Tonight was a very emotional night in our home. I noticed after my son was sick in February that he no longer swallowed his food easily and his eating changed significantly. We started planning to wean him from the bottle and so eating solids needed to be an all-time thing. Tonight proved we may just be in for the delay of our life. I gave my son a spoonful of beans and chicken against his wishes and asked him to ‘eat up’. He paused, and with his mouth closed tears started falling down his face. I began watching him and he managed to say ‘love you’ while trying to hold the food in his mouth. It broke me down and of course I scooped him up. I didn’t let him spit it out as I wanted to really see what would happen. Especially since this was the first time I was forcing him to eat. It hurt me so much that he used ‘love you’ in that way; as if he’s apologizing for whatever he did that put him here. I held him for a while and coaxed him to chew and swallow. He just cried and cried. It was in such a mature way, I felt so guilty. He would say ‘ok’ and hold his eyes trying to not let the tears fall. I encouraged him every step of the way but it wasn’t working. For some reason, every time he swallowed I gave him another spoonful. On the third spoonful, I decided to not give him any more as I could feel his stomach quiver when he saw me loading up the spoon. I have never seen him so….broken and sorry. Even though he didn’t do anything wrong. He’s not quite 2 yet but he was so emotional about eating. It was as if he really couldn’t help it. I felt like such a bad mom. I didn’t cry in front of him but I lost it when I thought back to how long this has been going on. I felt so guilty for not being around more for him. He used to be home all day 4 days out of the week and we used to be together all day for 2 and now his one on one time has been cut way down. He now attends daycare full-time as I changed jobs and the weekends are split with daddy and me. I can’t help but feel like if I was around more, then he would be eating home meals more. I woke his father up and he comforted him. I managed to record him whenever I told him to chew and noticed he wasn’t using his teeth but was just moving the food around. His father let him spit out what was in his mouth and he ate a lil banana after awhile. Turned out he hadn’t swallowed any of what he was fed. I couldn’t just sit around. I grabbed my handbag and went to the supermarket. I got Pediasure, multivitamins, pouch purees, All Bran, Fibre 1 and a rusk he became fond of during our stay in Cuba. When I got in 1 gave him a teaspoon of cod liver oil. This weekend we will be taking him to take a look at those tonsils; just to be sure. I never thought we would be going through an eating war as he used to eat EVERYTHING! Sigh. Guess things can’t go smoothly for too long!
We all slept until 12pm due to the weariness of our day trip. Baby and I had some oatmeal we brought with us and we just hung out for a bit. My hair was a mess and I did not bring a single comb or brush with me. I had to rely on an old toothbrush I found in my bag, water and some hair oil I brought to work some magic. After I did the best I could, we got dressed and made our way through the door.
I had a set of gift bags left and so we took them to a primary school close by. We went to the bank to change money but there was a problem and we didn’t quite understand so we got stuck with the hotel rate. This wasn’t so bad as we had a WiFi card we had to use and once that was done we cruised down to the Malecon. The rain caught us and we ran back to Hotel Presidente and as soon as we got there it stopped! Not even a minute! We were grateful as we didn’t have an umbrella. There is one in our casa but we left it.
Anyway, today we were going to go the Museum of Belles Artes (again), the museum of chocolate and the jardin for Princess Diana but we were cutting it too close. So we changed course. 5pm is the common closing time for most attractions and we left the hotel to 4. We hailed a cab and asked to be brought to the Ferry. Here, we paid $0.10 CUP each and hopped on. We were going to the island of Casablanca. We enjoyed peanuts and chicharron from the vendors. The ride was very short and smooth and we enjoyed the view. We were going to see El Christo de La Habana. That is, if we didn’t miss and fall in the water. You literally had to jump off the boat on to land. It was quite interesting.
