Dia Tres…

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.

 

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Day 2…

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.