Hola .. from Cuba

View from our balcony of the sunrise

Alas prince Charles and Camilla are not staying in our hotel in Cuba. We are in a three star and I’m sure they have a five star somewhere. This is my fourth time here and the first time I have stayed in less than a five star. I am excited to see what changes have happened in the five years since I was last here.

The major changes, so far as I can tell.. we go into Havana today, so that will be another blog, is in the star system. When they advertise three stars pay attention! This hotel will do for this trip, but I am disappointed as hell for my girlfriend Colleen. She loves Mazatlan in Mexico and impressing her with my love affair with Cuba is off to a poor start.

Our hotel the Atlantica is 20 minutes from old Havana .. this begs the question, Old Havana? Isn’t it all old? Being in Havana twice, I failed to grasp this I guess. Maybe revolution Square is considered part of the new? Anyway .. we are headed there today and hopefully she will get a glimpse of the Cuba I fell in love with.

The hotel experience has been challenging.. so far, hopefully no more challenges? That I have an internet card for Wi Fi took till Tuesday to sort out! See.. it is this way. The hotels get an allotted supply of internet cards which we ‘the guests’ can buy for one ‘CUC’ for an hours worth of time. One ‘Cuc’ is equal to 1.41 in Canadian money.

This change disturbs me a lot. We were kinda on par last time I was here and American money which you couldn’t exchange anyway was worth less. (a pun.. sorry) The CUC is a term for the Cuban money tourists MUST USE in Cuba. You buy it and sign a paper.. it is how the government keeps track of all foreign money entering here.

This money is not worth anything outside of Cuba.. unless you want to play monopoly with your kids. So.. back to the internet cards (Wi fi cards are still not available) “go down to the next hotel, they may have some”, informs our front desk gal. I decide to get to the bottom of this.. “WHY do you not have any,¬†AND WHEN will you get some?”

Turns out a busload of high school accapella band students checked out just before us and bought up all of the cards! A young couple we met is making the trek to the next hotel, they graciously offered¬†to get me ten cards. Jared and Jenny are fast becoming my ‘trading’ partners here.

We traded some ketchup packets and a packet of soya sauce for a fresh lime he got in Havana the day before. My gf likes fresh lime in her water. We then make a deal for more soya sauce for some coffee and they can come and get some boiling water ’50 Celsius’ from our taps yesterday, for her noodle bowls… ya I know, I will explain this at a later date..

The hotel is kinda scuzzy not dirty, but bathtubs and sinks with chipped and cracked grouting, as well as rust spots. All the taps are loose and the toilet handle is falling off. We had very little water pressure from the ‘hot tap’ which was perfect without turning on any cold water first morning.

Second morning no water.. fast forward to scalding hot with no cold water in the afternoon. I had a swim in the ocean and really needed to get the salt off, but not at any price (second degree burns). The bathroom soon became a sauna with me cursing and trying to figure out how I was going to get the salt off my body and out of my hair.

Being the resourceful gal I am.. I used a face cloth to wipe myself down and a brief respite in the scalding had me shampooing my hair. This did not last and I almost burned my scalp rinsing.. oh man.. that was close. My scalp would have matched my face which I burned in the sun the first day.

My tirade to my gf must have fell on deaf ears because I lay down for a nap and awake to her calling the front rest because we have no water (she decided to take a shower). I told her all the taps were turned off and she tried that and got water, but before I could stop her she phoned the desk to say everything is all right.

Fast forward and she is cursing and saying bad things in the steaming sauna bathroom. “How the heck am I supposed to get soap out of the crack of my ass?”she complains to me! “why are you even taking a shower when you listened to me complain about the boiling hot water?”.. is my reply!

Soap in the crack is not a good thing.. “use a facecloth” I yell back. Back on the phone to front desk. We are becoming familiar with the maintenance man, he has been to our room a few times now.. he is kinda cute. Ok my hour is up but I have so much more to say.. but breakfast is on, and then our shuttle to Havana.

I need to steal some butter packets for the rest of the days meals. Butter is available only at breakfast although bread is available at every meal. Coffee with breakfast only, if you want some for lunch or supper you must get it at the bar. Oh my, I have so much to relate but my hour is almost up .. darn!