Kids have a way of bringing people together and as avid football fanatics, baby asked to walk when he saw a ball being kicked around. Hubs and baby played a bit with the guys on the street then we were back to our hike up a path. The view of Havana was beautiful. I imagined at nights it’s even more glorious. We took our pics and once again baby found himself a new group of friends. This time, musicians. They wittingly gave him 2 maracas and allowed him to play as they sang and played their instruments. We later learned that we grossly overpaid for the instruments but as per hubs it was for the memories. There is also an electric train to see here but we weren’t sure about walking around and so we decided to catch the next ferry. We bought some churros from a street vendor and while they were yummy, they almost made me sick. I knew they looked bad, they way they were being made wasn’t sanitary either but they were delicious. Immodium saved the day thankfully. We went back to Havana and walked about the city before stopping in to get our very last peso pizza. 1 CUC of deliciousness. This time with peppers and onions! We sat beside an older man on a bench and ate as he cat called the girls as they went by. All while telling hubs that he can’t look! Lol. We decided to walk to see the canon show but as we were 2 hours ahead we cruised on the Malecon as we went along. At 9pm, it went off but we were at the wrong spot and it wasn’t a big a bang as we expected. We laughed at our misfortune and started walking towards our home before hailing a cab.
We packed our things and headed to dinner at Idillio’s again. I began to feel sick after eating the paella and so we took off. I had a headache from when we were chilling on the Malecon and it wouldn’t go away. Plus, all that street food was starting to ride my stomach so I knocked out and left the boys to party.
I thanked hubbs for waking me up at 6am but didn’t actually move. He was the only one that heard the alarm; thank goodness. Baby and I hugged up on each other and slept as he grew tired of trying to get me out of bed. When he started to cuss us out, I thanked him again and crawled to the washroom. It was 6:30am and we had less than an hour to make the bus. I sterilized bottles them showered while he prepped baby bag, snacks and water.
We were about to miss our bus and so I quickly dressed baby, grabbed the garbage and we were out. I ran all the way to Hotel Presidente in an effort to hold the bus, only to get there and be told we were on the list! We paid 134 CUC for this trip! A phone call later and our bus was a different one from the tour we booked with and hadn’t arrived yet. I ordered us some breakfast and as we were about to partake the bus came. Off to Vinales we go, or so we thought. We made a number of stops to pick up passengers at other hotels then we were off at 8:45am! Baby was knocked out soon after thankfully. We made a washroom stop and the attendant was displeased when I didn’t need to buy her tissue and shared my flushable wipes with the lady beside me who chatted me up as we waited in line.
If she could have kicked in into the dingy stall she would have! Lol We were en route again and the scenery was very relaxing. Our first stop was the Guayabita rum factory, where we got to see the bottling of rum and taste the fruit. We purchased 4 bottles from their shop for 20 CUC and were en route again. I knocked out and when I woke up we were being shown 2 men dressed as indians with a eagle and a Cuban hutia. It was very odd to see as they were just in a circle with no other indians around. I get that it was a re-enactment but it was very weird to see. I went to use the washroom during this part of the tour and before the attendant would let me in she said .60 CUC. I was a bit confused and was about to walk away but I really needed to pee and she let me pass. I was extremely annoyed at this practice, because people will tip on their own. The only coin I had was 1 CUC so I paid it as she literally stood in the entrance when I was about to exit. Either you were being pushed to buy toilet tissue or access to use the fucking toilet??! Disgusting. Later at lunch, I was offered the child seat and instead of bringing it over the same woman was beckoning me to come to her.
I didn’t go and we held our baby in our lap. I wasn’t going to pay to use a fucking seat! Anyway, after I passed the ‘indian’ mess they had displayed, we all watched as fresh cane was grinded with slices of fresh pineapple. This was 2 CUC and we enjoyed a cup. It was even more delicious with some Guayabita for 3 more CUCs. I had promised baby ice cream from the day before and the lil bugger remembered so I bought a small tub for us all to share. Then came the adventure we were waiting for! We ventured in and through a cave. This was an amazing experience and was very much worth it! It was majestic to me, I felt so cool! As a plus, in order to exit we got a boat ride around the cave and out to nearby steps. A hat was passed around and I kindly passed it forward.
