Our trip shouldn’t go around all of Cuba. There would hardly have been time to really explore the places and the road conditions are catastrophic, so longer journeys are not fun.
We take on the places Viñales, the famous Bay of Pigs, and the cities of Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara and Matanzas.
We started with Adalberto from Havana heading west to Viñales. The man is about fifty, thoughtful and had to get used to slowly speaking to me in Spanish. We passed a couple of better looking houses with front gardens on the outskirts of the city and I asked if the rich Cubans live here. “There are no rich Cubans. There are only Cubans with more money than the others”. He also explains another thing. For breakfast we always get a plate full of fruit and we raved about how good pineapple, mango and banana taste here.
Sometimes there is also guanaba and melon. I especially emphasized how much I like papayas … which Adalberto found very funny. He told me it’s called the Fruta Bomba here. Papaya is the name given to the female genitalia here … Which provided us with pubescent pleasure and which made Adalberto laugh more often. He drives us over the autopista in his old, rickety Peugeot.
The greatest thing in common with our motorway is that it is straight and multi-lane. Otherwise there is practically no traffic there, if, but then mainly horse-drawn carts, cowboys, pedestrians and other rickety cars that are much older. Masses of people want to be taken along the roadside and the landscape is characterized by plains, palm trees and rice fields.
Of course, we don’t just want to see the Autobahn, but also things in between. There are, for example, Las Terrazas and Soroa with beautiful waterfalls that we cannot miss.
On the middle way to Viñales, Adalberto’s car fails and the internal mechanic that is in every Cuban doesn’t know what to do next. We come to a cattle farm, where gauchos drive their cattle and check the car for a magnifying glass. While they don’t fix the box, we have time to talk to people.
One of the gauchos comes up to us with a pile of reeds. He explains that it is sugar cane and shows us how to nibble it.
After it is certain that the box is no longer doing anything, Adalberto organizes a new driver for us.
He travels from Viñales and picks us up, while Adalberto has to be towed back to Havana.
Adalberto’s friend introduced himself as “El Pumpo”, which caused us misunderstood pleasure. He is 37, has a wife and children in Viñales and is a real original. He drives an even more untrustworthy car, a Ford Granada built in 65, which cannot be locked, just a lever for the window – which we pass around – and has no straps.
The box can only be started via the famous two cables and is so loud that we have to yell at each other if we want to communicate something. But Pumpo honks more often than he switches. He has friends everywhere in Viñales and he honks three times for pretty women, accompanied by a whistle and a kiss in the air.
In Viñales we only arrive at night and there is only a rickety path through the bush to our new casa, which Adalberto has already organized for us. Our host family welcomes us in their little house with great joy. Usually, Cubans are only allowed to rent two rooms in their Casa Particular. There is only one here and we share their whole house with a family.
Which means that we sit together on the sofa and the little child crawls over us while the grandpa, who is tipsy from the rum, tells jokes.
By the way, you should bring two things with you to Cuba if you value a normal toilet: a toilet brush and a toilet seat!