Malaysia, Cuba · 174 Days · 44 Moments · November 2016

Lyn's journi to Cuba

25 April 2017

22 November 2016 On my last night in Cuba we stayed at the other end of Havana Vieja,in a very nice house full of chandeliers and Christian art - well, mostly Jesus. The two Carolines ,Cecily and I went looking for a restaurant and straight away found a craft beer brewery sitting right on the harbour on the Malecon - probably an old converted wharf building. The beer was good and so was the food - Cuba is full of surprises-a lovely evening and in bed before 10pm , ready for my 4 a.m alarm to get to the airport. I loved Cuba - a special place with very lovely special people - Thankyou Alejandro and Danny for tailoring the tour to suit our group's desires and for making it sooo much fun
More last day observations 22 November 2016 The only negative was the expectation of the people to receive tips for everything , including toilet attendants. There were the musicians , which is OK but every single time we sat down anywhere for coffee or lunch or anything,there was a group , or a soloist or both .In the streets there were women dressed in bright Caribbean garb ,old gnarly men and women posing on doorsteps with huge cigars, men dressed like the bronze statues that are found all over Cuba,behaving like statues , men in colourful clothing walking the streets on stilts , all wanting to be photographed, but very rarely did we see anyone blatantly begging. We often experienced short changing by cafe and restaurant staff - so had to check bills and change every time ,this was the side of Cuba that wasn't so attractive
Final day observations 22 November 2016 The farmland , to a large extent, is still being ploughed by bullock pairs , but there must be some mechanized agriculture because in some places the areas under cultivation were large and neatly planted out . The people are friendly , and there is always music. I believe that helps them to cope with the problems they have .- stay happy - which is a good lesson for us all with our '1st world' worries!
22 November Last day - some observations The Homestays we used are generally of a very high standard- ensuite bathrooms , but rarely any soap , as it is an item which is hard to find for the locals. Breakfast always consisted of bread, freshly squeezed juice, eggs, cheese , processed meat ,guava jam, coffee . I always had to ask for tea and often had to use my stock of black tea that I had brought from Ecuador. This is because it is hard to find . Apparently the owners have to scour the shops to get the simple items required to provide breakfast , a fact I can attest to , having been in several ' supermarkets ' around the country. I had a stock of soaps which I gave to people along the way , and would have had more if I had known to save the ones from rooms in Ecuador & Galapagos.
22 November Last day in Cuba We set off around 9.30 and soon left the jagged shapes of the karst mountains behind and drove back through tobacco, tapioca, banana and sugar plantations towards Havana - about 2 1/2 hours drive away. A beautiful clear blue sky and 28 degrees C as it has been pretty much every day this month. The scene on the way was indicative of quintessential Cuba,- modern highways with mini ' spaghetti junctions ' near Havana , being shared by modern Transtur ( the government tour agency who own all the public transport ) coaches , 1950's & 60's cars, horse & carts, long haul lorries carrying sea containers , ancient trucks carrying freight and some converted to carry people, plus a few modern cars . Rum is far easier to find than vegetables- Mojitos and daiquiris ( & other cocktails) are universally available in bars , cafes and homestays as are the local Kristal and Bucanero beers.-

24 April 2017

Monday 21 Today we went for what I thought was going to be a hike in the hills away from the people but it was a walk around the nearby fields and village and we kept meeting hordes of others doing the same thing . Disappointing to say the least .The scenery is beautiful, but we weren't given the opportunity to get far enough away from the town to appreciate it. Because I didn't sleep well last night, I had a long afternoon nap then went into town with Caro & CB where we ran into the Irish lads.After an amusing 3 hours or so with them and two Daquiris, I had a bowl of seafood soup and now back in the Homestay , hoping I sleep better tonight. Tomorrow is my last day in Cuba .The tour has been fabulous, but I am ready to leave this country of contrasts and dysfunctionality.
Sunday 20 November We moved on to Vinales today , and stopped at a tobacco farm where they grow the best quality tobacco for Cohiba Cuban cigars . They have to give 80% of the crop to the government, who come round and check the harvest.The remainder they can manufacture themselves into cigars and sell. I bought 10 cigars and they cost 90CUC which is cheaper than we would pay in a shop for the same quality. Then we arrived in amongst the gorgeous Karst mountains of Vinales - our first stop being in a stunning place , spoilt only by the 200 ft mural painted with prehistoric animals ( in bright colors) on one of the cliff faces. The town itself is pretty with the houses all painted bright greens, turquoise etc , but also almost every house ( not exaggerating) is a Casa Particulare, so the town is over run with tourists , including us of course .

