Day 12 – Ernesto Che Guevara, Orchids & More Rum

26 Mar

After a sumptuous buffet breakfast in the tourist hotel, we headed into Santa Clara and had a wander around the main square, including a theatre for charity and a man painting a plank of wood bright yellow in the main road.

image

Painting in the main road

A statue / water feature of a small Victorian looking child hold up a boot with water coming out reminded me of some of the better showers I’d had here.  Certainly the water fountains get more plumbing attention than the hotels. Apparently there is a similar statue in Birmingham. Who knew?

image

Also in Birmingham?

We were sent on a walk by Ernesto through the town with the scantest of directions.  By some miracle we arrived together at the site of an armoured train derailment.  This was the turning point in the revolution and resulted in the president and dictator Batista leaving Cuba three days later on 31st December 1958. I wandered around the displays trying, successfully, to avoid paying the photo tax.

image

Armoured train derailment

Back on the bus we headed to Che’s mausoleum.  He and 38 others are interred there. No cameras were allowed and we had to check them into a left luggage kiosk – with a long queue.
We were ushered silently into the mausoleum with hats being removed as requested.  Each person had a sculpted image of themselves together with a fresh red carnation. The very tasteful wood and jungle plants were used to remind visitors of the reason for the commemoration.  A flame, lit by Fidel Castro, burns eternally. There are spaces left for 5 more people who are not yet dead.

We exited into the rather more noisy museum filled with pictures and items from his life. 

Che was Argentinian and had a father of Irish descent – surname Lynch. Ernesto was his first name and “Che” is an Argentinian term of greeting – roughly translating to “Hey” in English. As he was constantly saying Che Fidel and Che Raul, it became his nickname.

He was responsible for the bank of Cuba and his signature is on some notes from the period.  He was also the ambassador to the UN. He resigned from all offices and traveled to Bolivia to start another revolution but died there.

We had time to take some pictures outside of the commemorative stones that were in place before he was interred here. His remains were only found in Bolivia in 1997.

image

image

A quick trip to the toilet – the worst ever. And some ladies with an American accent complaining about everything!

The shop was full of guidebooks but not much else.  They were building a large complex of replacement toilets nearby.

Back on the bus for another 500km, we thankfully stopped off for another ham and cheese sandwich in a place hotter than the literal hell. I think the heat affected me as I fell for another tat seller. He packaged it nicely but I don’t know if it will survive the ride home.

image

Bocadillo de jamon y queso con limon refresco

140km on the highway, skirting Havana, we headed west to the orchid garden in the rainforest of Soroa.

I shunned those that wished to just sit in the bar, for the excellent guided tour of the botanical garden where the many varieties of orchid and other plants, trees and birds were pointed out.

image

Gherkins taste like rhubarb

I was able to taste a gherkin, which surprisingly to me, grows on a tree.  Without the pickling all so common at home, they were actually very nice – tastes like rhubarb.

We stopped at the top of the garden for a refreshing fruit juice of our choice – mango, star fruit, tamarind, guava and mini pineapple. I tried the tamarind and the star fruit – both very nice.

image

Pure fruit juice of choice

Wandering back, we came across a baby elephant foot tree with a bad hair day.

image

Baby elephant foot tree

We still had another 80km to go, so settled back onto the bus, making sure we needed no “pi pi” or “ca ca” stops.

Arriving at the hotel we had to negotiate the main road as the reception was on the other side to the accommodation.  I was placed in the lone cottage in the woods, next to the ruined devil worshippers chapel.

We visited a local house which served excellent pork, taro and banana crisps and cheap rum-filled cocktails.

Afterwards three of the English couples persuaded me to have another mojito and we talked about the Viz, Broons and Oor Wullie and then fondled pussies and bitches until almost midnight when we retired and almost instantly experienced another power cut.

image

A young cat

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: