First of all you can find stories and pictures of our trip also from Sanni's blog if you haven't yet checked it out! Nice for the Finnish readers, as the text is in Finnish.
Then lets continue with stories from Cuba, the country where everyone are friends.
Day Three: Santa Maria -beach and the longest bus ride ever
On the morning of March 8th we met up with our new friends, Fino and Lazaro, outside our hotel. It was time to head off to the Santa Maria -beach! We had had troubles with arranging how to get to the beach that was situated about 20-30min outside of Havana City. Taking a taxi to the beach would have been way too expensive for the guys and taking a local bus was not possible for us tourists. In Cuba tourists don't only have a different currency but also different transportation than locals. This is because tourists pay much much more for everything in Cuba.
Somehow the guys just got us on a local bus and we travelled to a spot in town where taxies were a bit cheaper and not only for tourists. The guys arranged a cheap taxi for us four, and Sanni and me paid for the ride. We wanted to travel together and as our 20min taxi ride cost 5pesos it wasn't a rip off. Five pesos is about 3,5€. It is also 1/4th of a Cuban's monthly salary. Yeah, some only get 20pesos a month. Loco, right?
Windy, empty, cold beach. Not that much of a success. The sand was flying into our eyes and mouth. As we weren't that big fans of that crunchy feel in our mouthes we decided that the couple hours we had spent on the beach were enough. Our body probably thanked us, too, as during those couple hours we already succeeded in getting burnt. Wee hoo!
Back to the hotel in the back of a Jeep and said our goodbyes with Fino and Lazaro as we were heading off to Santiago de Cuba in the evening.
We ate out again at a paladar (family) restaurant before heading off to the Viazul bus station.
We took a coco -taxi to the Viazul bus station. Hah, those coco -taxies were the best! The only one with a helmet was the rider himself. We were holding onto our luggage hoping it wouldn't fall out. Sanni said she could start riding one of those taxies as her summer job. ;-)
We had been advised to get to the the bus station at least an hour before the bus left. We thought two hours in advance could be good and so we got to the station at 8pm. Also we'd been told that tickets can be purchased when you get to the station and it's not problem as the buses are hardly ever full.
The buses so were full. A very unpleasant lady working at Viazul (probably the only unkind person in Cuba) told us we should come back to the station again the next morning at 7 to ask if anyone had cancelled their bus trip to Santiago. Apparently all the buses were full. Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after the day after tomorrow and so on. There were people at the station who had been waiting since 3.30pm to get on a bus.
As it was only one hour till the departure of the bus we decided that what the... we'd just stay and see what happens. No plans for the evening anyway and so little time left - why not try our luck.
And so we did:
The clock hit 10pm. The cash registers had been shut down, the unfriendly lady had left and the only people left in the waiting hall were Sanni and me accompanied by a Columbian (?) guy who had come to say bye to his aunt. Thankfully this guy started talking to us and then arranging us on board... After a few minutes the bus driver came to us, asked for money and guided us to the bus passing a twenty-headed group of people escorting their friends/family. Again eyes turned at us and suddenly we became the center of attention.
So all ended well, no change of plans had to be made and we were accepted in the full bus which happened to have two seats left, right next to each other.
Let the 15-16 hour bus ride to Santiago de Cuba begin!
What comes to the money we paid to the bus driver...I have no idea where that went. As said, the cash register was closed.
View from the bus as we were heading from West to East.
Thankfully the bus ride went fast as it was night. I pretty much slept all those 16 hours.
coming up next...Santiago!