Monday, April 29, 2013

Santa Clara

Rode fairly quickly from Camuaguy to Santa Clara to get to the Mausoleum de Che Guevara before it closed. Of course I didn't think about what day it was...Monday. The monument was open, but the mausoleum and museum, closed. The guard said to return tomorrow at 9:30 AM. There is only one other thing that I know to do here, see the replica of the armored train that Che stopped during the battle of the revolution.

A guy on a bicycle took me to one casa that was supposed to have a good price, I followed him into the center as it started raining.My rear tire is not gripping the road well in the rain, so I was grateful to be following a bicycle. When we arrived at the first casa only to learn it was full. The next place was asking more than I wanted to pay and breakfast was extra. Now waiting for the afternoon rain and lighting to stop before going to see the train, them continue to look for lodging.

My jockey waited semi patiently for the rain to stop, so he could take me to another casa particular. In Cuba international tourists can find lodging in private home that have been authorized by the government. These casas have a sign with a blue anchor. Casa particulars that have a red anchor are for Cubans only. The typical price is 25 CUC, which is very close to $25 USD. The price is negotiable, depending on the time or day and size of the city. Breakfast and dinner may or may not be included. Overnight parking may be free or at 1 CUC ($1 USD) at a garage down the street. Internet access is always extra.

Three times I paid 15 CUC, in smaller towns. Twice the rate was lowered by asking and the third was a "promotion" rate.

When the rain stopped In Santa Clara my jockey led me to a casa that charged 15 CUC, with no breakfast and parking included. That evening I found dinner away from the center of town for 25 National Pesos or $1 USD. Breakfast consisted of fruit bought the night before; several small bananas and a large mango.

Riding around after dinner...

First stop, a monument to Che located on a hill overlooking town. A guy selling "real" Cohebas, said Che planned the attack on Bastatia's military train from this place. The bridge east of Santa Clara was already destroyed and the train was retreating when Che's forces tore up the tracks with a bulldozer.

Between historic sites I stopped for breakfast and coffee. Small egg sandwiches are about 30 cents and shot of expresso are 4 cents when you buy it from a "particular" business. A guy was selling cafe out of this living room for1 National Peso. The exchange rate is 24 National Pesos to the a United States Dollar. If you buy coffee in a tourist restaurant the price is a lot higher.

 Loaded up on caffeine went to see the train wreak memorial.

I bought a crazy second hand shirt for $1.50 USD in a second hand clothes store and rode to see Che's mausoleum. No photography is allowed in the crypt where many of the heroes of the revolution are laid to rest. Each has a likeness carved in the end stone. For some reason Che's portrait was not lite. I assume the likeness is not illuminated to discourage clandestine photographers.

Across the hall from the mausoleum is a small museum dedicated to Che. Again, photography is not allowed there either. A lady was stopped by an attendant for taking pictures with a flash, then I saw her five minutes later taking photos without a flash. I figured it was Ok to take pictures without a flash and took two pictures...before I was told photography was not allowed.Here a photograph of one of Che's pistols.

Having my gotten a huge infusion of Che, I hit the road for Havana...

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