January 7th 2015
The weather today was “cold” for most Cubans, I found it a refreshing 20 degrees with sun and clouds. It rained at one point while eating breakfast. As the weather was so unpredictable, we decided to stay in Miramar and walk over to the Canadian embassy. My dad is considering spending 6 months to a year here teaching medical terminology at the university. We went to the embassy to see how he could do this.
As we waited our turn at the embassy, the person before us was complaining to the secretary of how his four and a half star hotel in Havana did not clean the bedding or towels in the rooms and in one area of the hotel, there was urine and human faeces on the floor! He was paying $300+ a night! We were all shocked. The Copacabana is definitely not five star accommodations but the hotel all around is clean and comfortable. Could you imagine paying $300+ a night and get a garbage dump? It really put into perspective how important it is to research hotels prior to committing to them when travelling.
This evening we ventured into the wild to find a Mexican restaurant that was recommended to us by Amicar, a good Cuban friend of Jennifer, the wife of Orlando who is my salsa instructor back in Edmonton. Amicar recommended the place and wrote down what he thought was the address of the restaurant. We went to catch a cab and found out all the old cars and non-taxi yellow cabs have routes they take, ie. They won’t go to a specific house but rather a landmark along a main route, much like a bus. The restaurant we were going to was deep in the heart of a neighborhood no were near downtown; therefore we had to grab a yellow taxi.
The ride to the restaurant was a little creepy as we had no clue if the driver was taking us to the right place or to a house to murder us. We did get to the restaurant in one piece after our driver asked a man on the street where it was. Seconds after arriving, a the guy who gave us directions on the street came into the restaurant and told us he could give us a ride back to our hotel after dinner. He was a persistent bugger. It’s a smart business move, seeing tourists in a neighborhood; clearly we were going to need a ride back.
Dinner was delicious, we had fresh corn tortilla chips and homemade salsas ( a cilantro lime, a fresh tomato and a hot chili one) as an appetizer followed by corn tortilla tacos filled with sautéed veggie, white rice, black beans and a big BIG plate of fresh veggies. The restaurant also offered 10 different hot sauces to go with the meal. It was a fabulous dinner, the best so far, unfortunately the bill was not as appetizing, 40 CUP total which I mean wasn’t bad when you look at the fact that everything was organic, all vegan , the portions were big and it tasted extraordinary. In Cuba though that dinner would cost one person an entire month’s salary.
The ride home was again eventful, swaying back and forth as we drove through multiple communities, but we made it back in one piece with enough energy to all squeeze together on two single beds rammed together and watch “I am legend” on my iPad. This iPad is sure coming in handy for traveling. See my post from Nepal for further details.