After fantastic shark diving in Jardines de la Reina, we were picked up by our travel agent’s taxi at Jucaro Port to bring us to Santa Clara. We had to get our rental car at REX car office there. It was our plan to drive around Cuba. I have read that the driving could make an interesting trip to experience Cuba. And it is true. Anyway, I will write about it on the next posting.
My Dutchie and I decided to stay overnight in Santa Clara at a Casa Particular before driving around Cuba. Casa Particular is sort of a guest house. It is popular accommodation since it is cheaper than state-owned hotel, with friendlier service and sometimes, with better quality food and rooms. Thus we stayed at Hostal Vista Park, a three guest bedrooms house owned by Miguel and Noelys. We booked it through CubaCcommodation and we did not have to pay the booking in advance but we should send an e-mail or text message at least 48 hours upon arrival for (re) confirmation.
The casa was really nice, located next to the main square, Parque Vidal, at the Centrum area. Well, the Centrum of Santa Clara is relatively small where everywhere can be reached by walking. We had a huge room with high ceiling, small balcony, (noisy) air conditioning and (huge) private bathroom. And, oh, also a fridge in the room. The breakfast was splendid: fresh juices, fruits and eggs. We did order dinner in the Casa which was very fulfilling – should pay extra for dinner but it was worth of CUC.
Miguel and Noelys were very nice couple, Miguel’s English level was similar to my Spanish, but somehow our communication went well. Miguel was really excited when he found out that I am an Indonesian. It appears I was the first Indonesian ever stayed in his Casa (similar treat also happened to me in Jardines de la Reina – according to the Cuban staff, I was the first Indonesian scuba diver ever dove there). I had to write something in his guest book, and I should write it in Indonesian (as he asked, or I could also interpret his instruction wrongly). Good thing that I bring Indonesian souvenir, Indonesian batik key chains (the plan is to give a souvenir to every friendly Cuban whom we met during our trip). But then I changed my mind, I gave the couple an Indonesian batik fan, a friend’s wedding souvenir. It was a new fan, still in its box and it looked prettier than the batik key rings. I am not sure if Miguel will display this fan souvenir like other souvenirs that he got from other guests, but if he does and if there is any Indonesians stay there, they could see it was a typical Indonesian wedding souvenir with my friend’s wedding date and her name as engraved in the fan :).
Now, what is it so special about Santa Clara. It is the city where the final battle of Cuban revolution took place. The battle was led by Che Guevara. It was an important battle on the revolution that stirred General Batista to flee and Fidel Castro took over the country in December 1958. The city has Che Guevara monument along with Museum of the History of Revolution and Museum of Che Guevara. The monument and the museums are located outside of the city center, not a walking distance though, although it is possible to walk there if you can handle the heat.
Oh, finally I had a chance to sit inside of an oldtimer! Miguel was kindly arranging a classic car taxi for us to Rex Car Rental office. It was an old American car, very huge, (our huge suitcases were nicely fitted in the car), and very comfortable seats but it was bloody hot inside. I think the temperature in Santa Clara was 40 Celsius degree and inside the car was maybe 50 degree. Next time I will ask for a cabriolet one!
Just love these photos…the old, vintage cars looking so good. I fear when I finally do get to Cuba in the future, these cars may all be replaced by Kia or Toyotas 🙂
Maybe they will keep them – these old-timers have became Cuban’s tourism symbol. But it will be different of course. Hope you will get a chance to visit Cuba in its “time capsule”! (and my apology again for late reply, I lost track on some updates last week 😦 ).