23 April 2017

Next stop was a gorgeous lake and artists studio in the national Park / Biosphere reserve of Los Terrazas. A really beautiful place with lake and primary rainforest . Lunch at a local cafe in the hills was next - rice and beans , salad and for the meat eaters a choice of chicken, rabbit,beef , pork or lamb . The pieces of meat which were served were huge ! Last stop before the Homestay in Soroa was an orchid garden , which turned out to be an absolutely stunning tropical paradise , full,of ancient trees and ancient endemic cycads. Our homestays were spread out in a small village - 5 of us in 2 different homes. - I am with the two Irish lads , one of whom is vegetarian.Our hostess provided an amazing spread including homemade pumpkin soup, guacamole, a green asparagus like veg, black beans , rice, fritters made with a yam like vegetable and a broccoli cream !, and pickled pumpkin and onion . We were in food heaven ! So much lovely food - unusual !
Saturday 19 November. We set off as a group of 6 plus Alejandro and Allan, our driver. A nice young man who speaks good English and is also studying to be a lawyer. First we stopped and visited the Callejon de Hamel.There is street art and 3 D sculptures all inspired by Afro Cuban culture and religion , especially the Santeria religion. It features the work of famous Cuban artist Salvador Gonzales Escalona who was there , painting in the street . Next we went to a suburb of Havana where mosaic artist and painter Jose Fuster has created Casa Fuster He has a huge confection of house and garden , including sculptures all done in mosaics- broken tiles, glass tiles etc. The surrounding houses for at least one block are also sporting mosaic walls, or mosaic art additions on balconies and in gardens. The plan is make a bigger area part of the ' mosaic' - again , this is difficult to describe !

22 April 2017

17 November After the meeting we were joined by the remaining members of the of the big tour - Sian, Julianne,Robert and later, Sella and Alex, and we piled into taxis and went to Fabrica dArtes Cuba. It is large factory which has been converted into an Art gallery/ nightclub/ exhibition venue. Very very funky with paintings, jewellery, photography , 3D installations and at 9.30 there was a live dance performance. There are several bars with different moods , inside and outside and on different floors.impossible to describe really. When we arrived at 8.30 it was still quiet and easy to look around , but as time went on the crowds of mostly young people arrived , the music in different areas was deafening and by 10.30 it was time for us to go home !
17 November We had a free day in Havana ,so I met up with Julieanne and we went to the Musee del belle Artes, which was extremely interesting , seeing Cuban Art through the past 3 centuries. The modern installations were reminiscent of any world class gallery -Tate Modern , Paris Museum of modern art . After a little nap and shower we met up with other remaining members of the group and went to Plaza Des Armas for the Friday music recital. It was more classical than two weeks ago ,fab but didn't make us feel like dancing! L'Emprente restaurant for daiquiris and tapas then a group meeting with the participants for the next part of the trip.
November 17 & 18 We spent a further two days in Havana.Alejandro took us on an interesting walk through the old City , with lots of information. I went back to the little lane of cafes off Plaza del Catedral and managed to get a large salad and write some Chronicle. In the evening we had a splendid group dinner at Casa Vieja where we were staying - and at Ale's request they even served up large dishes of courgettes!!!! that was an enormous treat .The Daquiris flowed and the wine and drinks with dinner were included in the 18CUC price. We said goodbye to some of our group as this was the end of one tour and the next few days are actually a different tour , with just me and the two Carolines doing the whole 20 days.

