|Explore North America Caribbean Cuba|
The South American Trip (and a wee bit of Central) began here. Ando and I finally managed to agree on a itinerary, so I resigned from my job in Angola and made my way to South Africa. From there began the 19 hour hell flight to Cuba via New York and Mexico city. Arriving in Cuba was great - The 'Bicker and bigger-than-most-Ando' adventure would begin!! Ye Heeeeee. I finally found the Casa (House) we were staying in and linked up with Ando (ha - asleep - a tradition that would be very prevalent over this trip!!). We met Tony the owner and while we had asked for one room to cut costs we were given two. Tony then gave us the 'rules' (in broken English). He finished of by saying, 'and by the way, it is not permitted to bring girls back' He looked at Ando, and then added ´´or boys´´!! haaaaaa - We thought ´´what the hell´´ and later concluded that he must have thought maybe we were Hompta's because we wanted 1 room - bloody hell!! I guess he didnt know that backpacking means sharing (ha - the ROOM beofre u smart-alec get started!)to keep costs and that we were cheapskates maximuses! We got over that and manaed to convince him (i think/hope) that we were not that way inclined!!
Our first day and night was spent exploring the city with what time we had left and then went to a bar recommended by a dude on the plane. Well, I will rephrase that - I went to the bar and Ando slept which was his favourite pastime on the whole trip. The bar turned out to be a waste, so I went home. To do this I chose one of the wierd three wheel open taxi's that zoom around the streets - miskatke 1 - freeeeezzzzziiiinnngggg!!
The next two days we explored the city by foot, leaving from our Casa through the cemetery and on to the old part of Havana. Cuba is an amazing place and is probably one of the last vestiges of communism. It was often quite bizarre- The locals were not allowed into western hotels and for eg did not generally have access to internet. The food is crap and very little of it - you dont come here for fine food. Even at decent restaurants there is a 'no tengo' (no have) for everything you order and generally we ended up with chicken 3, peas and 2 slices of not very carrot looking carrot!! We saw the locals lining up in bread lines and while the girls like foreigners, if they talked to you on the street and saw a policeman they would be off like no tomorrow. Lucky my usual food consists of two minute noodles, so am OK in places like this!!
The locals are soooo musical and everybody is literally doing salsa all the time - on the street, in bars, in shops on the bus...... They just start dancing in the street and do that crazy wobble thing!! The Best!! Che Guevara is the Hero in Cuba and his image is everywhere - the locals refer to him reverently!
The old city of Havana is amazing and you can wander around for days. Ando and I went up and down the ´´good street´´ again and again (remember that one Ando!!!! - and u need to ask why!!). From there, we booked a trip to Veradero - the main beach resort near Havana. This worked out at about 80 USD per night and was an all inclusive deal ie drinks, food, rooms entertainment. While the area was nice, we found it such a waste and got out of the place early. It is essentially a little ´fake´ Cuba!! it is full of mainly Canadian tourists who probably never leave the resort. It is maybe OK if that is what u r after, however you may as well do it in your own country!!
We caught a bus from there to Trinidad on the other side of the island. This place was very nice, with cobbled streets etc. There was a huge nightclub built into a cave which was amazing (ando slept!!). In the market here we saw a machette attack take place next too us. I leant something that day - when Ando wants to he can run very fast, and can fit under small tables!!! haha The guy got a badly cut arm as as the attacker was running away, a cuban threw a rock that was a strike!! Right in the back - good shot!! Well, from here we caught a bus back from here to Havana for another day or two and then off to Mexico. On the way out I ate something that gave me a great start to the Mexico trip (Great!!).
We landed in Cancun and caught a local bus straight down to Tulum. I had picked up food poisoning from the last Pizza in Cuba so had a crap trip (hehe Literally). Once we arrived in Tulum, we found a Hotel which tried to rip us off so we went across the road to a backpacker place run by some Americans - great place right near the beach.
It was Australia day so Ando had beers but Steve had to occupy the toilet listening to Ando tell fake warries at the top of his voice!. The next morning we visited Tulum ruins. This was fantastic and right on the cliffs overlooking the crystal beaches below - we got there very early so missed all the crowds - fantastic - nothing scares me more than huge busloads of escorted tourists!!. We also went for a fresh water sonata dive which was awesome. He did a mini cave dive with us as well - this was the best dive I have done and am very keen to explore cave diving. Ando the oxygen bandit used all his air quickly - happens with fear so I had a bit longer!! Tulum is probably like Cancun was 25 years ago before tourism killed it - very relaxed, great beaches and a ´´chill out´´ place. Met many Americans who had arrived and just stayed on forever. Only downside was it is a bit of a low-life hippy hangout for scabby westerners - oh well, boo hoo dry ur eyes Steve.
In Mexico we travelled all around by bus seeing the ruins such as Chitzen Itza - amazing place. In one town, we met an Aussie Airline Pilot and 'Hostie with the mosty' while walking down the street (tghey had overheard gob-on-a-stick - aka Ando - talking). They were on their way to a bullfight. We taggedd along and what an experience - we were the only foreigners in the place. Great atmosphere - but felt sorry for the poor bull!! We eventually made it back to Play de Carmen for a bit of a party city and then off to Peru...see Peru Section.
article published 9/24/2004