Santiago day 3

Sunday, 17 May 2015

It was only a matter of time before the usual travellers’ ailments slowed us down. One of them woke me last night like an urgent and unwelcome phone call.

It’s now 12:30 p.m. and Susie is lying in the bedroom under a fan, trying to ward off a migraine. Clare is napping opportunistically in a hammock on the terrace with some budgerigars chattering in a cage nearby. Arnulfo also keeps a parrot which speaks only one word, and it sounds exactly like someone calling out ‘Clare!’ in a nagging tone, as if it were sick too and in need of attention. Our alarm clock is a rooster who will one day—and not a day too soon—be transformed into one of Arnulfo’s excellent dinners.

Thankfully it has been otherwise quiet this morning, but there’s a guy on the roof next door sporting a large pneumatic drill, so the peace might be short lived.

A large bank of cumulonimbus clouds is drifting slowly over the Sierra Maestra. Today is destined to be a day of rest and, hopefully, recovery.

Even though we were unable to venture out during the day, we enjoyed watching city life unfold from the terrace. On the front patio of a house across the road, a visiting barber dispensed buzz-cuts to male members of the household. Compared to Australia, life is lived much more on the streets here.

Buzz-cuts on a patio in Santiago de Cuba

During the early afternoon, Clare and I headed out to Hotel Rex to check for messages. Half way there, those clouds collided over Santiago and we were caught in the ensuing deluge. We sheltered under leaky eaves and, when the rain abated, we ran for a few blocks and were forced again to seek shelter and wait. When eventually we arrived at the Rex in damp clothes, I ordered Clare a toasted cheese sandwich and refresco at the bar. She struggled to get access to the Internet, but eventually succeeded.

By the evening, Susie had recovered enough to go out in search of music and dancing. In the Plaza de Martes she stumbled into a concert with an amazing 12 piece band, and she danced with a stranger using her new-found skills. When she returned home, she was buzzing with excitement.

We shared a late night drink on the terrace with the lights of Santiago glimmering below.

Camilo Cienfuegos smiling down on Santiago

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