Woke up, walked to the outskirts of town. I've walked from east to west.
Tried hitching a ride from outside of the city. No takers. I was just down the street from the bus station. Decided to walk to the bus station. On the way, a horse carriage driver offered to take me to a place where I could hitch a ride. I climbed in. After a short ride, basically back to where I'd been hitching, he asked me for twenty pesos. I took out twenty Cuban pesos, which is as much as it would cost to get all the way to my next destination, Ciego de Avila. The horse person said no, twenty CUC (equivalent to twenty American dollars). That's ridiculous, I answered. After some bickering, he asked me to get down from the carriage. Then he offered to take me all the way to Ciego. I scoffed. How fast does this horse go? It would take too long. The horse person persisted in asking for money. I thought it would be interesting to go that far, but doubted the horse was fast enough. The horse driver said it would take two or three hours, for 80 km, which I think is far faster than a horse goes. After a short ride, he said we were there, if I heard him right, which we obviously weren't. After he threatened to call the police, I called him on the bluff. Finally, I convinced him to give back some of the money.
BTW I prefer the Cuban gesture for hitchhiking, in case I didn't already mention it. Instead of a thumb up, which is tiring, it's a flat hand, palm down, flapping.
Now in Ciego de Avila. Keep on going tomorrow. Hitching rides!
1 c per km.
This area, in the center of Cuba, reminds me of Texas, around Houston. I've seen numerous Houston hats, some rodeo stuff, pickup trucks, etc. The food reminds me of barbecue.
Deciding whether to camp out, or rent a place. Camp in the city, plus after warning by immigration I'm worried about deportation/etc. Places here look overpriced, unappealing.
In this city, Ciego de Avila, I've seen numerous Canadian flags, and just now Quebecois flag, especially on bicitaxis (bike taxis).
Decided to make a reservation. Why? Because I'm worried about Cuban immigration, just want to get through Cuba, leave ASAP.
After making the reservation at the wifi spot, went for a walk, to watch the sunset. Found an attractive area by the train tracks, took some photos.
As I was deciding when to head back to the park to see if the host had responded to my request for an address (which was already supposed to be there, but this host as w/ many in Cuba had not put the address) - a group of train station security people came. Asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was taking some photos. They asked if I was a foreigner. I said yes. They didn't know whether to believe me!
In most other countries, I think that the train security people, would have seen that I was a foreigner taking pictures, and just asked me to move on, maybe issuing a warning.
The group of security people stood around. They called the police, who apparently weren't answering. After a while, they asked me to walk over to a different area. We waited some more. People came by. It became a confab.
Cubans seem to think in groups, slowly. There were at least eight people hanging around, most of them just chatting. Some didn't have any uniform, I'm not sure what their positions were. Later, the police did arrive.
The police asked to see my passport. Despite the lengthy wait, the train security people hadn't taken that basic step. I showed my passport.
The police called in for a car. After much confusion, finally a patrulla (patrol) car arrived. Some of us piled in.
The police talked informally. If I understood, one of them mentioned issuing a ticket to a driver for having two women in the vehicle. Another cop nudged me to look at a woman riding a bicycle.
After driving for a while, with no indication of what was happening, I asked where we were going. They said they'd drive me to the police station for some interviewing, then to the hostel where I had a reservation.
We arrived at the police station. (The first station, they mentioned, I think the main police station in the city.) There, they invited me to take a seat on a waiting bench in the lobby. Someone at the front desk would call me.
Another person was also there, it sounded like he too had some ridiculous non-issue turned into an issue. At one point, he stood up and walked outside. The police asked him where he was going. Returning into the building, he said he thought he'd forgotten the keys in his vehicle.
A few other people were being questioned by the police. Didn't seem like much trouble, but one person did seem somewhat violent.
I kept on sitting around. After a while, I wondered whether they had forgotten about me. By now it was approaching ten o'clock. The sun had set at eight.
Because I had not had a chance to check the wifi again, I still did not know whether there would be a place to stay. Otherwise, what? Camp out, risking another visit from immigration? Ask to stay in the police station, risking more obnoxious wastes of time, or worse?
After a while longer, someone finally arrived. A woman from immigration. She and another person, not wearing a uniform so I'm not sure whether from police or immigration or what, invited me into a room for interrogation. We talked for a while.
The immigration woman asked me what I was doing in the country, what I did for work, and a bunch of other questions. It was quite comparable to my previous interview with immigration.
After I mentioned my reservation, they called the phone number I had for the place. No one answered. They tracked down the place by a number of phone calls, finding that it was already full!
So, the immigration woman took me over to a nearby hostel, where they let me in.
Now it's 10:51 PM. Going to sleep soon.
If the train security people, then the police, then immigration, had not gone on this wild goose chase, then I would probably have failed to find a place to stay, maybe camped out, maybe gotten in more trouble.
If the previous immigration people had not gone on their wild goose chase, then I may not have started using buses, maybe slowing down.
Often, the things that seem like problems become opportunities.
Paternalistic, or in this case maternalistic, society.
Even the bureaucrats get annoyed by the bureaucracy. (while waiting)