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Published: March 8th 2018
So the plan of attack today was to catch the bus down to Playa Ancon (beach) and just chill for the day. However, Cuba had another idea. Miss Jo had a terrible night. She woke during the early hours feeling very queasy. As the morning progressed matters seemed to get worse. She could barely get down any breakfast. Just a cup of coffee and a little bread. I grabbed the Mylanta and hydrolytes from my first aid kit. Hydrolytes and some rest seemed to help but by late morning she was not up for anything involving moving too far from the Banos. So beach day was scrapped.
I went for a wander into town on my own. My first stop was the new town square. I wanted to see if I could log into the internet there and check up on some things. The Cuban people have only had internet access for five years. To get internet you have to walk down to the town square where there is a WIFI signal. Then you have to buy a Nauta card from the Telepuntos store. There is always a line at the Telepuntos store. For those of you who remember the
days before mobile phones the Nauta card is a little like the telephone cards we used to get for public telephones, you remember those. They cost 2CUC for one hour, so whatever you are looking up, be efficient about it. From the phone you can connect to the WIFI signal, then use the 12 digit name and 12 digit password on the Nauta card to login. And viola, you have internet access…for an hour. The result is at the corner of the town square you will see dozens of people on their phone, like a huge bunch of millennials, only they are all ages.
After my failed attempt at connecting to the internet (two many skype calls going on) I wandered down to the supermarket. Our guide on the first day had shown us where it was. He explained that it was really set up for tourists and was too expensive for locals who purchase almost everything on the black market. I thought maybe I might be able to buy a cigarette lighter there. Jo lost hers in New Orleans and mine died in Havana. So we have been relying on matches provided by our hosts or the kindness
of strangers. There are a million corner shops and bars that sell cigarettes here, but where they get matches or lighters from, I have no idea. There are none to be seen. Even after queuing up at the supermarket, no deal. And when I say supermarket its more like an IGA…a small IGA. They let a certain amount of people into the store and then close and lock the doors until it starts to empty out a bit. Then the next lot are let in.
After the supermarket I made my way to Plaza Mayor for some lunch and a bit of Museum-ing. While waiting for my lunch, as an old habit I checked out my phone to see if there was a WIFI signal. Lucky me, there was. I was able to quickly log in and check out the stuff I wanted to confirm and log back out again. No blog posts though because a) I didn’t have my laptop with me and b) even if I did, I’m not terribly comfortable parading it around in public.
After lunch I had a look at some of the museums, The museum of architecture, which just looked like a
lot of furniture to me and the Museum of Archaeology, which was a bunch of bones and fragments. There were lots of displays and if I could read espanol I’m sure it would have been fascinating. I think I got a photo of Taino sculpture, but I can’t be sure. It could have been imported from Fiji for all I know.
Around mid afternoon I made my way back to the casa to find Jo feeling a little better. By this stage I was tired so I had a siesta. When I got up Jo was feeling brave enough to go out for dinner. We made our way back to Plaza Mayor. As we got close a woman approached us and offered us the menu at her Paladar. A paladar is a family owned restaurant. Since Raul Castro took over from Fidel, he has relaxed the rules on ownership, families can now open up their home to tourism businesses. Hence the Casa Particulares and Paladars have sprouted up everywhere. We agreed to go to this paladar and she led us down and alley to a house. We walk through the lounge and the kitchen and make our way up
the stairs. On the second floor is a spiral stair case which led up to the roof and the restaurant. It was just adorable. The view of the city was fantastic, the cool breeze was just sublime and the mojitos actually tasted minty (not always the case here) We could hear music from another rooftop across town but eventually a two piece band fired up at out restaurant. It really was magical. I could have stayed longer but poor Jo looked absolutely done in. So we made our way home around nine to prepare for the next days travels and get some rest.
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