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Our Sail to Cuba
Sail to Cuba and Check-In
Gaviota to Darsena
Santa Marta and Varadero
Farmers Market Day
Trip to Habana
Bus Trip Day One
Bus Trip Day Two
Back to Florida?
Trip Home and U.S. Arrival
How was the trip?

Three City Bus Trip - Day Two

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 coffee.

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 incline.

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.

The 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 important.

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 before dark.

Our 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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