Monday, May 27, 2013

Playa Maria La Gorda and back to Vienales (13.05.2013 ‐ 19.05.2013)

With enough (too much?) time on our hands we decided to head further south­west to Playa Maria La Gorda. Patrick wanted to make his Open Water Certification here, but they didn’t have any guide books left, Cuba!
I bougth a five dives package for 195CHF/US$ and Patrick came along on two shallow dives. There wasn’t much to do here beside enjoying the sunsets with a bottle of rum and a cigar in front of our room. Thats how we met Sophie and Cedric from Geneva, from which we inherited a couple of fake Cohibas, thx again!

As the hotel was quite in bad shape and the food quite crap we left after three nights and headed back to Vienales. This time we were better prepared and headed to a casa we’ve seen before. Sadly/Luckily it was occupied and we settled for the one next door. 
Which turned out super nice! Huge patio, with sunchairs and a big fountain/small pool. We skipped the swimming in the pool but enjoyed the Piña Coladas and the super tasty food! One of the nicest casas so far!
This time we rented two bikes and drove around in the valley. It was quite a lovely ride, espacially with the stops to drink a Mojito on each possibilty ^^
The next day we headed to Cayo Levisa. White sand and nothing to do all day =) 
Still Cayo Juita was nicer ;)

That saturday evening we went out to party in Vienales! We bought a bottle of rum and a bottle of Tu­Kola for not even 10CHF/US$ in the local disco ;)

The next day was all hang­over treatment till we took a cab to Soroa in the afternoon.


From Matanzas to Vienales (08.05.2013 ‐ 12.05.2013)

Patrick and I took the train from Matanzas to Habana, at 2.80CHF/US$ a bargain ;) The bumpy ride was quite fun although we weren’t too sad when we finally arrived in Habana 4 hours later. As I wasn’t fit at all, having around 38° fever and Patrick still a bit jet lagged we skipped the party and went sleeping early. The next day we had to get up early to catch the bus to Vienales.

Why do all the busses have to leave so early?!
In Vienales we got a recommended casa for 15CHF/US$ the night, were we stayed three nights. We did the typical touristy thing and went horseback ridding =) After four hours with some stops to drink a coco loco (coconut split open with added rum and honey), visit a tobacco farm (where we didn’t buy anything to the great dissapointment of the farmer) and a went swimming in a murky lake we were quite glad to walk on our own two legs again.

In the evening we met two german sisters we knew from the bus, Sosîa and Esther. So we shared a bottle of rum and decided to share a cab the next day to Cayo Juita. Cayo Juita turned out to be the nicest beach I’ve seen so far in Cuba. Endless white sand and bleached drift wood lying in the surf, definatly a must see.
Also there weren’t too many people around and we went to lay under the shade of a three in the sand, so we skipped the charge for shade and sun chair.


Isla de Juventud, back and forth (03.05.2013 ‐ 07.05.2013)

Having read that the best diving is supposed to be on the Isla de Juventud, I decided to spend the rest of my days till my buddy arrives there. After a short night in a grubby casa in Habana I took the bus and ferry to the island. As all the dive spots are on the other side of the island, I had to stay in the hotel there. At least I got a nice huge bungalow with a clean bath and proper water pressure ;)

The first day there was too much wind to go diving so I got to know the other six hotel guests, a group from Brazil. The next day a swiss couple arrived and we could go diving, which was okay, not super great but okay. So we were 9 hotel guests for probably three times as many staff and around 100 rooms and bungalows.
As Jonas and his five girls would fly to Habana and I hoped also to find a place on the plane there was no more diving. When we arrived at the tiny airport the security dude told me the airplane was full and if I wanted to fly the next morning at 7 I had to buy a ticket in the tourist office wich was all ready closed and would open at 8 in the morning... Which was probably full as well as the plane only cost little more than the ferry/bus combo.

Having met a german couple on the way to the island and again on the beach, they told me to go draw a number for the ferry. Thats how I ended up at 5:30 in the morning the next day in a stuffy hall with my tiny paper and the number 547. They would start at 238 this morning and counting up till the boat was full. But today there were only 20 places left! The rest of the 200 places were booked up 3 months in advance.

As everybody just kept sitting, I waited also and around 9am they decided there would be another boat the next day! Again they were counting up numbers, but luckily many hadn’t showed up or given up earlier. The last call was for numbers till 560 so I barely made it on the boat. It only took me six hours to buy me a ticket to leave the island...

The rest of the day I spent on the beach and drank the best mojito (and also one of the cheapest, 1.50CHF/US$) so far. Actually I drank several of them and the barkeeper kept coming over with the bottle to fill the glas again =)

So again, I got up early the next day (with a little hangover) and thought I would maybe even make it in time to the airport to meet my friend. But the 8:00 on the ticket wasn’t the time of departure but the time of “boarding”. Just as on the way to the island I had to show my passport several times, get my pocketknife and toeclipper out of the bag (for which I would get another piece of paper to collect them again on arrival, from a guy wearing a hard hat and swimming west inside a building o_O), get my bags scanned and wait for some hours more. The boat this time wasn’t a fast one though, five hours later, frozen to death at 17° we arrived to learn the busses for Habana would arrive in two and a half hour! As I had to meet my friend in Matanzas anyway, I asked around and got a unofficial cab to there directly. An hour later I was at the hotel bar and completely exhausted.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friends - Patrick

Patrick, aka Winston, is an old buddy and fellow Cuba Libre enthusiast. When he heard I would travel to the homeland of rum he decided to join me for sure. We had some great times on Fidels island before flying over to the Yucatan peninsula. He got shortly after certified as a scuba diver came with us to explore the cenotes in Tulum.