This was a pretty neat experience. We all piled into the nearby restaurant and ate a very nice lunch of fruits, salad, chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, rice pudding and coffee. Man, I will miss Cuban coffee, it is definitely a delight. I stopped drinking it at the start of the year and refuse to even purchase a bag to take home with us! Sigh. Our next stop was at a tobacco farm. This was so serene and felt unreal. We watched one being rolled then all took turns at the delicacy. It was delicious! We bought 10 for 20 CUC and was ushered off the farm to the Mural de le Historia. This is a must see but will leave you with questions. First being, why? Lol. Baby rode a cow and we were amazed that he wasn’t scared at all. We were told to give what we can so I gave 2 CUCs and we enjoyed sipping on a pina colada for another 3 CUCs. Our last stop was at the lookout and this was majestic as well. Vinales is really the ‘Garden of Cuba’ and the ride home was just as scenic. We couldn’t wait to get through the door and shower. We were starving and tired! We showered, packed our luggage and bought dinner at El Idillio to go and came back home. I finally got to try Ropa Vieja and hubs got shrimp and lobster. They were both ok, a bit heavy on the sauce but we had our fill and was chilling about for the night!
From the night before our casa owner let us know that they would be replacing the elevator and so it wouldn’t be available from 9am-12pm. We were supposed to wake up and leave with him to go on the road but when he came by at 8:45am we couldn’t make it! Lol. We did stay awake though. We washed and sterilized bottles then prepped for the day. We booked our tour with Cubatur at Hotel Presidente then went to the bank to change money. Now listen, the eyebrow game in this place is something crazy. Men and women alike have well done brows and well, I got a little jealous. We made a stop at a barber shop down the road and for 1 CUC I was brought up to standard! I loved them!
We walked down to the Malecon and caught a cab to what should have been Almances San Jose to do some souvenir shopping. The driver was unable to find the place despite asking multiple people on the way, so we decided to just go to El Capitolo and sort ourselves out from there as it is pretty central. All that driving for only 3 CUC was a steal to me. It was just a bit annoying that taxis in Havana don’t know a lot of places. Even when they asked other taxi drivers. As faith would have it, we got dropped off on San Jose street and there was a sounvenir shop right there! Sigh.
We went in for a bit, but the prices were out of our reach. While walking down the street I felt a loose grip and realized that my slippers had gone rogue and no longer wanted to protect my feet:-(
My hero got me a new pair for 7 CUC at said souvenir shop. *facepalm*. Once back on track we made our way to Sloppy Joes for a delicious lunch! My gosh! The meals were so good and we had a very refreshing Coke! Our sloppy joe, chicken with vegetables sandwich, mojito and coke came to 19 CUC. We couldn’t complain at all. It had a North American flair and was the perfect break we needed from all things Cuban. It felt like we were in an embassy lol. Once we hit those doors, the annoyance from struggling to communicate all over, picking food conscientiously to avoid illness and dealing with the unorganized taxi system just floated away. It truly felt like a safe haven and the food being excellent was a much needed bonus! Even baby ate a lil. We have no complaints even though we had to maneuver eating while controlling him on a stool as there’s no tables and chairs. I wanted to go to the Museum of Belles Artes but as they were closed on Mondays we went across the road to the Museum of the Revolution.
It was 8 CUC each and while it was very interesting, it was also extremely biased. A few pieces were in English and an English speaking guide is there if you so desire.
