Cuba is hot! The true summer months haven’t even hit yet and the temperatures have already reached over 38degrees Celsuis with July and August yet to come. Yowzers! I have a semi permanent sweat mustache and if I sit with my knees bent I get a trickle running down the back of my leg which feels a bit like some kind of bug crawling there. I like that a lot! I keep hoping to shed a few pounds with the amount of sweating I have been doing, but I am afraid it isn’t that easy.
Cuba is also busy. The two cities we have been to so far, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba have been busy and noisy and the streets are filled with people walking, people riding bikes, people riding motorcycles, people catching a ride on a horse drawn rickshaw or people standing in line waiting for the bus, which looks like a cattle truck. The bus is probably one of the cheapest ways to get around the city, as the lineups are long and every bus is packed, sitting and standing. It seems as though there should be less people out and about during the work day and yet there are guys sitting on park benches, watching us, guys sitting in the shade, seemingly watching us, guys standing in open doorways, not apparently working, watching us. It is a different lifestyle here, a different pace, not one that we are accostomed to. The boys clap their hands over their ears from the street noise, especially when a motorcycle goes by as they are extremely loud, not too many controls on mufflers or pollution!
We have also gotten used to saying "Non, gracias!" rather firmly sometimes because of all the hustlers. The hustlers especially seem to like the boys, Ethan in particular. Most Cubans don’t see many blonde haired children, especially three little boys all in a row. Tres ninjos, three boys, chicos, children.
We get asked, "Where you from?" a lot. We say, Canada, and they say "Toronto?" No. "Quebec?" No. "Montreal?" No. We say, Alberta and everyone just smiles and nods. I guess if you aren’t from Toronto, it doesn’t mean much to a Cuban.
Cuba is not easy to navigate around. We rented a car from Puerto Vita so that we could drive ourselves, save some money from cab fares and not have to ride the bus cross country which is very possible for a lot of other tourists in Cuba, just not possible for a family of five with three young children. People do not use maps, everything is by landmarks. Even addresses written on our casa cards use landmarks, which doesn’t mean much to someone who is trying to use a map. The cities are old and most of the signage has been ripped off, painted over or it just doesn’t exist, so we have been rather unsuccessful in locating things. We have gotten lost a lot, we have stopped to ask for directions a lot, we have driven in the opposite direction of where we need to be going a lot. Most directions have been a lot of arm waving and gesturing, which means we drive a bit more and then stop and ask someone else again just to make sure we are on the right track.
I have found Cuba to be rather overwhelming. The heat and humidity are a little too much for me. The hustlers are annoying and almost insulting after a while. Try listening to the day parking guy asking for more money when we already paid the night shift parking guy. No habla espanol! People approaching the boys and having to fend them off. We have had to have a talk with the boys about not being so friendly as they will smile, wave and high five at everyone, but that often encourages someone to follow you and try to sell you cigars or rum.
I am tired of being lost, tired of not being understood, tired of not finding what we are looking for, tired of sleeping in crappy beds and most of all, tired of being ogled. I am done with Cuba and ready to go back to the boat and our quiet way of life.