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Published: July 23rd 2015
Santa Clara doesn't offer an awful lot to the travelling soul, but what little it has is of immense importance to fans of Che Guevara. Before we arrived at our hotel we were taken straight to the one place which simply cannot be missed - Che's mausoleum.
Che was killed in Bolivia in 1967 in a failed attempt to cause an uprising. Fidel Castro had his remains transported to Cuba, and those of 29 other revolutionaries killed in the same campaign, where they now lie in an enormous mausoleum. No photos are allowed inside, nor are they allowed in the informative museum alongside the tombs. There are other restrictions too, such as no hats or sunglasses inside, and no bags to go in with you either. Standing in front of Che's tomb was a moment for quiet contemplation having followed his life from his birth in Rosario, Argentina, to the place of his death in Bolivia. The Congo aside, this completed our personal Che journey. From the huge parade square overlooked by the mausoleum you get tremendous views of the 22 foot bronze statue of Che. From there, photos are allowed!
Santa Clara was chosen because it was the
location of Che's most heroic campaigns. Along with his soldiers, he destroyed the railway tracks and derailed a train containing many troops and armaments being sent by then President Batista. Today a yellow JCB and several railway wagons pay homage to the battle on a small square on the edge of town.
In the centre of the town there is a large plaza
which is surrounded by an eclectic mix of buildings. It's hard to miss the bright green Hotel Santa Clara on one side. Pay close attention and you can see a lot of bullet holes from the battle in the town. They have been left there as testimony to the events which helped to shape Cuba's recent past.
In the evening we dined out as a large group. The restaurant we went to was far from full, indeed there were only two other diners there, and they were probably relatives of the owners. Our group of 10 was put into a small room with an adequate table. Adequate that was, until the plates arrived which were so large that we couldn't all eat comfortably at the same time! To add to the atmosphere, we were serenaded
by a lovely lady who didn't know when to stop. Bear in mind that she was stood just a couple of feet away from the table. That's not the best entertainment we've ever had, but provided a talking point as we left the restaurant!!
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