Ka-Bla-Mo! - Bayamo

Trip Start Feb 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The title of this entry might be a tad misleading. You´re probably expecting something really exciting, but in reality, Bayamo was our first taste of small town Cuban life. It´s the kind of place that you could visit for an afternoon and still manage to see it all. We spent two nights there, and it was a real test of our ability to entertain ourselves.

It was only a two hour bus journey from Santiago to Bayamo, and when we arrived there was a guy waiting for us. He seemed to be a bit of a fixer and just organised taxis to the Casa particulares. Our taxi was actually a bicycle rickshaw. The driver tied our huge bags onto the back of it and off we went. I felt so sorry for him  trying to pedal under all that extra weight. We got to the casa and were greeted by our first Cuban daddy - Arturo. We abandoned our luggage and went for a wander around to the main square. We popped into a museum and showed only the vaguest of interest in the revolutionary propaganda. We´d already over-loaded on it, so decided not to spend the extra peso visiting the museum next door.

We couldn´t find much else to do so we did what Cubans do best. We queued for the local ice-cream parlour. We had to share our table with a granny and her grandson. This was Barry´s moment to shine, and he broke out the Cuban magic box. The kid seemed to just want to eat his ice-cream but Barry is just a born entertainer and the granny seemed to be enjoying it. I think the little boy was glad to leave in the end. Who wants to be annoyed by crazy foreigners?

We were a little stuck for things to do, and thought we´d visit the Cathedral, only it was closed. The heat was so intense that we sought refuge in a little bar called La Bodeguita for a couple of refrescos.The heat had really taken it out of us so we popped home for a siesta. After that we rambled out for dinner in La Victoria. It was more than a bit of a hole, and was covered with flies. They didn´t have any soft drinks, nor water, so we were only left with beer to wash down our meal - ¨roast chicken¨ aka skin and bone, along with chicken rice. We treated ourselves to an ice-cream (which cost more than both our dinners) on the way home as we contemplated how to fill our next day.
On our second day, having seen and done it all, our mission was to organise a bus out of Bayamo. Barry ran out to pick us up some breakfast that morning. He returned, holding some drippy cakes and unidentified pastry turnovers.It turned out that the bakery around the corner was a ration shop, so he had to go around to the main square. These were the only things he could find. Hilarious, I wrang my cake out over the sink, and had no idea what it was.

We took a Bicitaxi to the bus station only to be told that we couldn´t buy tickets in advance. We would just have to show up a half an hour early tomorrow and get them then. We walked back to the town along the river, stopping off at a park filled with little stalls and a mini golf course. The locals just looked at us as if to say ¨what are you doing here?¨. Feeling the awkwardness in the air, we returned to the main square and grabbed some lunch. The most nauseating burgers you have ever seen in your life. We came to the conclusion that the only thing left to do was to get drunk. We had one drink in the lobby of the only hotel in town as we couldn´t find any bars. Then we bought 10 beers and retired to our casa for an afternoon of mini draughts, beer and crappy films.

We had seen a nice enough looking restaurant earlier on during the day on the street with the enchanted trees and giant tubes of paint for telegraph poles. It was meant to be a Spanish restaurant, La Sevillana. For a small town, they were extremely fussy about dinner dress codes. Barry wasn´t allowed into the restaurant because he was wearing shorts. So we ran home and he changed in to jeans. The maitre D welcomed us back but another waiter was shocked that we were allowed in as Barry was still wearing flip flops. It wasn´t even that fancy a place, and they only enforce the dress code for men. I could have strolled on in wearing a bin bag and they wouldn´t have cared less. Our entire meal plus two glasses of Cuban red wine (best avoided unless you like really sugary syrup) only cost us four Euros. While the guide book slams state restaurants, we found them cheap and there isn´t much difference in the quality of food or service.

Next stop Holguin!
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