21 April 2017

We reached the airport very early , and hoped to be able get some food. All that was available was dry ham &cheese rolls ( of course) , beer, a few biscuits , water and ice cream ( strawberry only) .so my total food for the day was breakfast. , , some crackers with the cheese( saved for the journey) that always comes with breakfast, and a strawberry ice Cream! The plane was 1 1/2 hours late leaving because of an 'overbooking ',a standoff between the two tour leaders and the airport authorities as they wanted a person to stay behind and there was no guarantee of another flight until 24 hours later. Eventually we ALL were allowed to board the plane , and it became obvious that the airline wanted the seat in order to fly 2 off duty staff back to Havana and there was only one available seat.I saw one of the extra crew sitting on the floor during takeoff and landing so there was the answer! It was an amazing journey and still more time to explore Havana before setting off on the next leg .
16 November 4. The last leg was all 13 of us in a big old Chrysler with all the luggage on the roof. During all of this we had 2 stops for toilets, but no food . The second stop was at a petrol station , but the toilet was out of order and the mortuary next door wouldn't allow us in to use the toilet! There was beer to buy , but no food ! Workers from the shoe factory across the road invited us to use their bathroom , so I had a good look at the factory .They were making a big batch of small kids black boots.The design was very sturdy military!
16 November This was a long hard day , but full of ' adventure' and seeing parts of Cuba not visited often by foreigners. Because the airport at Baracoa was closed to tourist flights, a whole lot more issues had arisen . We were amongst the first groups of tourists to be able to drive into Baracoa since the main road was repaired and made passable. Normally , any bus which transports people to Baracoa, leaves with just the driver and visitors fly back to Havana. So , our driver and that of two other groups we know of ,set off a day after dropping us off and the new plan meant that all tourists needed to be moved , by road ,back to Holguin, at least 300 Kms away. But when the tour leaders tried to get transport ,,there was none over the mountain pass and on to Holguin. Nobody had thought about that - and to make it worse the easiest route was broken because the bridge had breached -see the photos and this is how we eventually got to Holgun airport- 3 changes of vehicles and a ferry !
15 November The waterfall was wide and more like Rapids - the swim in the cool of the river was welcome .We visited a local home on the way back for hot fresh chocolate drinks and fried bananas ..A simple home but she had a sewing machine which she was making cushion covers with , and a whole rack of nail varnishes, so I can only assume she had a manicure business as well. The whole outing felt very Cuban and we arrived back in the city feeling good about the experience.
Our next day in Baracoa , we insisted that the activities were only a half day , so there would be time to rest, browse,do our own thing , of which there has been little so far. Most of us opted to do a walk to a waterfall out of the town , which turned out to one of the best outings of the tour so far. Why ? Because we travelled in a 1953 Chevrolet which had been transplanted with a Nissan motor and various additional bits, but the chassis was original. The driver 'amused' us by playing Cuban music , driving and clapping at the same time. Those crammed in the front seat (I was right in the back ) said he was steering with his elbows and even changed gears without hands!! Anyway , the walk to the waterfall was through random devastated plantations ( not 'planted' as we would do it ) of Cacao, pineapples, palms and the remains of the homes of pretty poor people .
The last stop was a beach where we had a seafood lunch in a simple cafe on the sand. The beach is strewn with coconut palms ripped out by the massive 200 km wind. Food , generally , here in Cuba is like this - Fish, prawns, lobster,chicken, beef, pork - with tomato salsa, plain, fried, or grilled or with a sauce.The protein comes on its own on a big plate -i.e. A big portion.- rice , shredded cabbage( sometimes. a bit of shredded lettuce too) some very thinly sliced pieces of cucumber and sometimes tomato, bread and maybe banana chips or yucca ( or yucca chips) .are served in the middle of the table. A light lunch is a roll with ham and cheese , or cheese, occasionally tinned tuna . Breakfast is always freshly squeezed juice ( usually guava) , fruit ( papaya, guava, sometimes banana or grapefruit) Bread, guava jam or paste ,cheese and ham
Baracoa November 14 The two days here have been amongst the highlights for me. The first day we had a day trip to the ?? River , were rowed upstream from the river mouth into the gorge and swam in the clear cool water. The whole area has been devastated by the hurricane and about 10 villagers followed us when we climbed up to a viewpoint over the gorge.They wanted anything we had , mainly soap .We had been gathering small bars of soap and so were able to give some out. Robert , the Scottish member of our group gave a man his old trainers and very happy he was even though they were too big! We visited a family cacao business and sampled the chocolate and hot chocolate.They have to give 80% of their crop to the government and can sell the remainder by turning it into chocolate products and selling it themselves. The same rule applies to all agricultural crops.
The food specialities here include coconut , used in cooking a lot . The coconut palms everywhere have been pretty much trashed by the wind and rain , so I think it will affect the local cuisine for a while. Cacao is also a main crop , and chocolate is for sale everywhere. Mostly made in small family units, the chocolate we bought yesterday was wrapped in foil off pharmaceutical drugs ! The Cacao trees had their branches ripped off by the wind,but fortunately they recover quickly and the trunks which have survived and been pruned are already sprouting loads of leaves. The fruit grows on the trunks so there will be at least a partial crop of fruit.
