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Adventures in the Caribbean: General: Golf:

Part 6 - La Gran Piedra

After the adventure in Santiago, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that our tour guide from that trip, a fellow called Angel, (pronounced anhill, or anheel) would again be our guide for the morning on our excursion to La Gran Piedra, the Big Rock, the highest point in Cuba. You sure have to climb a lot of stairs to get to it. We leave the hotel at the usual time for excursions, 8:30 a.m. after another great breakfast. The drive in takes us past several points of interest and then a long windy road up the mountain, around & around, back & forth, washed out bits of road, sheer drops, & the bus in first gear most of the way. The entire time there is this annoying woman at the back of the bus yakking away as Angel tries to tell us a bit about the local countryside & points of interest we pass. She just won't shut up. Her poor husband. We stop about 1/2 way up to examine some coffee beans on the plants & look at a some of the locals selling crafts, fruit, & coffee. We buy a small bag of coffee beans for $2 and take some pictures. I have worn my boots today, as my feet were a disaster yesterday in my sandals. To add to my woes, by favouring my foot, I have cramped my calf & blistered my heel. LOL, what a mess. I look like Mr. "I'll never ever leave you alone" from yesterday & the hotel hobbling along. Still, the boots add some more support & despite a noticeable limp, it does actually feel a bit better. We continue up the mountain in first gear & arrive at a converted coffee plantation that is now a botanical garden. Gorgeous plants & a breathtaking view. More pictures. Recent rains washed out the road so we had to walk the last km or so to the gardens. The entire time Mrs. Gabby is still prattling on. Imagine the world?s most annoying voice. That was it, only worse. Loud & obnoxious, kinda like the classic ?ugly American?! We tried to lose her but she kept on catching up with us. Several other of the tour members were noticing her & making aside comments too. Anyway, we get back on the bus then first gear to another plantation, this time abandoned. More pictures. I bought a walking stick/cane from a vendor there. Most were all scratched up from resting on the stone wall & being handled repeatedly by us tourists. I picked the best of the bunch and talked him down from $15 to $10. Back on the bus to the top. Well, as far as the busses go anyway. There were over 400 stairs next, (457 Nancy says, I think he said 474, regardless, there were A LOT!) cut into the side of the mountain we had to climb to get to the top. Thank goodness Mrs. gabby decided not to climb them. We left her behind & Nancy & I climbed up. At the top there is a steep ladder attached to the rock & we climbed that, about 30 or 40 rungs, the same as a ladder you would find on a boat only longer. Once we get there, spectacular view. I took a series of digital pictures 360o. Nancy said she can stitch them together to make a panorama. Once there though, after the exhausting climb, the place was swarming with wasps. Well, you know Nancy & wasps. Her without her kit too. After taking some pictures it was time to descend. Nancy is almost catatonic with fear due to the steepness of the ladder. I helped her down & then she was all right. We went back down the 400 or so stairs and at the bottom in a little restaurant were more canes & carvings. MUCH nicer than the one I got for the same $. Figures. Oh well, I got beat for that mask on the beach, so I bought it when I could.

In the bus on the way back Mrs. gabby is asking what everything is. LOL, these were the same things the tour guide was pointing out while she was yakking away on the way there. Everyone was snickering. Serves her right. We were thinking, Oh boy, we only have another 1/2 hour with her & then we'll never ever have to see her again. Guess what? Not only was she staying at our hotel, she lives in STRATFORD!!! YYYAAARRGGHHH!! We caught a glimpse of her briefly one other day at the resort, & she lives just outside of town so I doubt if we'll run into her again. What a joke though.

The afternoon, after patching my ailing foot, I decide screw this, I'm going swimming. I put a fresh bandage on & some moleskin to cover it & limped down to the pool. Ahhhh, blessed water. A pleasant afternoon was had by all at the swim up bar. :-)

The usual early evening cocktails at the lobby bar, but while there, the Cuban bartender had this really great looking hand tooled knife pouch on his belt. I asked him where he got it & he said that they were just for Cubans, not for tourists, a friend of his makes them to order. In asked if he could make me one. No problem, $2!!! Great, he said he would have it for us Friday.

Dinner, for the first time was lackluster. Tasty enough but it just lacked something. Too bad, it was our anniversary & we had tried to book the grill, but we were the only people who did so it didn't open. Nancy had the idea of going to the Italian a la carte, but you know my feelings about pasta. Might as well eat cardboard. We decided to forgo something that one of us would probably not enjoy at all.

Filed under Adventures in the Caribbean, Sep 26, 2005

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NEXT ENTRY: Part 7 - Snorkeling - Added on Sep 29/2005

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