There were a few pieces of blood stained clothes of warriors that gave me the creeps. As we walked through each room every one was very quietly, it was as if they were all taken aback at the blatant victimization in the language or the brutality in the revolution itself. Either way, it’s a MUST see. My hubby thoroughly enjoyed it and seeing military artillery such as planes, boats and trucks was very cool as well. Not to mention we got souvenir pieces, 10 pieces for 5 CUC, a leather covered ball for 2 CUC and 3 shot glasses 5 CUC. We shared a small tub of ice cream before heading out. We walked 7 mins to Plaza Vieja where we just chilled on the side of the curb for a good hour. I walked around for a bit but there wasn’t much more here for me as it was a bit hard to understand and locate the attractions in this area. Nothing is in English as the country doesn’t cater to English speakers despite the fact that Cubans don’t visit these attractions or know of them! Due to it popularity, I tried a croissant with ham and cheese from Cafe Bohemia and much was left to desired. After a while we decided to go home. We walked toward the Plaza de la San Fransisco to find the Malecon spot we left from before. During this walk we saw some teachers outside a school and gave them a few bags of the gifts we brought to give to the students. At the plaza we found the Jardin de Teresa Calcutta. As an extremely non religious person, I enjoyed this garden so much! I was raised in Catholic schools all my life and so the works of Mother Teresa was taught all over. It was a very beautiful, serene rest spot and I would recommend it as a break from the crowds, haggling and hustle of the streets. We spent a few minutes here then caught the cab of a lifetime! 6 CUC to take us to the monument of Calixto Garcia. We said no, and it went down to 5. We decided to take it and things got interesting. I wanted to stop and take a photo of a beautiful monument of a face I saw and somehow we communicated that. I showed him where it was and he turned around in the street and allowed me to take a couple pictures. It was so beautiful. When I was done I got back in the car but he didn’t drive off. He spoke and all I caught was ‘Donde?’ And I told him the same destination and he got so upset, hitting his steering wheel and all! I said Cuantos, quentas? (How much?) and the tirade continued as we sat quietly watching him. When he was done, he said 8 CUC to Hotel Presidente and we said ok. We had no issues paying more but his reaction caught us so off guard. When he got to Hotel Presidente, would you believe he got out, ran around to my door helped me out to the point of almost lifting me. Then, he took out all of our bags and took my son who was sleeping from the husband and helped him out as well. Introduced himself and asked us our names then he did a curtsy!! What a quack!! I thought this was hilarious as this comes after mentioning to hubs that almost every tourist I saw had a very shocked look on their face when their cab rides come to an end. We even witnessed 2 quarrels between taxi and guests over the cost of their splashy old car ride. The taxi world in Havana is very funny, a sad funny if you will. They hardly learn to communicate with you and they make up their prices as they go. The biggest trip we found was when we said no to their prices, they would say they are not a ‘collectivo’ when they are! As they will toot at people asking if they need a taxi while you’re in their car. When you say no they will also lower the price! You have to haggle twice as hard, or just walk! Havana, I must say is a walking city. There is TONS to see and do everywhere, so the walk isn’t dreadful. There are monuments all over the city and even though you can’t Google ino on a lot them they are still unique. There’s a lot of Greek influences across the city as well. We mainly took taxi or collectivos to far areas but walked around for the most part with baby in hand. The only regret is not bringing an umbrella stroller, which while it might not make it due to the roads; would have eased the child carrying burden somewhat. We had a good laugh at crazy man ‘Luis’ and walked home to prep for our day. We realized we needed to change more money for our final 2 days as we blew the budget of 40 CUC per day. While daddy when to Hotel Presidente, baby and I went to the park but the slide was broken and almost ripped a chunk of his skin out. Another section had no bars on either side and he got scared to play so we left. When we went home a Celine Dion concert was going on in English and we sang out our little hearts as she belted hit after hit after hit! Even hubby ‘air guitared’ it once or twice. Dinner was a to go box of queso pizza from Razones after prepping for our day tour to Vinales and doing a light packing for our departure home. There was a music video countdown going on and we had fun in bed singing all the songs and dancing, enjoying the fact that Cuban people would know certain entertainers such as Justin Timberlake, Sean Paul, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara (Btown represent!!), The Weekend, Selena Gomez, Chainsmokers, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Sia and Rae Sremmurd. We especially cheered when Sean Paul hit the screen singing Rock a bye baby, rock a bye! As ignorant as it sounds we cheered as if these artistes ‘made it’ lol. Sadly, there was no Drake or Justin Beiber. Dia Cinco was complete!
Hubby was under the weather so after sterilizing bottles, baby and I went for a walk on Avenue de los Presidentes. We stopped on a bench and I fed him a bottle as the traffic rolled on. This strip is perfect for strolls, day or night.
There’s very nice restaurants on the way up and down and a couple notable monuments. We stopped at home to change his shoes as I wanted him to walk but every time I put him down he did so with a limp.
I later learned that he just didn’t want to walk at all and was tricking me. Anyway, on our second stroll we saw a sign for a Bodega and decided to step in. It turned out to be a market with veggies, meats and fruits. It wasn’t as big as a market should be and the few stalls did not have an ample amount but a decent variety. It isn’t uncommon to go into stores and she empty shelves or fridges.
I wanted to purchase a mango, some bananas and a bag of pineapple but it was hard to control baby, understand the signs and struggle asking for prices. Plus, the bananas were so small every time I looked away he found himself breaking the fingers off the bunch. Eventually we went back to our Casa. We got prepped for the day and was off!
