the guys from the airport came out and told us that we had to go in and through security, we did not understand that but did as he said. When we got through security there was a small shop where you could buy water and soda but nothing else. We sat for 1 hour just waiting for boarding to start.
When we arrived in Havana we did not arrive on the international airport, but a small local airport, funny enough named Playa Baracoa Aeroporto, around 1 hour outside of Havana. The Airport was only slightly bigger than the one in Baracoa and they had only one baggage trolley. Since we were the second airplane landing, we had to wait for them to empty the other plane before we got our suitcases, but it was still more efficient that a big airport so we did not complain. When we got out of the airport a taxi was waiting for us. We explained that we needed an ATM to be able to pay him, and he told us that he would stop by one in Havana. Of course the ATM he stopped at did not work. He drove us to Lordes and said that since he knew Lordes we could pay him tomorrow. The first thing on our minds was to get money and since we knew that there was a big “tourist” bank with several ATM’s in Calle Obispo (Tourist street) we went there and finally got money! And when we had money we could go and grab a beer. Perfect! We went back to Lordes, Gunnhild ran trough the shower before we had a Cuba Libre at the casa. Since we had an invitation to eat at La Taberna, we went there and found Ernesto. He booked us a table for the night before he took us to his artist friend Jorly. When we got there we were welcomed with open arms. Jorly, his wife and his mother were all there and he showed us a lot of his work on a computer (installations, hotel lobbies and paintings) before we were shown up to the second floor to see some of his work that he had there. The work was impressive, but too big for us to bring home (and too expensive). After the look we got all his digital pictures and we were allowed to print them back home for free. That didn’t feel right, so we left some money on the table, even though he refused. When we were about to go to dinner Jorly came with a gift to us, an original painting that he signed and packed so it would not be damaged on the trip back.
We got back to La Taberna just in time for the show, and to have the best view possible to the band, Ernesto had set up our seats inside of the bar! He told us he had gotten special permission from the owner. We quickly realised that this was a very touristy place, with no locals in the audience. But the band was really good with several of the members from Buena Vista Social Club, so there were plenty of locals standing outside the windows listening in. We were served a mojito and then a really good starter, and the tourists on the other side of the bar were all looking at us, wondering how we managed to end up there. Funny! We had earlier agreed with Ernesto that we wanted him to select the main course for us, based on what he considered to be his speciality. That was seafood, so we ordered a bottle of white wine, and got a large dish with a lot of different sea food. Really good! Ernesto came out and told us that he had made our food personally, and he was really happy that we loved it. The other guests had plenty of mojitos, and during the last part of the show most of them were standig up, clapping and dancing. Some dancers were also part of the show, and we were really happy to be safely on the other side as they started bringing tourists to the front for “dance lessons”. When the show was over they brought us the bill. 14 CUC for the wine, and the other one just said Ernesto. We did not expect that!
When Ernesto finished in the kitchen, he took us to see their apartment which was just next door. We met Ernesto’s daughter, and found Hanne’s (Vilma’s daughter) room very charming with a lot of pictures from Norwegian fairytales. They had art by Jorly on the walls and a very nice balcony. We still had one more friend we wanted to meet in Havana, Lily at Las Estaciones, so we agreed with Ernesto that he would meet us there as soon as he could change out of his chef uniform. Lily was so happy when she saw us and hardly left our table all evening. We had a really great time and talked a lot with Ernesto and Lily mainly in Spanish. At closing time Lily brought us the bill, but said that it was no problem to order more afterwards. Time just flew by, and suddenly it was 3 am. We said goodbye to Ernesto and Lily, sent our regards to Vilma and went back to the casa for a few hours sleep. As always we had to knock on the door, and Lourdes husband opened for us smiling as always. After way too much food the last few days, we wanted just a small breakfast before we left the next day, so we asked if it was possible to skip the omelet, the bread, the ham, the cheese ++ and just have some fresh fruit. That was of course no problem so we went to sleep happy after yet another fantastic but surreal day.