Cuba by Cubana!

Trip Start Jun 06, 2008
Trip End Feb 09, 2009

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our Visas ready (the special expensive ones from Australia) our flights purchased for Cubana airlines & we are ready to go to Cuba!! woohoo! both of us were very much looking forward to this fabulous Country that lucky Tony has already visited last year. The plane, a little on the old side but Tony being a expert in this field assured me this is real flying & that the plane was in fine condition, despite the wobbly seats & one row squeezed in between each of the others! which happened to be one that we got, so only a half window view of our flight to Cuba, this is different! 1 hours trip only, thats more like it.
On descent into Cuba we plunged into some very dark thick clouds where we started bouncing around and it actually started raining on my head.. and then through our half window view we saw a lightning strike what seemed like maybe 50 meters away.. I must admit my hands were very clammy on that ride!
we landed smoothly and immediately my heart rate settled and a little thank you to the universe said.
Cuba - here we are!
after settling in our Hotel, Lincoln to be precise, where in the lobby was a giant picture of Fidel Castro & some other fellow shaking hands,we set out ready for exploration & in search of a veg place for dinner.
Some time later.. we finally found a place that looked like it served food and not just the alcoholic beverage, Havana Rum. It seemed we were in the old Habana area and things were a little harder to find here (except rum)
We were very patient with our new waiters & waitresses that didn't seem to have much to do, after 30min or so we got our plate of cabbage,beans & carrots roughly chopped up with some vinegar with floaty bits (garlic i assumed)
we were still a little hungry so went ahead & ordered the Cheese & Ham roll specifically WITHOUT THE HAM! 10min later, it came, with the ham...
he seemed to understand this time and it came back with double the amount of cheese only 5 minutes later.
we thanked them & left feeling somewhat strange about our funny experience..
on the way back whilst looking for some chocolate we walked into a supermarket only to find out it had been turned into a bar for the night. we did find some a couple of doors down in a mini snack bar. & decided to call it a night.
Alas, we knew we had to be patient & understanding with people here in Cuba so it wasn't frustrating at all, quite amusing & it wasn't always experiences like that, our next night dining was quite the opposite with a waiter who was there to please us no matter what & would say "don't mention it" with the utmost sincerity every time we thanked him. He was sure his vegetarian food would be delightful, as it was & as it was presented also!
We had a beautiful evening there, a trio played their lovely music to us, (then we bought there cd)we were right on the Malecon (esplanade) near the light house.
and the night was cheap! no surprise there.
I must talk about the happenings of the day now!!
ok, where to start!
Mission no1 - A Dentist for Clare
Mission no2 - Finding the Dentist for Clare!
After a quick cuppa at this cafe here on the Malecon, oh, no its a bar! but looks like they have juice, so we got a nice fruit box each & had a chat to some locals who knew a little english. They tried selling us cigars but we politely declined.
Back to finding the dentist,
We had the name of the place where tourists should go, thats a start.. we had a map! another bonus. we started our trek along the malecon and thought we'd pop into the Hospital Tony recognized as the one in the doco Sicko! After a short discussion in Spanish to the receptionists we discovered this was not for tourists and we should continue to the one I had written on paper. It was worth the visit anyway. we made it to a point where there was 3 streets we could go down and none of them matched up with the map & there was no correct signs.. we chose one (I don't know how!) and I guess as we were looking a little lost a young Cuban guy decided to come & help us out, his English was little but he was very keen to help & seemed to understand exactly where we needed to go, since it was daylight & we were all on foot& the streets were busy with people we decided to go along with him. Along the way we realized we were heading away from the proposed tourist hospital so we tried asking him about this, as it turned out the doctors from there were all in Venezuela that day, ohh ok, it seemed believable!
After 30 minutes of walking we made it to a medical center & waited while our friend spoke
to the receptionists, there was a bit of debate going on & we realized it wasn't happening here & we had to walk to another place. Back the way we came, Tony almost walked through the same pile of dog poo he walked in on the way, at least we knew where we were.
Next place, in luck. I barely had to wait & I was in the dentists chair, the ladies were very nice, no english but could see from my printout from the Aussie dentist what needed looking at. By the way, I was seeking treatment here as I could not afford my quote in Australia so soon before my travels (nor did I find it believable)
The dentist had a look at all my teeth carefully, scraped, tapped, spoke to the nurse a number of times, patted me on the shoulder & told me to spit (I understood the sign language)
She looked at me seriously & said, Un Problemo! and showed me which tooth. then repeated Un problemo tooth only! only 1 problem, that all! she did know a little english.
"please can you fix?"
Si, si.. and then there was the drill....
could have been quite daunting for most, and did worry me a little at first considering I could barely verbally communicate with these people, but for some reason I felt trusting to her.
aghhhhhh I blurted squirming in the chair!!!
I said no & put up with it, only 5 minutes later & it was done.
So, 1 filling done in Cuba, I paid the nurse & the dentist separately, for a fraction of a fraction of what Id have to pay at home for 1 filling.
oh & Tony had paid our guide & sent him on his way while I was in the chair. Apparently he was getting excited about us going to his place for dinner & taking photos & all sorts, I think we'd had enough for the day!
It was a quick visit & im glad of that, for myself & the people waiting in the waiting room who apparently had paid days off for there visit anyway.
Back to the hotel we walked for a wee nap after our exhausting but fulfilling day!
so, how do I come to a conclusion about my teeth, who do believe? modern technology & the western system or hands on work & people with life "vive" experience!
whats your pick?

Clare (; xo
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