A guerrilla hideout

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 We had restful night with the sound of running water coursing through our sleep. We rose at 6:15 a.m. for an excursion up to Commandancia la Plata, which would require a return trip up the steepest road in Cuba. Some of the other tourists there were hiking to Pico Turquino, the…

Into the Sierra Maestra

Tuesday 19 May, 2015 We rose before dawn to finish packing and found some fresh fruit in the fridge that our host, Arnulfo, had kindly prepared for us the night before. Unfortunately there was no time for coffee. When the taxi showed up at 5:30 a.m. we exchanged warm farewells with Arnulfo. The driver was…

Santiago day 4

Monday, 18 May 2015 On Clare’s last day in Cuba, we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast on the terrace and then walked to Calle Saco where we checked out some bookshops, hoping to find some reading material in easy Spanish or our native English. We struck out on the books, but Clare and Susie joined a…

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…

Santiago day 2

Saturday, 16 May 2015 Salsa is both a style of music and a style of dance, and it was beginning to get under our skin. Susie had harboured plans to book some salsa lessons, and it was in Santiago de Cuba that these plans were finally hatched. Our host, Arnulfo, phoned a local dance instructor…

Santiago de Cuba

Friday, 15 May 2015 After we had taken leave of our host family in Baracoa, we walked to the Viazul bus station and exchanged our online reservations for three bus tickets to Santiago de Cuba. The bus needed mechanical attention so our departure was delayed. We killed time mooching around the foreshore admiring the views…

Baracoa by bicycle

Thursday 14 May, 2015 While we had breakfast in the casa, our host organised bicycles for us. On our ride, we set out along the Malecón towards the stadium and stopped for a beer and a cola in a small cafeteria where a diminutive patio out front caught the fresh sea breeze we had enjoyed…

Humboldt National Park

Wednesday 13 May, 2015 Alexander von Humboldt was a Prussian explorer and naturalist who visited Cuba in the first few years of the C19th. He studied the flora and fauna of the island and surveyed the capital, Havana. There is a large national park named after him about 1½ hours drive in a bus from…

Baracoa—but which one?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 At 3 a.m. we exit the casa, leaving our keys with Alberto. As arranged, there is a taxi waiting on the street below. Just as we pull out from the kerb, Clare remembers she has left her passport in the safe box in her room. We have no key to get…

Susie’s birthday

Monday, 11 May 2015 On the morning of Susie’s birthday we had breakfast out on the balcony with spectacular views of centro district. To mark the occasion, our host Melba cooked a caramel cake with tropical fruits erupting out of the centre. It was delicious. After breakfast we walked up to the Teatro America to…

Return to Havana

Sunday, 10 May 2015 On Sunday we began the day with a self-guided walk to El Cafetal Buena Vista. Built in 1801 by French refugees from Haiti, this is reputed to be the oldest coffee plantation in Cuba. The walk from Hotel Moka was 5 km in each direction. We were on the road by…

Las Terrazas day 2

Saturday, 9 May 2015 After breakfast in the Hotel, we set off on a 3½ hour hiking tour with four youths who spoke only to each other in French, and two middle-aged couples: one German and one English. At length we left the bitumen and veered onto a dirt road which gradually turned into a…