My Viazul bus pulled into the Varadero bus terminal about 1 p.m. I had just enjoyed a most interesting conversation with the young gentleman seated next to me on the 3-hour ride from Santa Clara. Eighteen-year-old Nicholas was traveling on his own for the first time. His parents in Germany were worried about him but had also encouraged him to get out in the world and explore. Taller than me and very mature, I would never have guessed he was 18 – I would have thought mid-twenties! After this trip he’ll return to Germany to work a few months to earn some money to help pay the $1000 it costs to attend his first semester studying Economics at a University. Imagine – $1000 per semester at a University! Something is terribly wrong with our system here in the U.S.!
We hopped a taxi together which dropped me off first at my pre-reserved Casa. Surprisingly, and for the first time in Cuba, the Casa I had reserved was already taken! But the niece of the man who owned the Casa had her own Casa just 100′ feet away, and I was taken there. The couple who had stayed at the niece’s Casa the night before had gone to the beach and not come back, but left their luggage and personal belongings in the room, so it had not yet been cleaned. Check-out time is always noon yet here it was already 1:30. I tried to go with the flow and not get upset. I was very tired, however, and needed a place to lie down. That loud rooster that kept me awake for 3 nights in a row in Remedios had taken its toll on me! The Casa woman very kindly let me lie on her couch. I was able to get some rest, though not genuine sleep.
By 2:30 the couple was not back and I had had enough! I rose, told the woman and her mother firmly but nicely that I would go elsewhere. They immediately dashed to the room, removed the luggage and all the personal belongings of the disrespectful absent couple, and began cleaning the room. The Casa woman also went quickly to the beach (only a 2 minute walk) and found the couple. They returned and I got a good look at them. Not once did they even acknowledge that they had overstayed their time which caused me to wait beyond my check-in time, or apologize to me or even make eye contact with me! Young over-privileged spoiled stupidos! Clearly, their parents didn’t teach them any manners or respect for others!
By 3 p.m. I was in my ultra-tiny but nice room. I told the Casa woman I would pay only 20 CUC for that night, and the rest of the nights I would pay the normal rate of 25 CUC, because of the inconvenience I had just experienced. She was very receptive to my desire and apologetic about the problem. She and her mother were both very sweet and helpful. The room, however, was like being back in my RV! The bathroom and bedroom were each about the same teeny size of what I live in normally in my camping rig! Still, it had a small refrigerator and was attractively appointed.
Took a quick walk to check out the beach…gorgeous turquoise blue waters, long stretches of fine white sand lined by palm trees, eensie beensie waves tickling the shoreline. Relaxing environment!
Back towards the road I found the wi-fi hotspot, and while checking email I met an older German gentleman who told me about an excellent restaurant called ‘La Rompa.’ Hunger pangs were gnawing as I walked the 14 blocks to find it. But what an absolutely delicious lobster and shrimp dinner! And the lobster is really cheap here in Cuba!
The next morning while walking on the beach, the clouds rolled in and rain began.
Returned to the Casa and used the rain-time to make on-going reservations for Matanzas, my next destination, for fixing my way-too-soft bed (the Casa owners are VERY helpful!), and for checking email again at the wi-fi hotspot only 6 blocks from the Casa.
The rain left and I returned to the beach. Kite surfers were taking advantage of the good winds and sunny afternoon.
Discovered a fabulous restaurant that evening – El Bodegon Del Gordo – On 49th Street only 1/2 block off the main drag which is named ‘1 ra.’
The sun was super hot the next day so had to dash into the ocean every now and then to cool down. Did of bit of beach-lying and people-watching. There is a guard, fully uniformed and armed, that walks up and down the beach making sure no purse snatchers are around.
Was feeling a bit out of sorts. Such tragic disparity in the world, such animal neglect and abuse, such lack of regard for life and the planet in so many ways, not just here in Cuba but around the whole world. Varadero seems to be all about money, in my opinion. Eating, drinking, lying in the sun, spending time doing very little of any consequence. Yet all around are projects that could be addressed, especially animal living conditions and health. Feeling a bit funky about the inhumanity of humanity. Might be time to move on.
Decided to visit Parque Retiro Josone which was located only 4 blocks from my Casa right along the main street of ‘1 ra.’ What a needed respite it was! A quiet sanctuary of Nature in the middle of the monetary-focused busy-ness of Varadero!
There were at least three beautiful restaurants within this gorgeous park!
All flags are flying at half-mast since Fidel Castro passed away and a somberness has enveloped this island of Cuba. All the TV stations are broadcasting non-stop 24-7 about Castro, his life, how he saved the country, and about the ceremonial procession that is beginning in Havana and going all the way to the east end of Cuba for its finish in Santiago.
Later that late afternoon I hopped an open-topped tour bus and rode all the way to the tip of the peninsula, then back. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated as it stopped at every classy skyscraper resort along the route, and there were MANY! Long before we reached the turn-around point at the land’s end, the night had already gone to pitch black! But I was able to see the ultra-rich yacht marinas and super expensive resorts that line the side of the entire peninsula. This is one of the wealthiest places in Cuba and looks NOTHING like the rest of Cuba – it’s NOT the REAL Cuba! Varadero could be any of the rich resort areas of California, or Florida, or any other exclusive tourist area – they are all very similar, in my opinion.
Back at my favorite restaurant – El Bodegon Del Gordo – beer was no longer being served! Nor any other alcoholic drink! The 10-day long ceremonial procession for Fidel Castro that would traverse the country from Havana to Santiago while stopping each day in a major city also included a ban on alcohol sales throughout the country! Wow! That was going to cost Cuba a CUC or two!
Tomorrow morning I catch a Viazul bus for Matanzas! Looking forward to the lush green mountainous landscape and being back in the REAL Cuba! Little did I know, I would be fortunate enough to get a first-hand close-up view of the Fidel Castro ceremonies as they passed through Matanzas!