Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cuban Street Fight!

Posted by Christopher.  Written January  23, 2014.

We wanted to see Santiago de Cuba fully, before we left so we got off our boat and walked off the dock to where a taxi was waiting for us. Actually it turned out there wasn’t a taxi waiting for us, but we sat there for about 20-30 minutes and finally he showed up. So we all squished into a car with 2 thirds of the space of the other taxis we’d taken and managed to make it down the road with both us, and the old run down taxi in one piece.

Waiting for our cab in the playground at the marina.  A rare thing to find in Cuba.
Not our cab.  I wish it had been.
We got out of the taxi at a place called Hotel Melia, where there was a small shopping and food area and a pool. We decided not to use the pool cause the day wasn’t too hot, but we grabbed a bite to eat at a more local restaurant that was right next to the hotel. The restaurant served three things; pop bottles, milkshakes, and a deep fried batter surrounding beef. For lack of a better option, we got the deed fried batter things and one milkshake each. (Well Mom drank some of ours, then realized how tasty they were so got one for herself). The meal was pretty tasty, and much tastier considering that we hadn’t had anything deep fried since the very north of the Bahamas when we caught the conchs.

The Emilio Bacardi museum.  Named after the Bacardi Rum guy.  They still have a Bacardi factory in Santiago de Cuba.

After that we got into a different taxi and took it to the downtown. There, we ended up with a sort of guide whether we wanted it or not. (We had to shake off two or three other Cuban guides first, before we realized it was fruitless). So he led us around, showing us to different places around the downtown.

I'm not sure what this building was, but it seemed like something important, since it was guarded out front.  It was right on the main square, El Centro.

Downtown Santiago de Cuba, just off the central square.
More local color.  Actually, our guide told us these cars were probably originally from Holguin, because violeta is a common color for cars there.

I was beginning to get really tired when we looked back, only to realize we must’ve had at least ten kids following us. We kept walking for a little while until eventually one of them caught up with us, and asked us if we had a pen. The other kids were closing in as we heard Mom say “Oh yeah, I have one pen”.  Alexander, Dad and I were showering her in “NO’S!” and “Put it back’s!” but mom had already translated it to Spanish and was handing him the pen. It was a very small time period between the point where the kid was handed the pen, and the point where several other kids were closing in to try and take it. Pretty soon, wild punch slaps were flying in both directions, as the smaller kid who got the pen tried to defend it from some bigger kids.  We figured that if you grow up in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, you grow up tough. Our tour guide was trying to break it up and we began to briskly walk away. Eventually, behind us we could see the kids beginning to simmer down.

The kids started to follow us as we walked up these stairs...
... and it was right here that they started to fight over the pen.

We walked around for the rest of the day and we found a store, that was kind of like a really small Wal-Mart. It had most of the foods you’d expect to find in Cuba, but the only cheese they had was imported gouda cheese.

Our guide told us that Fidel Castro had lived in this house when he was a boy (the yellow one on the left).
Eventually we got really tired, and so we decided to go home. We took a taxi and stopped right next to our marina, where we got back to our boat.

These guys were hanging around outside the marina when we got back.

So were these guys.

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