Cuba blog May 1, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:44

Tough day.


Walked more, maybe 25 km, that seems like my average for around 8-9 am to 6-7 pm.


International worker's day?

Feeling sick, maybe mango, maybe something else I ate.


Bikers, horses… people gave me mangoes…

Recently I've seen a yard with turkeys & piglets eating mangoes that had fallen to the ground.

Grow wild!

Vomited, some mango came up.

Sick, sore, tired, found a spot to sleep. Right by the side of the road. Some passersby handed me more mangoes.


The place was small, covered in spiky plants. I made removed some of the spiky branches to make the area more comfortable.


More passersby on horses. They said not to sleep there, instead at a house nearby. They showed me the house, introduced me to the resident. I set up my gear to go to sleep.


In the middle of the night, a group of people came by, shining flashlights in my face. It was immigration, with a nurse. They asked me if I was OK. I said yes. They said that it was illegal to sleep there. Even though I had permission from the resident, they said that my Cuban permit only let me sleep in hostels or hotels. They drove me back to the city, which they said was the only way. In a bureaucratic office w/ legacy equipment, they wrote a report. They required me to stay at a specific house, which they said would cost $20-25, much of my hard-won cash. Some of the rest I presume I will have to spend on a bus. Inside, I negotiated a price of $20, including breakfast. The hosts offered me coffee, and said that I could have as many of the mangoes that had fallen from the tree as I wanted!



Cuba blog April 30, 2019 continuation

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:44

After some planning this morning, went for a walk. Going to the Cadeca to exchange my last hundred dollar bill US. Around a block from the Airbnb, someone called me. Who would I know in Trinidad, Cuba? It was the woman and her son from the last town, who put me on a bus to Trinidad! They had a broken phone, and had come to town to deal with it.

Cubans have different hand gestures. I like the one for eating, as in "Is this for cooking or eating?" "Eating." It looks like a vertical hand, facing your face, then folding back the fingers half.


Cuba blog April 30, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:42

Another long day.


Walked a while.


In one town, some kind people put me on a bus to the next city, Trinidad.


Walked around Trinidad. A beautiful old city, patrimonio, tons of tourists. "Taxi!" at most corners. Or "Habitacion?" ("Room?")


Made an Airbnb reservation. The listing didn't include the address, as seems to be a common issue in Cuba. Looked for it for a while, didn't find it.


Finally, someone called the phone number for me. Went to someone who said it was the wrong number. Walked to a bunch of rental places w/ the phone person. (The city is littered w/ rentals.) None available, except for Cuban cash, which I don't have. At one of the cash-only places, they recognized the Airbnb hosts when I showed them my reservation, pointing me to the place. We walked there. Knocked repeatedly. No answer.


About ready to walk out of the city to camp, while the phone person said I should knock more, a woman opens a slot in the door. What do you want? I have a reservation. Show me. I pull out my laptop to show her the reservation. They let me in. By now way after midnight.


Cuba blog April 28, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:36

The Airbnb I rented for the weekend in Cienfuegos, when I arrived, only available for the first night (Friday). Offered to put me up other night at relative's place. I asked for cash back. They said OK. Later, found out that the cash man wouldn't arrive until next week. It's a small city. Horses.


Stayed the second night (Saturday) at the relative's, down the street. I've seen the city, ready to go on. Also, getting tired of the noise of the city, ready for more countryside, small towns. Instead of a third night of hosting, the host is making me chicken, rice, potatoes. I hope enough for a few days.


Getting ready to walk. Sore feet. Shoes, but w/ holes. Looks like a beautiful route.


Running low on cash - around one dollar in Cuban currency, a hundred dollars in US currency. Tried to exchange the hundred yesterday, but the cadeca (currency exchange) was closed. Hoping that the food I carry plus one dollar, plus whatever fruit I find or resources are given to me, suffice to make it to Trinidad. 80 km.

Cuban cities are loud. On every street, at every corner, people speak, vendors hawk their wares. After walking dozens of blocks, still no quiet spot. Opposite of American cities, where you can walk dozens of blocks without running into people (but often there are louder motor noises there).


I'm now thinking of trying to walk, hitchhike, bike, somehow get to the eastern side of Cuba. Then, hope for a boat or plane out of the country, or else fly or hitchhike back to the western side of the country.


 Now my life looks kind of like my screensavers, TV shows, etc.! :)

The Airbnb host made me some chicken, rice, french fries, ham sandwich, mangoes, mango juice, toast, etc. Should be enough to last at least most of the trip!

Walked out of the city of Cienfuegos. Around the outskirts (of town), a horse carriage driver offered to take me some distance. Fun ride!


<horse ride pix>


Kept walking. Something like 32-33 degrees C, humid. Difficult yet gorgeous walk!


In the evening, it started to rain. Some lightning too. Decided to keep walking until the next plausible camp spot. Took longer than expected, at least covered some solid distance. It's 80 km to my next destination, Trinidad. I'm planning to get there over around three days.


Around here is a turning point. I want to keep going to eastern Cuba. That may/could make it more complicated to get to Habana if it makes sense for the flight. Not sure yet (what to do), kind of leaning towards just walking Cuba anyways, then figuring out how to leave.


I learned that apparently there's a bus that covers 80 km for around two dollars (US). If that's the going rate, then I may bus some portion of it, just to stretch my cash. I also learned that hitchhiking is fairly common in Cuba.


I now have a hundred dollar US bill, which I want to exchange w/ another person instead of a bank or cadeca, because the latter charge an anti-US fee of 10% on top of the exchange rate. Other than that, I'm out of cash. Somewhat scary to face the plausibility/plausible outcome of being in a communist country for a few months w/o cash, but I think it'll be fine. Also, I feel somewhat stupid about it, because stuff is so inexpensive here that it's a convenient place to spend money/consume.

I'm feeling somewhat better psychologically. I think in part it's the time in the countryside and small towns. In Miami, I was consistently feeling city stresses. I'd already seen the countryside around Miami, so I had no immediate escape route. Here, when I feel city stresses, it makes it even more compelling for me to keep traveling through the country. Then, I can get to another city!

I appreciate the novelty of travel. Every day, new situations!

Latin people are quite social/sociable, warm, friendly. I think that spending time among such people makes me feel happier.

I'm quite active, traveling, thinking, surviving. That keeps me busy, which I think can also improve mental tone.

Overall I very much appreciate having chosen to go. I am continuing on! :)




Cuba blog April 25, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:32

Another long day of walking.


Walked over another provincial border, from Matanzas into Cienfuegos!


Phone batt's out, so no pix.


Dry fields. Fires. Wood smoke smells. Seems like an appropriate name. I think they named the province (& city) after revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos, but there were around 100 fires.


Funny call I keep hearing the horse driver yell: Caballo!

Cuba blog April 23, 2019

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:31

After the bottom fell off one of my shoes, I decided just to walk without it. I stepped on a few hard, sharp objects. This evening, I attempted some shoe repairs. Not sure yet if they'll hold up.


Walked another 25 km or so, through more gorgeous Cuban countryside.


Tropical fruits fall to the ground.


Out here, the e-bikes seem like the most modern thing around. Otherwise, I feel like I'm in a different period, more than in a different place.