Got up at 6am (what does AM stand for? Fuck. Mind blown. God I’m dehydrated.) and said bye to the incredibly sweet casa owners, but not before slouting piping hot coffee all over their kitchen floor.
Got an old style cab to the bus station, got the bus to Santa Clara. Stopped at a cafe thing on the way and everyone piled off for sandwiches and smoothies, which was nice. Swear I saw the driver with two tins of beer under his arm.
Santa Clara is sweltering. No sea breeze and close narrow streets make the heat almost unbearable. And I’m already a fucking lobster. Bukkake’d myself with sun cream and headed out.
Walked the kilometre or so to Che Guavara’s monument, museum and final resting place (after a few years in a Bolivian mass grave). After seeing his image all my life plastered on t shirts and posters innumerable, it was very surreal to be physically just feet away from his remains, which are interred in a wall, Spanish style, along with many of his fallen comrades. I love the story of Castro and Che. Their bloody guerilla campaign through the jungles of Cuba and into the history books is beyond belief, and immensely inspiring.
Got a cart back to town pulled by a deathly, flea bitten horse, panting desperately. So sad. People are shit. Sanya kept telling the driver off for using the riding crop thing, much to his annoyance.
As much as I love them, the Germans seem to have a knack for pissing off everyone they meet, which is partly the reason I’ve decided to part ways with them tomorrow. Also I loathe the depressing resort towns here entirely, which they seem to love.
The Germans love a good argument with the locals – over prices, services, language, anything. Makes it a tad awkward for me when Martin is trying to persuade a taxi driver to take us the 2 miles home for the equivalent of about 70 pence. I like them, it’s just a different kind of travelling than I’m after.
Saw another famous statue of Che holding a baby, which Sanya climbed on and kissed, trampling the roses it was adorned with in the process, while Martin took selfies with his arm around the fallen revolutionary.
Monging in the room now. Heading out tonight. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get drunk.
Nope. Cuba just will not let me get arseholed, god dammit. The drunken ghost of Hemingway is bellowing with laughter.
Germans came back, we showered and got ready to go out. Went to a fancy restaurant, had a starter, huge main and 4 beers for 10cuc. Magnificent.
Went to the town square for some bevs. Drank an excitingly named cocktail called ‘Cuba Libre’ – which it turns out is a rum and cola. Sat back watching the locals dance to salsa from the live band, a huge smile on my face.
For about 2 minutes.
The first jinetero turned up as we were mid conversation and interrupted, asking where we were from. Martin said Russia, which deterred the old man not even slightly. Speaking broken English, despite our protests of not speaking the language, he attempted to sell us Che emblazoned currency – they trick tourists into swapping Cucs for Nacionales – worth about one 25th of the amount. He eventually gave up, not before begging a cigarette from Sanya.
Next up was a beer bellied transvestite in a wig and hotpants with Sylvester Stallones jaw and Emma Watsons legs. Not sure what he wanted – not a word of English. Kept inviting us to a ‘discotheque’ and when we said no he just pulled up a chair and sat with us on his mobile.
Seconds later, a tall black salsa teacher sashayed his way over and pulled Sanya out of her seat, teaching her a few step patterns and getting Martin to join in while I sipped my Cuba Libre from a safe distance. With the transvestite.
And then a rasping, spittle flecked Spanish voice was in my ear, and leathery hands on my shoulders. A cross eyed drunk pulled up a chair with the transvestite and I, and asked if I was English. I was Russian and called John. He put his arm around me and started singing Born In The USA right in my ears – which must have been hard with all the steam coming out of them.
As the salsa lesson finished, I got up for the toilet inside… which had no seat, no toilet roll, a gaping hole where the flush handle ought to have been and piss everywhere – a delight rarely witnessed outside of Leeds Fest. Upon leaving the toilet I was accosted by a forlorn looking old woman. It didn’t take exhaustive amounts of willpower to resist her requests for a tip.
I sat back with the alcoholic and the cross dresser only to find we had acquired a new member in our ever growing company. A black prostitute greeted Martin and I like old friends and kissed our cheeks before latching onto Martins arm. Martin engaged her in a heated debate on cheek-kissing etiquette in Germany compared with Cuba.
The salsa teacher was hard at work cracking onto Sanya, Martin was being invited back to his new friends’ casa, and I was being prodded to go disco dancing with the ladyboy on one side while being treated to a rum soaked serenade on the other.
So, as seemed the only thing to do, we ran away across the square, ignoring the yells of disappointment behind us. Sanya was promptly shat on by a bird, and we trudged home feeling quite sober and extremely violated.