Day 13: rest day in Santiago de Cuba

The heat that threatens to defeat us, the final resting spots of Fidel, and Compay Segundo (Cuban guitarist) and the hustle and bustle of a big city. It was a well needed rest day so we spent it on foot in the city.

The day heats up past 30 and with the sunshine and humidity it becomes our greatest challenge. Staying hydrated is a constant effort and I in particular, never seem to stay ahead of the game. The route, the terrain and the hills are all secondary.

We hired a human powered bicycle cart (we felt just a little wrong having someone pedal us around in the heat, but he was quite insistent) to take us on a small tour up to the Cemeterio Santa Ifigenia to view the massive important cemetery and it’s most revered occupants. Fidel Castro lays in rest next to the mausoleum of national hero José Martí. Fidel is reported to have requested no monuments or statues in his honour, and thus a very big boulder marks his place with just “Fidel” inscribed on a plaque.

There is so much busyness in the city and so much “urban” atmosphere one feels far away from the banana groves of rural Cuba. Loud music blasting from every direction and ice cream parlours everywhere! Sidewalks are narrow, full of potholes & broken cement and all kinds of hazards (as everywhere in Cuba it seems). If you walk without looking down at all times you do so at your own peril. Shoe stores, tailor shops and other stores lined the streets in the tourist area. We saw perfumes, people lined up to buy cakes, and barbecues we’re fired up everywhere. We bought Churro’s. They are deep fried dough with what tastes like cream cheese filling. Really greasy but it went down fine. (Well, not really, but we aren’t talking about that).

Our Casa owner/operator is named Manuel. Randy tells me he is a cardiologist who has practised in other countries but has returned to Cuba to help his parents with the Casa.

We are now in the second half of our adventure and really dreaming ahead to a few planned beach days at the end.

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