We made a stop at the Simon Bolivar statue and took pics with the mural. We were on our way to Callejon de Hammel for the Sunday morning Rumba sessions. We tried to get a cab but the prices were outrageous! We were told 4, 5 and 8 CUC for a 5 minutes drive! We decided to walk the 25 minutes instead. The streets of Havana are extremely beautiful. The design of the buildings, to the people just lounging about, the children barefoot playing in the streets. Even getting a view of abandoned buildings is easy on the eyes. When we finally got to our destination the crowds were more than we bargained for.
The meagre alleyway was pouring with people. It was so tight and hot. We made our way through the crowd and stop wherever we saw shade. As daddy was tall he took videos so that I could see later on, as I was stuck behind an extremely tall man.
We stayed for about 30 minutes then we headed out. It was a beautiful slice of culture but the crowd was unbearable. We paid 10 CUC for a bicycle taxi to Plaza de Revolucion where we took as many pictures as we could before the sun started lifting my soul!
The bicycle operator was clearly a hard worker but I didn’t not feel good having him carry our weight like that. It isn’t a job I’d wish on my worst enemy and this was the only time we took one. We flagged down a taxi and 5 CUC took us to Hotel Presidente where we bought an internet card, caught up with our loved ones, then made our way to Mi Coconuco. Picture a laid back set up of white plastic table and chairs. People dressed to the nines enjoying the cool breeze and view of the Malecon. We went with the 2L of beer, a cheese pizza and a pork and fried plantains plate. The pork could have stayed, though it wasn’t bad, it was ok. We wanted to try a jerk stand right next door and bought 2 boxes of street meat. Jamaicans can’t avoid jerk, or variations of it, especially when we see it being sold outside of our country. It was very tasty with the the onion, scallion marinade they pour over it. I didn’t eat too much though as I was already taking a chance with the pork from next door. We strolled home burnt from the sun and knocked out for an evening nap. Our casa owner knocked just as I woke up and we caught him up on our day. We decided to walk to city in the night and walked up and down the Ave de los Presidentes again, then to Razones (my fave spot) to get a shot, a pollo asado with rice and peas and plantains and a serving of ribs for 13 CUC! We headed home and Money Train was on the TV in English. We snuggled up until we fell asleep and that was our day!
I groaned as they rocked my body in an effort to wake me up but I opened my eyes instead of fighting back. ‘It was 4pm’ my husband kid and I jumped up thinking we had lost a day! It was only 11am and so we hung about for a bit. Today we’d see Fusterlandia and head to the beach close by after. Baby was a little under the weather and so we tried to create some sort of zen atmosphere so that he could sleep. He had a hard time and when he looked outside and started crying for us to open the door we apologized and quickly got dressed to go about our day. How could we waste his time like that? lol As we were about to leave, he threw up and caused a little panic but in no time he was back to being himself. We stood outside and hailed a ‘collectivo’. It took a good 5 minutes to get the address down pat and once again our maps.me app saved the day as that was what the driver and his passenger used to locate our first destination. He didn’t know of the place but he asked for 5 CUC and we hopped right in. He made a stop to ask a lady friend for the destination and when we crossed cities he asked another driver but both him and his passenger shrugged and said ‘no’. He eventually stopped where a fleet of taxi men were and as luck would have it, the man spoke English and was able to tell him exactly where to go. He let us know that we were very far for the driver and that it would be an additional 5 CUC. We didn’t mind honestly, as it was 40 CUC for a private taxi. We genuinely didn’t know where the fuck we were going either. All we knew as per the app was that we were 20 minutes away and the driver was very patient. He even played with the baby at random stop lights. We were grateful for his willingness to help. Fursterlandia was awe inspiring.
We eavesdropped on the tour guides spiel and heard that the artist does the homes free of cost. The concept is mind blowing and what it does foe the community is beyond exemplary. When we got to the main attraction a group of kids approached us but we couldn’t understand them. We saw a man go to them and give them his coins and told them to share. We did the same without thinking too much about it. I asked for a picture and they cracked us up with their poses!! One of the boys broke my hubbs heart when he asked for a baseball. We had actually brought 2 and left 1 at the casa. The other we had already given away.
I would recommend that If you decide to take gifts for children, go on the weekend and take them with you to Jaimanitas barrio, as the children will be around. After Fusterlandia we decided to check out the beach close by as it said it was only a minute away; Playa de Jamainatas. We were told to go around to get in and ended up walking a good 5 minutes away and had to walk through a path that led to a rocky, super small piece of beach.
We decided to go back around and walk across the baseball field then cut back across the hotel property. It was too much trouble and the beach just wasn’t worth it. I got my beach fix with a dip and we left. The smell of the water stained our clothes. Luckily I had a few sachets of liquid Tide and was able to do a small soak and rinse when we got home. Sadly, this was the only time we got to go to the beach as the Playa del Este region was over 45 mins away.
We crossed the road and stood under a bus stop that was also designed by Jose Fuster. We flagged down a collectivo and presented them with our map. The driver and a female passenger worked things out and it would be 12 CUC. We agreed and got in. On the way, the 2nd passenger told us that he spoke a little English and was there studying to be a doctor. He also told us that they were planning to raise the price and that we should say no and pay the exact fare we agreed on.
We were grateful and as soon as we got to an avenue we recognized, I said ‘basta aqui por favor’, paid our fare and we walked home. The baby fell asleep from the weariness of the car ride and my hubby joined him shortly after. I showered and went to walk the streets as sleep just would not come. I checked out a pastry shop and bought some cakes. I then visited a paladar that was recommended to us but was amazed by the setting. The prices were obviously way out of our league. A café bombon and an assorted croquettes from the tapas menu and a bag to take home my croquettes was almost 8 CUC!! I chilled there for a bit and caught up on my blog posts then made my way home. The VIP Havana ambience was real nice and I would recommend it as a date spot. It just wasn’t in our budget.
At our casa we played cards until we were ready to touch the streets again. At about 9pm, all 3 ventured out to Huron Azul for a Jazz show. We paid 5 CUC each and enjoyed live singing from a few artistes. We were extremely under dressed, hubs in shorts and I in tennis shoes. Nevertheless, we laughed at our situation and enjoyed the show. Only one performer spoke English and she turned out to be the best of the 3 we saw. Upon inquiry we found out that her name was ‘Choka?’ (not sure of spelling) and had been invited by another performer. We tried to get a picture but it seemed like she was gone and we weren’t in the mood to be any more trouble. You see, when we walked in all eyes stared at us for awhile. Not only were we carrying a baby out this late but we clearly looked like we rolled off the back of a truck.
Everyone else was formally dressed. We left about 10:20 and went to El Idillio for a pleasant meal! So fresh and delicious, we both cleaned our plates. The rice with beans was the only thing that didn’t meet expectations but we were full regardless. We both had lobster meals and cocktails for under 25 CUC. The set-up of the restaurant was so perfect for families and babies. We didn’t want him disturbing other guests as he is a wanderer so we played racing and ring games together on the drive way as daddy settled the cheque. We were seated outside by garage and once all packed up, we strolled home to watch Backyardigans until we all fell asleep.
After hanging out for a bit, the boys wanted to sleep for a little bit more. I people watched by the window for almost an hour but sleep would not come. I decided to shower, get dressed and walk the city. We had to change more money and so I decided to check what time the bank opened so that we can get in before there would be a line up.
There’s lines for everything and everywhere! Lines are ‘so Cuban’, they have a process. You walk up and ask who is last in line, the person answers and you know when your turn will be. So basically, no standing around if you don’t want to and you can go about your business and come right back. Nevertheless, I ate some cereal we brought and said my adieus.
Thankfully we had listened to a YouTuber and downloaded the maps.me app. It was a savior and works amazing off-line. I had no issues going where I needed to and so I had more room to look around and take things in. Cuban people are very beautiful, naturally. I noticed that the most make up they wore was a little liner under the eyes or some mascara. The men however had brows done, a cool face, balmed lips and cologne strong enough to haul a whale. It was so sweet to see how parents fawned over their children as they were on their way to school.
Oddly enough though, it was a bit chillier than typical morning time. The breeze from the Malecon is very strong. There is absolutely no way to avoid it, there is a constant chill over the city. I arrived at the bank but couldn’t remember the phrase to say so when the person after me came and found her place, I decided to go after. So when the next person came I answered ‘yo’ when they asked who’s last in line. A constant culture shock for me is the uber short skirts little girls wore to school and women wore to work with their fishnet stockings. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
The bank lets in two people at a time. A young lady at the door calls in the next person and you sit on one of the 2 seats in front of each teller booth. When they were ready for you the security guard pointed you to the teller that would assist. I walked up and butchered trying to say I needed to make an exchange. I was told no phones in the bank when said guard caught my eyes and pointed at the signs. I was basically left without my language app and eventually just held up the money when the teller and I weren’t making it at all. He was pleasant and wrote the exchange on a piece of paper for me, then said 2 words, passport and address. I handed him both as we had a printed paper with my address on it for whenever we needed it.
It was a quick process and I was on my way. I managed to get 2 internet cards from the hotel by telling the front desk lady I needed to contact my family.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t have sold it to me once I answered no when she asked if I as staying there. I wanted to go to the salon to get my toenails polished as they were looking shabby but half way there I decided to go home as I wanted to start the day. I popped in to a bodega to see what was on sale and then head upstairs to our Casa.
I struggled with the door and could hear that the amount of people waiting on the elevator was increasing. I banged the door and called for my husband but every time I did someone waiting downstairs yelled something back lol. Eventually I went back downstairs and freed up the lift. I went around the back but halfway up the stairs I didn’t feel safe as it was very decrepit. I decided to try the door again and was in this time! Sigh. We got dressed and were off. We went back to the bank to test out our bank cards but none of them worked. My husband changed some money and we strolled down to the Malecon to hang for a bit. After awhile, we caught a taxi to Place de armes for 3 CUC.
The driver gave us somewhat of a guided tour even though he didn’t speak English, we caught what we could. Later that night when we told our casa owner all the things he told us he laughed! Thank goodness we had our wits about us and declined every offer he gave us to go off course for more photography! He especially chuckled at this man giving us a tour of Che’s home when Che didn’t even live in that city!! Sigh. We did the typical walk around and saw Plaza des Armes, Plaza de la Cathedral, Plaza de San Francisco, then Parque Central and El capitolio.
If we had read up on a map of these places, we would have known to start at Plaza de la cathedral, then walk to Plaza des Armes, then Plaza des San Fransico and follow Obispo all the way to the latter attractions.
I unfortunately lost 10 CUC in the during all the walking. All in all it was good to walk around the city. We didn’t want to spend on museums etc so soon. so we didn’t. We probably wouldn’t do too many and could probably guess they were all in Spanish like most of the sites as Cuba does not cater to English speakers.
All popular as the city itself, these locations are where you will find jinteros/jinteras and an exhausting vulture like culture for selling tours, taxis, restaurants, street food etc. We maneuvered ok but didn’t want to ask too many questions as we didn’t know who would help and let that be it.
We tried peso pizza which was absolutely delicious and some ice cream cakes that was just right. We hopped in a collectivo and got off at the end of our street in search of a decent meal. We couldn’t quite remember the names of the restaurants we were told about the day before. A man standing beside on the side of the street told us he could take us to an affordable paladar that wasn’t too far, that sold lobster. Usually, it’s obviously a horrible idea to follow strangers especially when you don’t know the language but this seemed to be common. We walked for what felt like eternity.
The price of the meals were extremely expensive. The average meal was 10 CUC compared to 5 CUC we would pay at Razones. I felt a little annoyed, especially since he made a face when I told him we would just go to Razones. We had already walked way too far and was too tired to leave. So we ordered a beer, agua con gas (sparkling water) and a Cubano sandwich. A $10 bill for not much, even though the sandwich was delicioso.
We walked home and was knocked out a few moments after coming through the door.
After our nap, we chit chat with owner casa owner for a bit before getting dressed and going to eat at Razones again. We absolutely love this paladar!
It is very reasonably priced with huge servings and the food tasted good.
We had our meal and went to the Hotel Presidente to use our internet cards. We had no issues signing on and was able to converse with a few people. Using apps such as Instagram was torture but overall our purpose was met. We strolled home and went straight to bed.