Havana...Lost...in Translation


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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana
May 28th 2016
Published: June 1st 2016
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Another day in Cuba and even more new things learned. I packed up from my casa and set forth for the omnibus station to try to purchase my boat ticket to the Isla de la Juventud where I plan to go at the end of my trip, again. I say again, since I was there yesterday for 2 hours, but then, classic, couldn't buy anything. The lady then told me to come back “tomorrow morning”, but alas did not tell me I wouldn't be able to buy a ticket today either since they only sell tickets ten days in advance of travel and I'm a startling 13 days prior. Mmmmhmmmm. Literally the first time in my life I have been an early bloomer.

How did I understand all of this nuance, en Espangol, and not just end up crying in to my cervesa? Well, since you ask, I was standing there in front of the ticket booth, very patiently waiting, when an older woman carrying a MEC backpack and wearing shorts of the World Masters Games in Edmonton walked up. Taking a wild leap and assuming she was from Alberta and spoke English, I said hey. Marie and I start chatting about how confusing all of the Cuba travel logistics are, when the previously Spanish speaking younger gentleman, ahem, who had been standing in front of me the whole time, turned and asked, in English, if we wanted him to help translate with the ticket sales guy. I could not say “OBVIOUSLY!” fast enough.

Had I already checked this guy out? Again, OBVIOUSLY! I’m only a human woman. Report card was very favourable.

So now my newest favourite friend became the spokesperson for two Canadian female strangers, lucky dude. He did introduce himself, but me being a numbskull didn't really hear his name, and then later it was just too late. I shall call him Javier. So Javier purchases his ticket, and then tells the guy what it is the two Canadian muchachas need. To both my request and Marie's request there are subtle yet definitive lateral head shakes. Marie's day is sold out and me, well I am just so organized for once that I can't be handled. Awesome. More than ten days ahead? Get outta here!!! After a small amount of grovelling, and an un-decorous amount of eyelash batting, the head shaker was not to be cajoled.

So, not being totally sure how to proceed on that front, I gave up for the day since I needed to head to my bus out of Havana to Trinidad, a city about 5 hours away. I didn't really want to take a taxi from one station to the next, as I am frightfully thrifty about cabs when I could just walk it myself. My new best friend though was sceptical, "It is, very...very far". Well I had three hours, I figured I could make it! "No, I think not". Especially since I didn't actually know where the station was...Taking the middle ground, Javier and I hopped a city bus together and rode that for, I will admit, a pretty long time. Then we got off the bus and still walked for at least 20 minutes. He was probably correct about the distance, I'll give him that. 15 minutes into the voyage, I asked him if he was going to kill me, he said no, that he did not know how to do that kind of thing. Oh good! It was broad day light in a pedestrian heavy Havana suburb, what could go wrong! Cute guys are never murderers right?

Once getting to the bus station, Javier left me to my own devices, though he seemed pretty sceptical of said devices. I think he was tempted to write "If found, please call ###" on the inside of my jacket. I got checked in for my bus, and then stood in a half hour line up and bought every single other bus ticket that I am going to need for the rest of my trip (these buses sell out early, so I'm finally, for once, committing to an itinerary, I know scary stuff). I had it all written on a paper where and when I wanted to go and the lady who helped me was a true champ, though I'm sure the people waiting behind me were lightly choked.

The bus ride to Trinidad was uneventful, except for when the sleeping dame beside me would invade my personal space. Cough, Lindsay Manko, cough.

Upon arriving in Trinidad, in the dark unfortunately, I undertook the next quest of the day, finding a bed. I had not booked a place, not thinking straight and not taking into account the time of day, so I took off and starting walking the streets asking people with the tell tale blue stickers that signify that they are a casa particular, if they had a room available. I asked one kindly woman, who did not have one, but she invited me in and she called around to seemingly the entire town. In the meantime, I played with her three month puppy. Eventually, Kindly Lady found me a place for my three nights and about 15 minutes of puppy play later a cyclo chariot arrived and took me to a soft bed and a warm shower.

The day was truly one of me being insanely unorganized and local Cubans being absolute saints.

Yo no hablo Espangol...

I spoke French this morning! It was actually ok too, better than my Spanish anyways.

My ankles are slightly swollen with all the walking and standing in queues, yikes.

In my last blog I had said I would go online and book all of my buses, but alas, the Viazul bus line website, on which to reserve and purchase bus tickets to travel the country of Cuba, does not work within the country of Cuba. Go figure. Hence me bogartting a ticket salesperson at the station for 15 minutes.

I am in Trinidad for several days when I then go to Sancti Spiritus. Trinidad is a UNESCO world heritage town, so it's pretty top notch on the cute meter. Looking forward to seeing it in daylight tomorrow! Might also try to hit the beach, which is about 10km away. This beach is famous, no not for any great Revolution reason, but because it was the first non-pool body of water that Sue Kydd ever swam in. Fun fact!

Avocados are immense here. Like, honestly, the size of a baby's head. Granted the pit is also pretty huge, but still!

Current takeaways:

Cubans are super friendly and helpful, and in some cases really cute. If you're coming to Cuba in high season, aka January, book transport and accommodation from home, in advance. Eat avocados. Go to bed at 9:30pm, like me.

Edit: Cute Javier’s name is actually Julio. I know this because we are now Facebook friends. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg, thank you.

***** I have also started an independent travel blog of my own design, to try to improve my non-techiness! You can find this blog, with more picture and past blogs all in one place at www.seehertravel.com. All blogs will be posted there as well, so please go there and subscribe!******


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1st June 2016

Fun! Good thing Javier/Julio showed up. I'm excited to read about the island, I didn't get there. Enjoy Trinidad, it was a photographers dream. Hike the hills if you can, it's beautiful up there.
2nd June 2016
Old Havana Scene

Freak-out!
Having to plan ahead and wasting days trying to buy bus tickets--yikes! Thanks for the warning--I'll come during the lowest, rainiest season I can, so hopefully, I can just be my last minute self! Fine photos!
2nd June 2016
Old Havana Scene

Definitely!
Hey Tara, definitely do not do Cuba in January, I was shocked by having to plan ahead haha! In one of my last Cuba blogs I give tips and tricks for cuba travel, stay tuned!
6th June 2016

Gorgeous photos
I had heard that buying bus tickets in Cuba required skills :) Havana looks fabulous, looking forward to your adventures in Trinidad.
7th June 2016
Old Havana Scene

Artsy
FANTASTIC

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