Day 11 – The long drive to Santa Clara

25 Mar

Following an early morning prank caller, we decided that we might as well make an early start to our journey. This involved being first in the queue for the buffet breakfast at 7am. The poor chef was cooking 17 omelettes in record time.

The bus departed at 7:35am after checking with the bleary eyed travellers that their bags were onboard.  Good luck with that one.

Despite encouragement from our self appointed tour leader to take the time to improve group harmony, the time passed very quietly as most caught up on the missed hours of sleep. 

The first few hours passed easily and we stopped in Bayamo at a hotel for refreshments and a “pee pee”.

Ernesto’s rendition of the national anthem proved why he was a tour guide and not a professional singer.

“Peace is not white or black, it’s blue.”

Back on the bus he tried a couple of jokes about mangoes and being too hot.  We laughed politely.

Several hours later, at about 1:15pm, after the whole bus had read the farming section of the Whitby Gazette, twice, we ended up back at a hotel in Camaguey for lunch.  The multitude of serving staff soon disappeared as soon as they heard they had 20 to cater for.  Must have been off to grow the potatoes again.

However a very delicious ham and cheese sandwich with chips and mayonnaise did arrive 45 minutes later. By that point we would have eaten the tablecloth.  The celtic table discussions revolved around hurling and how rubbish Edinburgh were at rugby.

After a quick toilet stop, I have now perfected the art of flushing the toilet with my foot. Nothing else would make me go near it.

350km gone.  Back on the bus at 2:30pm for the second half of the trip.

To pass the time I’ll give you a run down on the people on the trip …

Ray and Helen – plumber and photographic restorer
John and Sadie – North Yorkshire – ? and Gardener
Rob and Jan – Welsh headteacher and supporter of adult learners
Damien – Northern Ireland – IT for airports – couch surfer extraordinaire.
Mick – Leeds, Yorkshire – didn’t cause the Lloyds banking crash, but did fix it.
Neville and Jackie – University lecturer and French teacher (busy learning Spanish on this trip)
Nick and Sue – Fencer and training consultant
Juliet – Works for Explore
Karen – Consultant of some description.
Dave – Liverpool / Yorkshire – retired Quantity Surveyor and all round pessimist.
Charles – North Yorkshire – Former teacher in Libya (and other places)

Absolutely nothing happened until we then arrived …

… except for a brief stop at a piece of art made of painted stones at the side of the road.  We passed fire trucks who were still dowsing a fire that had reached to the very edges of the Che Guevara picture.  The blackened landscape was in stark contrast to the green and dirt. Ernesto was getting a reputation for things not being where he said they were.  A few snaps and we continued on.

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The hotel was nowhere near anything and built as individual Indian huts.  The porters were overly attentive and they hurried our bags to the rooms, almost running to keep up – a sign of things to come.

The hotel had a pool, lots of loud annoying children and was completely full of tourists – mostly German.

We rushed to the buffet dinner – having to ask for our reserved “English” table didn’t help matters – especially as a third of our group aren’t.

Just in time to avoid the rush, but the din was horrendous. So much so that we felt that we just had to retire to the peace of the poolside bar.

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Ron punch

Then a fashion show started with a raffle to win some of it.  We were handily placed to watch the changing of the outfits. Only the sarongs would have fitted me, but thankfully I had my usual raffle luck and came away with nothing.

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Fashion show

Could have been anywhere tonight.  Disappointed in the tourist nature and isolation of the hotel.

After a few more cocktail samples I retired to find the CNN news of an airplane crash in France.

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