„Traveling – It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller“
A lot of people in the world use this quotation for different reasons: as their motivation for traveling, as their inspiration or simply because they think there lies a truth in it. For me the last point counts.
We were traveling through Cuba in five groups with six or seven pupils and one teacher. Each group traveled into another city with different sights in culture, history or landscape. The groups had to consist of people you have not done a lot with so far while living on the Thor. The groups traveled to Mantanzas, Holguin, St. Spiritus, St. Clara and Bayamo.
Whilst being on excursion in Bayamo I really started to understand the meaning of that quotation. For me Cuba is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to and in the following blog post I will try to give you an insight in my new experiences, which turned me into a storyteller.
My group has been split in two parts because we didn’t get enough tickets for one bus, so we had to drive in two different buses (Lenya, Malte and Bene in one bus, Marlene E./ B.,Vicky, Paul and Leni in the other bus). So my group started as one of the first groups at 8:00 pm from our hotel straightly to the bus station. While we waited for check-in and giving away our bag packs (like in an airport), another group to Holguin got the first bus. Round about half an hour later we (Vicky, Lenya, Marlene B., Leni, Paul, Bene, Malte and me) also had to do our check-in.
After we checked in and gave away our baggage, we showed our tickets to the bus driver and chose our seats for the next 14 hours. On the journey, most of the time we slept or read books. When it began to get dark outside Marlene B. had to discover that it was crawling on our bus. Sometimes little cockroaches crawled all over the walls. After this realization, she never slept leaning against the wall anymore…
At 11:30pm the first part of my group arrived in Bayamo and there our „father“ of the casa particularis (casa paticularis is like an apartment: a Cuban family offers a room in their apartment and you can also eat with them) had been waiting and took us to his home. After a long day we went to bed very late. The other half of my group made it safely to Bayamo, as well.
The next day started at 9:00 am with a wonderful breakfast. It contained fresh papaya and omelets. After this relaxed start in the day, the whole group met at 10:00 am and decided to have a look around the city. This day we visited the „Placa de la Revolution“, “Placa de la Patria” and a statue of C. M. Cespedes and after we had seen some historical facts from the city, Bene decided to visit a hairdresser. A lot of Cuban people waited there for their new haircut and it looked like a typical hairdresser. After Bene’s hair was cut, we had to pay only 20 monera nacional (that’s round about 80 cents!) for his new haircut. At the end of the day we went to a restaurant and tried the food there.
Unfortunately, it did not taste well but was worth an experience. To get this terrible dinner out of our brains, we bought some ice cream for everybody. Ending with a lot of new information about Bayamo and some more experiences in Bayano, the day finished with a hot shower in our casa particularis.
This day we started to explore the nearer surroundings of Bayamo. First we had to get some food for the day, so we split our group in three parts. Malte and Marlene B. bought water in a supermarket, Lenya, Leni and Paul organized eight peso pizzas (that´s like pizza Margarita in Germany, but in a very small version and extremely cheap), and Vicky, Bene and I visited a typical bakery to buy bread. There we just could buy three different sorts of bread.
Afterwards we asked some Cuban people how to get to Guisa, another village close to Bayamo, where we planed to go hiking. So a man and a women described us the way to a bus station on the other side of the city.
When we arrived there, we had to ask the Cubans once more to get some more information about the arriving and leaving time of the buses because in Cuba there is no timetable for arriving or leaving times of buses, they just come when they come.
After round about ten minutes a truck, looking like a transporter for animals, stopped and brought us to Guisa. In the bus we met two girls our age who live in Guinsa, and after we had talked a lot, they offered us to show us Guisa. They gave Vicky and me lots of interesting information about Cuba and about their way of living. Meanwhile they took us to the top of a small hill where we had lunch, whilst we gazed at the amazing view. On the way back to the village they exchanged e-mails with Vicky and we told them as well as we could more about our sailing ship (in Spanish!).
Back in Bayamo we went into a „Chinese“ restaurant, which was typical Cuban and had dinner. This was another interesting dining-out experience, as the waitress told us: “We’re just pretending to be a Chinese restaurant, we aren’t one.”
In conclusion, that day I gathered a lot of new stories to tell.
On February the 14th in Germany we celebrate Valentine’s Day. The Cubans also do this, but in Cuba this day is much more important than in Germany. Early that morning men get up and buy flowers and teddy bears for their wives/girlfriends and in the whole city you can see them. This day we went to Guisa one more time to see the botanic garden. Therefore we went there once again by bus and then walked along a street between some trees and a few houses. Arriving at the garden we first saw some cactus lovely wrapped in paper because of Valentine‘s Day. The entrance fees for the garden were five CUC (~5 Dollar) but we talked to the clerks and showed them our ICAP letter (ICAP is the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos).
In the end we payed only 1 CUC per person. The garden was beautiful and our guide told us a lot about the medical use and history of the typical Cuban plants, which was very interesting. In total, we spent two hours there and then went back to Bayamo to get back to Havana at 5:30pm. The drive was very long again but luckily we could sleep over night. In Holguin we even met another group and everybody had a lot to tell.
The next day, we had to organize a bus back to our Hotel in Havana and the expedition in little groups finished with a lunch in a typical Cuban restaurant.
Finally, I can tell that through Cuba I became a storyteller, by experiencing the living Cuban history and the culture of the proud people. Of course in this blog post I was only able to tell you a little bit of my experiences in Cuba but it definitely is very important. Cuba and its inhabitants provided me with a lot of experience and in a few weeks I can tell them to my parents and friends.