Well, this is the last of the Cuba posts! Kind of exciting to be moving on to other things next week! A big reminder that my show for ’150K From Here’ is opening this Thursday, May 17 – 7-11PM at Cre8ery in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. I hope to see you there!
A few more casas in today’s post. And next week I believe is the last of the Cuba posts. Kind of sad, as it is such a beautiful country, and yet now it’s an opportunity to share some more recent stuff. I’ve been working on a new website for keyfoto.com, and I am thinking that once that is done, I may tackle a new template design for my blog. This one is alright, but not exactly what I want. So stay tuned for changes!
The last 3 nights of our trip were spent in Cuba’s famous resort town of Varadero. We stayed at an all-inclusive at the very end of the Varadero peninsula. It was a very nice hotel, but after the 3 weeks we had spent driving, staying in casas, eating amazing Cuban food, and struggling from time to time – the hotel seemed way too North Americanized and over the top. I highly encourage anyone who goes to resorts to step off of them, and take in some of the country’s real culture. The food we had in the hotel was bland and not very good. Yet the food we had all throughout Cuba (gas station pizza aside!) was amazing. One of my favourite dishes were baked plantain chips. I’ve made them here at home a few times. The only new fruit I really liked (I know, tropical island and I’m not a big “fruit person”) was passionfruit, and I haven’t been able to find it since returning to Manitoba.
I was sick for the 3 nights we were at the hotel, and by that point I kind of wanted to just get home. Being sick while traveling makes me homesick. I want my own bed and my dogs. I’m a wimp, I know! With me being sick, we didn’t venture very far form the hotel. We went to the Centro de Conveciones Plaza América (an American style mall) to go to the cigar shop and buy some last minute souvenirs that we had yet to find. Had I been feeling better I would have liked to have spent a day walking around the actual town of Varadero, but the Universe had decided otherwise.
The main reason we stayed in a hotel and not in another casa was that I really wanted to go sailing, and it made more sense money-wise to stay in a hotel that offered sailing. But the 3 days we were there were too windy and the hotel wasn’t taking boats out. So, yet again, Murphy’s Law kicked my butt. The whole trip had been like that though. Anything minor that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Right down to the last day before we were headed to the airport. We had travelled the whole island in a loop for 3 weeks, and on the last day we had a screw in the tire of the car. So, Mike quickly changed it and we were off to the airport. But it was such a kick in the pants, as this kind of stuff seemed to happen to us on the whole trip. Even while we were in the plane waiting to take-off, there was a delay as someone on the plane was sick and they had to get a doctor and eventually took the passenger off. To us, it was: “Of course! Why wouldn’t that happen???”
Originally when we got back from Cuba, we were both tired of travelling and not quite over all the frustrations of our trip. Many people couldn’t understand why we had difficulties or didn’t enjoy it 100%. But they weren’t there on the trip with us. They didn’t experience the ups & downs we did. And that is all part of travelling. Since being home, my hindsight on my trip is being seen through rosier coloured glasses. I now know all the things I wouldn’t do, and all the things I would. Cuba was definitely a learning trip, and for that, I am grateful!
So here are a few photos of the typical Cuban wares we picked up to take home, while staying in Varadero:
The above was the last photo I took in Cuba, sitting in the Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport near Varadero.
Next week I will start some theme posts of photos from the casas I took.
Here are a couple photos from the last driving leg of our trip. I have no idea where this exactly is, other than somewhere between Morón and Varadero. It was a long 8 hour drive day, and it was our last real travel day in Cuba. I stopped by the roadside to take some photos of some farms while the sunshine was peeking aout between storm clouds. Next week is a few photos from Varadero, and then I will make some posts with the series of photos I took of the casas we stayed in.
And a reminder that my solo show, ’150K From Here’ is happening in a little over 4 weeks!!! Almost all the images are printed and being mounted! May 17, 7-11Pm @ Cre8ery in Winnipeg! See the show write-up here.
As I wrote in a previous post, we spent 4 nights in Baracoa, 2 nights in one casa, and 2 nights in another. I was ill the first 2 days, so we didn’t get up to much for those days. Although we did take a walk to one of the gas stations for a coke or ice cream each day, and went and sat on the malecón wall and watched the waves. On our third day, on advice from Adrian our casa owner, we drove 30km east of Baracoa to the Yumurí River. We had just wanted to chill, maybe sit at the beach, but when we got to Yumurí, it was chaos! There were a couple cars ahead of us, and probably 50 Cubans all trying to get people to take a boat tour down the river. As I still wasn’t sure about the stability of my stomach, I didn’t think a boat ride would be a great idea. So, we back-tracked down the road a bit and found a nice vacant stretch of beach. It was a gorgeous day, so we plunked ourselves down and took in some saltwater scenery. The sand at this beach was black, and what is called “dog’s tooth” grain. (Meaning the grains of sand are larger.) It was a bit rough on the feet after awhile, but I can’t say I really minded. I finally had a chance to take some photos and really worked this stretch of beach (or so I thought). 5 minutes into my photo fun, my husband was approached by a couple of Cubans asking for money, food, clothes, whatever they could get. Mike politely said no, but they weren’t taking the hint, and they sat down with him and started asking for our shoes, and for us to take them back to where we were staying so we could give them money. After about 5-10 minutes of hassle, Mike look like he had enough, and I quickly packed up my stuff and we headed back to Baracoa.
I originally didn’t write much about my Cuba experiences, for fear that my audience may not understand where I was coming from. However, by not telling my story, it can make it impersonal and dull. So I am trying to share some more details of our trip, but I don’t think I can explain a lot of it, you just had to be there. In a country like Cuba, as a tourist, you will be hassled non-stop for money, clothes, food, transportation, anything and everything. (And when I say clothes, I mean even the ones you are wearing.) It got rather frustrating dealing with this every day for 3 weeks. I’m not a big people person (I like individual people, and I have social skills) but I don’t like crowds. I like to blend in and observe as much as possible, but I found it fairly impossible to do so in Cuba.
All that aside, here are some of the photos I took:
There aren’t many photos from Baracoa itself. At least not ones that are mine (Mike was pretty handy with his point & shoot). I was quite sick while we were in Baracoa, and spent a good 2 days wearing a path on the floor to the bathroom. Oh, the joys of travel! We had originally planned to spend 2 nights in Santiago de Cuba, but we had been finding the cities stressful and thought an extra 2 days in a beach town would be a little nicer. So we spent a very long day driving from Bayamo all the way to Baracoa. One of the highlights of the drive was a respite from the Caribbean tunes, by picking up on the U.S. Guantánamo Bay naval base radio. The views of the highway from Guantánamo to Bayamo were insane. I really wanted to get out and take photos in the mountains of the cloud forests, they were low and full as it was raining. However, the only points where you could pull over on the mountain highway, were jammed with Cubans trying to sell various wares and foods, and there was no room to stop. Given the rainy conditions we also just wanted to keep going and get to Baracoa, as it was a really long driving day. We did stop at one spot before the mountains (near Tacre I believe), and here are the results:
As I mentioned, there aren’t really any photos from Baracoa itself, but next week I will be featuring our day trip to Boca de Yumurí (just east of Baracoa). There aren’t many Cuba posts left, as we’ve entered into the last week of our trip’s photos.
Alrighty. So here is the last batch from our stint in Playa Larga. These were taken on the day we travelled form Playa Larga to Trinidad. These may look somewhat familiar, as they were taken along the stretch of coast between Playa Larga and Playa Girón.
I woke up early one morning (well that’s a bit of a lie – I was up early every morning, but I would lay in bed for awhile. I definitely wasn’t used to being woken by roosters, thus I don’t think I slept past 6:00 the entire Cuba trip). I took a walk down to the coconut grove to catch a sunrise. I was pleasantly surprised to be joined by a number of fisherman. We smiled, nodded and enjoyed the sunrise together.
Next week will be the last posting of pictures from Playa Larga. Then it’s off to Trinidad & Topes de Collantes.