November 13 We eventually arrived back down by the sea in Baracoa and could immediately see the devastation that had been wreaked by hurricane Matthew.We were the first foreigners to get in again as the road had been washed away further back on the coast. Great swathes of flattened palms, and many with the tops off - Many of the houses , including concrete houses were missing their roofs- some have already been redone and there are piles of cement board roofing sitting waiting in every village .Many homes have plastic for temporary shelter, but many just had walls and a small area of roof , or no roof and it still rains regularly at the moment. The town of Baracoa has about 80,000 population including outlying villages, It is very laid back and the people seem to be just carrying on in the face of hardship.
November 13 Yet another driving day and this time it was from Santiago de Cuba, through Guantanamo area where stopped for a break and could see the American Military base in the distance.Palm trees abound amongst the green of the forested hills Further along the way towards Baracoa we ascended a range of hills along a windy and fairly narrow road with a scary drop off the non-mountain side .We eventually reached a Pass where we had planned to stop for a picnic, but the mist was low and the Pass stopping area was alive with people trying to sell chocolate bars , pure chocolate in the form of balls , cocoa butter cream, bananas, tangerines, We stayed on the coach as it was not pleasant , weather or people wise "- but we did buy goods from them via Ali, our tour leader.
November 12 Next was a guided tour in the Cemetary of Santa Ifigenia. Several key figures in Cuba's military history lie here , including Jose Marti, whose tomb , an elaborate structure, has guards who change every half hour in a military display of precision marching, and an eternal flame burning outside. Several others of importance interred in this Cemetary include Emilio Bacardi , of rum fame , Carlos Manual Cespedes and Tomas Palma - Cubas first president. Soon after my visit , Fidel Castro joined his illustrious forebears there . Next stop was Moncada Barracks , where the first attempt to oust Baptista in 1953 failed after a short 25 minute shootout . Fidel Castro escaped but many of his men were severely tortured then killed in this place. Last bit of history for the day was revolution square .
A late afternoon city walk followed , then dinner at a place that is a centre for arts - a community project where young people go to do photography , music , cooking,Waiting on tables .We were entertained by a quartet of very young women on violin and cello. Really lovely . Santiago is very different from further north as many of the population are descended from the Haitian people who fled here during the Wars in Haiti , and also some who came here for work many years ago. So the people are predominantly dark skinned , and the music is more Afro Cuban . Next day we started with El Morro , which is a castle fortification at the entrance to the bay where the port of Santiago de Cuba is. This was started in 1638 and rebuilt in 1668 after it was reduced to rubble by English pirate Henry Morgan.
November 11 Today was a travelling day, as we moved from Camaguey to Santiago de Cuba , about 400 Kms. The countryside was flat to start with , then we moved into wooded , palm dappled hills, with mountains in the distance. Very pretty - not many cars but plenty of horses pulling ancient carts , some with ' taxi' painted on the side. The other main form of transport in this part of the country is private bus- which means a truck with a big solid canopy and small open strips on each side which serve as windows . The people cram into them and they are basically like being in a goods vehicle once the back doors are shut. Claustrophobia plus ! We arrived about 4 pm and were welcomed at the ' base' house with Cuba Libres ( no cups of tea here !) then met by our various hosts and taken to our homestays .
Camaguey November 10 Later , three of us went for a walk through a different part of town , some of it a pedestrian mall , with one department store which looked quite modern and also an addidas shop.Most of the shops however were bare of much merchandise with large spaces and mainly empty shelves. The only shops which are overflowing with stock are the stores selling alcohol. Beer is cheap and plentiful, as is rum of all sorts and ages. But everywhere we go there is music, be it day or night and the people appear happy. One of the things I love is hearing the street vendors as they pass by the houses on bicycles or on foot , calling their wares. Pan ( bread) , flowers, ice creams, banana etc. up and down they go. Householders just lean into the space behind their metal bar outer window frames, and have the goods passed through in return for the appropriate pesos.
Camaguey We started the day with a Flamenco demonstration,an explanation and a display of traditional and modern Flamenco.So much more training and preparation than you can imagine! Then a rickshaw tour of the town- -Not my thing and it could have just as easily been done on foot- I loved Plaza del Carmen, where 4 incredible bronze sculptures are the feature.- one of an old man sitting on a bench reading a newspaper,one of 3 women sitting in a circle drinking coffee and chatting , with an empty chair for anyone to join in ! The third is the ' water man ' pushing a cart of the ceramic '(in bronze) water butts which are the symbol of the town.The last is of two lovers sitting on a bench , .They are the works of Martha Jiminez, whose gallery is on the plaza. Her work is amazing ,
Wednesday 9 th was a travelling day - the journey wasn't supposed to be too long but the bus developed a mechanical fault , which held us up in the agricultural town of Ciego de Avila while Danny , our driver, got new bolts and fitted them to the offending part. Very lucky we have a driver who knows what to do . Then we drove pretty swiftly along the barely 2 lane highway . Rather like crossing the Canterbury plains in NZ - very very flat pastoral land with cows. We had a near miss as a horse and cart was stopped in the road and the horse facing side on to us .How Danny braked in time I don't know , but we we were happy we had seatbelts! We eventually arrived in Camaguey in the dark , had our homestays allocated , then met up in the 'base house ' now always dubbed the 'safe' house , a small hotel this time , where they cooked us a splendid meal and we celebrated the day with Cuba Libres and some dancing .
