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Adventures in the Caribbean: General: Golf:

Part 5 - Day Trip

Now we're into Tuesday & the full day trip to Santiago (time flies eh?) The bus ride to the city takes an hour, with a few stops to point out some various places that were important in the Cuban revolution. We stopped at some tree that there was a treaty signed between Cuba & Spain in the late 1800s when Cuba won independence from Spain. We are immediately accosted by a street hustler who thrusts this little wooden dolphin at me saying it is a gift, but could I give him some money to buy some soap. I don't know this guy from shit so no way. I get his address & once back on the bus the tour guide says he should have warned us about "those people" Stay away from them & don't give them anything he says. Next we tour San Juan Hill, the one Teddy Roosevelt & the Roughriders were famous for. I took some nice pictures, but alas these were on the film that Zehrs toasted so I'll never see them. (More on that later) We go to a school & Nancy got some nice shots of the children in their uniforms, I got some street scenes. Next, to a changing of the guard ceremony at some Cuban national heroes tomb. More pictures. Nearby we go to a rum distillery where we are introduced to Los Marinos Ron Palmas Paticruzado (crossed legged rum). Perhaps the sweetest tasting rum I have ever had. We should have brought back more, delicious just by itself. There's a nearby cigar factory. We go in, but everyone has the day off for some reason. Of course, being the tallest in the group I am immediately hit upon by some characters in the back that want to sell me some cigars on the side. Up for an adventure I briefly leave the tour group & follow these fellows into a side room where they show me packages & boxes of cigars offered at amazing discounts. Among their offerings, they want $7 for a 5 pack of Montecristo #4 (they are $18 Cdn. each, (per cigar), up here). I get the pack for $5. Sealed with the Govt. sticker & all. Then back to the tour group just in time for the guy giving a demonstration of cigar making to present me with a piece of his handiwork. LOL. We then go to this fort: Castillo Del Morro. It's hotter than Hell by now & with all the stone around it's like an oven. Plenty of street vendors selling carvings, but they're all the same & really not worth having, unless you're into that sort of thing I guess. They wanted an arm and a leg for them too. MUCH MUCH more expensive than Havana or even Varadero. Took some pics, back to the bus to take us to lunch. We board a boat & go to this little island filled with shanties called Cayo Granma. It?s named after the boat Castro returned to Cuba in at the start of the revolution. It has a restaurant where we are accosted yet again by a couple of hustlers trying to sell seashells while trying to avoid being seen by the restaurant staff. The guy sitting next to me buys some but we don't. After lunch its back to the dock.

My foot is killing me by now, walking is extremely painful and I?m heavily limping. We go to this house in downtown Santiago that was built in the 1500s. The oldest house in Cuba supposedly. I take a snap shot of a 500-year-old helmet & a sword & one of the guys in our group who had done the tour before advises me that they charge you money for taking pictures. YIKES! I put my camera away. We escape the tour without paying for the illicit pictures and are left alone for 45 minutes to "explore". Well, guess who's sitting right there in the main square? The old crippled fucker who we couldn't get rid of at the hotel. Man oh man. I can't win with this guy. He's on me like THAT. ?Let me show you around? (you can hardly understand him), ?I'll show you good stuff?.... What can I say? Man, we?re with a tour group! Finally we ditch him at the edge of the square saying we're with a tour group & go down a block or so. The architecture reminds me very much of Cartegena Columbia, a real atmosphere. Here our guide leaves us after giving me directions to a street market. I still haven't found a perpetual calendar for Andrew. We go back to the edge of the square...who's there? You guessed it. Mr. "I'm never going to leave you alone forever & ever amen" Finally, I have to say in a stern voice, as we're walking away & he's STILL following us prattling on about how good his cigars are & how great a guide he is, POR FAVOR SENOR....NO!! We finally make our escape. We find the street market and are immediately accosted by several people begging for money. You have to ignore them with a polite por favor, no. You can't help everyone. We are not ATMs. If they help me, they get helped back, but I don't take kindly to being accosted. I suppose we must stand out as gringo tourists. I?ve never thought of myself as rich, but I guess it?s all relative. Nothing here, we get a bongo for Andrew. Still no glue to be found. We high tail it to the top floor of a nearby hotel & have a beer while taking pictures of Santiago from the rooftop, free of harassment. We go back to the bus, and have to wait a couple of minutes for the guide to arrive. I mean a couple of minutes, 2 or 3. We are hit up for cigars again. Unbelievable. LOL

Filed under Adventures in the Caribbean, Sep 18, 2005

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NEXT ENTRY: Part 6 - La Gran Piedra - Added on Sep 26/2005

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