I wanted to high-five Sandra on the four and a half-hour bus ride from Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa as this was intended to be our last long bus ride for the entire trip. More on the joke that backfired later in the blog.
Returning to Baracoa 3 years later
I was looking forward to showing Sandra this little city of 40,000+ inhabitants. I knew that being the furthest from the capital, there would be a reduction in the number of tourists in the area. After Santiago’s frantic pace, I was keen to spend a few days of fewer hassles. Our first faux par was not confirming ahead from Santiago for our accommodation – something we had learnt to do on this trip. Upon arriving at the Casa I thought I’d booked, I was told they hadn’t received our booking, but arranged another Casa 50m down the same road. I’m glad they did. We stayed with Daliana and Yonel a young couple in their 20’s. They were down to earth, relaxed, very personable and prepared simple but great meals for us. The Casa itself, extremely clean and tastefully decorated, was very central to all the tourist attractions – not there are too many here. In the main town, you can walk from one end to the other in 40 minutes (three kilometres).
On the first night, we attended the local Casa de la Trova. While the musicians were not of the same standard of Santiago, we still enjoyed a few dances.
On the final morning and with a Baracoa to Havana flight at 1630hours, we took a taxi to the Playa Maranagua beach. Although there was little sun initially, the sand was white and the water warm to swim in.
Our flight left without us
We returned to the Casa at 1230hours and set out for the airport 10km away arriving at 1500hours – only to be told that the scheduled flight left 30minutes earlier. The departure time had been put forward by two hours without our knowledge. The next one was in three days. We were due to leave Havana in two days. Both of us had thought to check with the airline that morning but neither of us did. Neither of us panicked or stressed about it. We got back in the taxi and returned to Baracoa. After considering all options from a not very helpful Cubatur representative, at 1700hours, we started our Amazing Race across the country. A four-hour TAXI (costing 140CUC) from Baracoa to Santiago to Cuba got us there at 2100hours. A 14-hour overnight bus ride (another 101CUC) left an hour later for Havana. We arrived just after midday the next day with 18 hours left to see some more sights and sounds of Cuba.
Our Amazing Race from Baracoa to Havana
That night, I checked my emails for the first time in four days only to find that the travel agency had sent me an email one hour after I logged off previously in Santiago – advising of the departure time change. Considering everything, we coped very well. No arguing. No hissy fits. Just acceptance of the situation. Needless to say, when we get back to Sydney, I’ll be chasing for an airline ticket refund. No more joking about the last bus trips for me!