The following morning we were up early for the walk back
up the hill to the reception area.
Everyone (but me) enjoyed the breakfast buffet. My stomach was not doing well so I stuck to just
There were two big trucks waiting to bring us the rest of
the way up the mountain. They were
Russian military 6 X 6s that were rebuilt by the Cubans with more powerful and
efficient Chinese diesel engines. The
trucks were open-air and the seats hard.
When I saw how big and powerful these trucks where, I started wondering
about what the road would look like. I
wasn’t disappointed when almost immediately the trucks headed up about a 30-degree
We eventually reached the park entrance. There we met Alex, our tour guide for the
woods walk. This was a 3 mile walk,
mostly down the mountain, past waterfalls and creeks. Alex stopped often to explain to us local
trees and bushes. Interestingly, there
were many coffee plants under the forest canopy. They don’t like direct sunlight so grow well
in the forest.
This is Alex at the park entrance explaining where we are going. Sorry the picture isn't better. The Sun was right behind him.
After a short while, we came to a beautiful 120 foot high
waterfall. The Sun was a perfect angle
to light up the water coming down the side of the mountain. A short time past that we came to a still
pond where Alex offered to take the more adventurist tourist on a “Rambo
hike”. They stripped down to bathing
suits, walked into the 60 degree water and proceeded to walk down the
creek. We opted for the less strenuous
walk through the woods and met up with the Rambo group about ½ hour later.
We enjoyed the hike a lot. The scenery and woods reminded us of all the
hikes we had taken through the Adirondacks in Upstate NY.
We came to this small, very clear pond where Laura decided to soak her feet. She had a surprise when lots of little fish came over to nibble on her feet. I think she was the only one that kept her feet in the water.
Early in the afternoon we came out of the woods into a
clearing at The Ranch. We were served
lunch here while watching dogs, cats, chickens, goats and turkeys wander around
free. Lunch consisted of home-style rice
and beans, boiled potatoes, home made rolls (very hard), tomato and cucumber
plate, and pineapple and mango plate.
The entre’ was roasted chicken.
It was all very good and I ate a little of most things – my stomach
still not doing well.
Russian military trucks were waiting for us after lunch. They drove us up and down steep mountain
roads (trails?) and about an hour later we again boarded our bus for the trip
down the mountain. This was my view from our truck as we were leaving the ranch.
Our next stop was Santa Clara in the middle of Cuba. The drive to Santa Clara was about 1 ½ hours
– mostly down the mountains and through large valleys. Scenery was lush and beautiful with lots of
small farms in the valleys then sugarcane fields in the more open areas.
Santa Clara was described to us as the main turning point
of the 1959 revolution. Here is a little
Cuban history lesson we were given –
The 1959 Cuban revolution was organized / managed by four
main people. Fidel and Raul Castro, Che
Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Starting
from the east coast, Fidel instructed Camilo Cienfuegos to take the southern coast
and Che Guevara to take the central / northern areas. When Che Guevara got to Santa Clara, he took
the city with 150 men against 1,500 defenders.
This was only 3 hours from Havana by car. When the current Cuban president / dictator
Fulgencio Batista was told that Santa Clara had fallen, he immediately left the
country which left the door open for Fidel.
Che Guevara (Ernesto) was born in Argentina. He became a doctor then met and joined Fidel
in Mexico. He fought in the Cuban revolution as a general. Interestingly, he left power in
post-revolution Cuba to fight with revolutionaries in Bolivia. There he was killed (Xavier told us he was
killed by the CIA) and his remains eventually found and returned to Cuba.
The bus took us to the Che Guevara Mausoleum / Museum in
Santa Clara where we had a solemn walk through the mausoleum and viewed many
photos and documents of this Cuban hero.
I thought it was interesting that there were about 50 tour busses (and
the associated tourists) all around the museum but we didn’t see any local
Cubans. I asked Xavier if the Cubans
every visited here or was it just for tourists.
He told me that Cubans come during the summer when they are on vacation.
From Santa Clara we had a 3-hour ride back to hotel. The scenery was mostly sugarcane and farms
with a few small cities along the way.
We did stop twice to “make pee-pee.”
Xavier said the driver would try to hurry because it
would be getting dark before we returned to Varadero. I need to explain a little why this is
On Cuban roads, you find bicycles, horse-drawn carts,
pedestrians, cars, trucks and busses.
There are no shoulders on the road so everybody uses the driving
lanes. During our bus trip, it was not
uncommon for the bus to slow and almost stop while waiting to get around a
bicycle or horse-buggy if there was a car or truck coming the other way. At night, it is almost impossible to see
someone walking or biking on the road because they have no lights. That’s why the driver wanted to get back
drive back to Varadero was uneventful and I enjoyed watching the countryside go
by. We were getting tired of sitting on
the bus after two days and were all happy to disembark when we finally got to
the resort. We flagged down a taxi to
take us back to the marina. I didn’t
even negotiate when the driver asked for $10 instead of the normal $5 or $6. I was tired, hungry and just wanted to get
back to our boat
The entire bus trip with meals, hotel and everything was
very reasonable at $140 per person.
Laura and I had a snack then hit the sack early. D, Don, Bruce and Debbie went up to the
marina bar for drinks and pizza.
Just before bed I started thinking about the weather
forecast. My last internet download
indicated that the overnight weather tomorrow would be good for sailing back to
Florida. This would be about 4 days
before we had planned on leaving but, if there wasn’t a good window for the
next week, we might want to go now.
I got dressed and walked up to the marina bar to speak
with Don. We both have single-sideband
(SSB) radios on our boats for long-range communication. A meteorologist named Chris Parker does
weather forecasting for the U.S. coast and Caribbean on the SSB each
morning. Anyone can listen for free but
you have to subscribe to ask questions.
D and Don had subscribed so I asked Don to find out when the next
weather window back to Florida might be after tomorrow. He agreed and I went back to the boat and was
asleep in about 5 minutes.
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