The fact that you can hear music everywhere you go is fabulous - just walking along the street there will be someone playing something somewhere in a courtyard or bar.
the average wage is 20 CUC per month , with professionals - doctors, lawyers, engineers earning 40 .So the money tourists have to pay for anything means that we are being seriously exploited .I spend on average CUC 40 per day ( at least) for simple food , no desserts , a couple of drinks in the evening and tips ( everywhere!).I understand that they need more income, but I fear that this is going to a few , and the divide between the actual cost of living here and what we are having to pay is extreme.
We get some fruit with breakfast at our homestays, , with freshly squeezed pineapple or guava juice. This is virtually all the fruit or veg we see- an occasional carrot, a couple of slices of cucumber and tomato on a dinner constitutes their idea of a 'salad'. There's plenty of good land and places to grow vegetables , but we just don't see them - I saw one small fruit stall out of town yesterday but I haven't seen vegetables for sale anywhere. Sella and Alex tried to get some snacks for our long days travelling and could only find crisps which were the equivalent of £3 for a small bag ! The local currency exchanges at 24 per CUC , which is the same as a $ US
This morning we went as a group in our bus to Salto Javira , a lovely waterfall with a bat cave behind, which you can swim into.The walk there was gorgeous, through rainforest with tall Royal Palms .The highlight was a Cuban Trogan , red white and blue , sitting in a tree. Next stop , by group decision, was the beach - a beautiful long white sand beach with crystal clear water - the Caribbean. We were at The Ancon Resort which is a 60s looking ,government owned hotel . I just had french fries and a beer , which came in a very small disposable plastic cup .Two of those and the chips cost me 9CUC which is about 13 $NZ! There is not much choice at lunchtime for food anywhere- hamburger or cheese and ham sandwiches.
We skipped lunch in order to get to Trinidad at a sensible time.It is a very old colonial city with streets of cobbles ,were made from ballast stones from ships and also from rivers. We got settled into our homestays then did a walking tour of the old town ,after which we went our own ways .Six of us went to a bar / restaurant for sandwiches and a drink . The Cuban band played and the town was alive with the sounds of music from various places! There are some well kept classic cars here, so still very much the 'Cuban' atmosphere.
. I slept well and at 7 a.m we set out for the running circuit in a nearby park. Just a dust track , but I managed the ten laps which added up to 4 Kms.I was surprised that I could as I haven't done any jogging or cycling or swimming since mid September! After fresh Guava juice , lots of fruit and a bit of Omelette , it was time to drag my bag back along the 4 blocks to where the bus had parked. We set off for Trinidad, but had seen very little of Cienfuegos. The scenery turned to rolling hills covered in lush bush , with farms and pasturelands on the low areas. Very lovely countryside , this was where the revolutionaries hid and prepared for the battle.
An hour further along the way we reached our overnight destination ,Cienfuegos, but by then it was 5 p.m so had a whistle stop look at the main Plaza and the Franco / Indian / Moorish 'castle' by the sea , built as a private home but now a restaurant. Next we had a very early dinner at a restaurant ,organized by Alejandro, our leader , before we even went to our Homestays . This means splitting the group and going to different homes. By then it was about 8.45 so I didn't go out again , as did some of the others. My Homestay was lovely and the hosts also- Edmondo made me a delicious Mojito before I retired and I said I would go jogging with him in the morning.
Then we moved on to The Bay of Pigs' and the museum commemorating the 72 hour battle of the Revolution in 1959', during which Che Guevera rose to prominence and after which Fidel,Castro became president. We watched a film about the struggle, and today watched 2 documentaries about Che's career. Also about Fidel and how the they are both revered here in Cuba. On the way we passed some flat lands which were irrigated and they were growing rice. The harvest was done and the rice was strewn along one lane of the main road to dry .Teams of men were shovelling rice into sacks The full sacks lay in the road waiting to be picked up.
I joined a small group tour which was to take me through Cuba. The drive south was through flat farmland ,though not well kept .We stopped for lunch with all the big tour buses, not a nice experience! En route we stopped in a National Park at a beach -Playa Giron where the water was crystal clear and we swam in the Caribbean- very warm,loads of fish and some corals , but I didn't have a snorkel so missed out .There was also a deep ( 70 mtrs) pool behind the beach which was part salt water. Cooler but nice to swim in .
We lunched on delicious salads and fresh baguettes at the little cafe I had found the day before, then it was time for the orchestra recital which takes place every Friday at 4 p.m in the Plaza des Armas. It was fabulous - the conductor was young and very talented , and the sound which filled the air was first traditional classical ,Beethoven? then it moved into modern Cuban dance and even some jazz improvisation.I loved it and like others in the audience, really wanted to dance . This was in a very old cobbled and wooden paved square , very moving.
Today Jenny, Steve and Skye were arriving back in Havana from a short tour in Cuba, and we had arranged to meet at 2.30 at Cervezas y Maltas. I wandered and got my bearings. I found a lovely Waldorf salad for lunch , as my body was crying out for fresh Vegies. I accidentally found a 'telepunto ' - lots of locals and foreigners sitting on the side of the street using their mobile phones ! This time I found the IP address and worked out how to use my card ! By then it was time to meet my darling friends - we all arrived at the appointed place at the appointed time and lots of catching up ensued.We enjoyed the ambience of the band playing ,local beer and the life around us .

4 November 2016

Bodeguita del Medio , the bar where Ernest Hemingway went for his Mojitos was our next stop. One of the most visited spots in Havana I reckon! All of the walls inside and out are covered with signatures etc, but we didn't have a marker ,so couldn't do ours .We were upstairs and the ubiquitous band started playing - it is good but tipping everyone soon runs away with money! This was a fun tour we were doing, and something I wouldn't have done on my own I suspect- then we went to 'Floriditas '- Hemingway's Daiquiri -stop - amazingly good too!

3 November 2016

I stopped off and had a look at the Hotel Nacional , the iconic building which was built in 1930 as a copy of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach Florida .It was the scene of a failed coup in 1933 and the venue , in 1946 ,hosted the biggest North American Mafia get together, in the guise of a Frank Sinatra concert.

2 November 2016

As I walked along one of the main thoroughfares , one after another of the the old American cars which are used as share taxis , raced past with up to 5 passengers , the 5 th one in the middle of the front seat! I just walked and soaked in the atmosphere of this jaded, crumbling neighbourhood and its charm . The sky was cloudy , but the day warm , so perfect for wandering.I came across the 'etecsa shop which is the telecommunications company for phone and Internet , run by the government. They sell pre pay cards for the Internet , and then you have to find where there is a hotspot to use them . I queued for this outside, and as each customer came out , they let another in . This is common and later in the day the same thing happened when I wanted to go to the local 'supermarket,only to find when I finally got in there , that there was very little to buy , so I ended up with only bottled water . As I walked I saw a load of people using their phones in a park - I had found a Telepunto
My taxi from Havana airport was an ancient blue Chevrolet! The back windows were cracked , there was no inside door handle on the backseat , and the centre of the steering wheel said 'Toyota'! It was certainly in need of a little TLC , but when I saw some of the vehicles that are still on the roads , I felt like a queen ! My accommodation was a colonial bungalow in Vedado , which has been restored to its former glory , and is gorgeous. All the other houses on the block and beyond are run down , the pavements are broken but it has a charm I can't describe. It feels so good to be somewhere that is totally safe -
I slept well and was ready to walk when I woke up in the morning. First I walked to the 86 hectare Necropolis Cristobal Colon. Huge marble statues line many of the narrow paths and. there were people taking flowers to lay at tombs, creating a booming business for the street flower sellers,outside.