Havana/ Vinales Day 2: “Cubans are not welcome here”

Alright, back to where I left off…Angel. Diana and I awake the next morning to knocks on our door. It’s Caitlin and Carolina…damn, we’ve overslept an hour. We frantically begin to pack our stuff as we are leaving Havana and heading to Viñales that day. As we pack, the girls tell us how Angel came back to their place and began banging on the door. He apologized profusely and said he was in the wrong for getting involved. Sergio (owner of the house) went to their place and said we woke up the other tourists. He also did not favor Angel in the slightest. “Cubans are not welcome here,” were his exact words, “Do not trust this man”. How strange given Sergio is a Cuban himself. Angels response was, “Not all Cubans are the same”.

We finish packing and Angel is waiting for us outside of the homestay. Sergio allows us to leave our stuff at the front since we want to visit the marketplace to shop before we head out. We apologize again, and again he warns us of Angel, and asks us to please not trust him. We shake it off and walk down the road to have breakfast. We order our meal and the cashier overcharges us. Caitlin catches this and tells him so. His response, “Do you want to do my job for me?” However, he corrects the amount we owe him and we sit and chat, waiting for our food. I use this moment to clear the air with Diana, as I do not like any ill feelings or tension…especially since we are on vacation. I apologize for leaving her, tell her it wasn’t intentional, we were simply drunk and felt like running. Lol. She accepts and thanks me for it and we go back to normal. In the meantime, everyone except Caitlin receives their food. When she asks about it, the guy simply shrugs his shoulders and smirks. He most definitely purposely forgot it.

We finish and hop into a small taxi where we head to the marketplace. We notice Angel trying to cut a deal with the driver to take us to Viñales. Wait a minute…I thought the transportation was already set up? The guy agrees to do it for what we initially agreed to pay, 80 CUC. We head to the marketplace and spend the next hour doing some shopping.

We head back to the homestay to grab our belongings and again, Sergio warns us to please be careful. At the same time, Angel informs us he will not be joining as he initially stated and he was not able to book the ride from Viñales to Varadero, and Varadero to Havana as initially promised. At this point, there’s not much we can do, Angel was still a huge help and a great tour guide so we tip him 50 CUC. We have a strong feeling this was his intention the entire time. He was smart enough to know we would decline his tour guide services had he proposed that from the very beginning…so he catered to what we wanted to hear. VERY VERY smart and sneaky Angel, but so be it. We’ll figure out the transportation once we get to Viñales. The drive is about 4 hours and we stop to eat in the middle of nowhere halfway through.

It’s a very cute spot with a TON of stray dogs begging for food.

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We all need to use the restroom. Oh, have I mentioned there is a shortage of toilet paper everywhere? Our homestay had it but besides that, you either have to tip a bathroom attendant for it or there is just none. There are no toilet seats nor is there soap either. So be sure to take a couple rolls with you and most definitely take some hand sanitizer. Luckily, Diana had snuck some into her purse.

We finish our little road trip to Viñales and are pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the scenery is. We realize this town runs off of tourists, as all the houses are homestays and Airbnbs. Ours is a small house, with a smaller guest house behind it. Two queen sized beds, a fridge, an AC, and a bathroom. It’ll do just fine. Again, we have to give our passport info but we are handed some mango frozen juices while we wait. Once done, we decide to walk the town and find a place to have a drink, snack, and connect to some Wifi.

We visit a travel agency that does tour guides, and decide upon a 4 hour horse ride that will take us through the mountains to a tobacco plantation and a coffee bean farm. It’s 20 CUC per person and we have to meet at 9am…perfect. We walk around town some more and discover some delightful music coming from a delightful band.

There’s also a random bar in the middle of the street. 

We grab a mojito at a bar that also has a live band, and before you know it, everyone is on the dance floor.

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My guy cannot dance for the life of him and he is extremely drunk. His hips did not lie though. He tells my friends and I that I look like Whitney Houston (excuse me?), and at this point, we decide we’re pretty hungry for real food. We go grab some dinner, more drinks, and relax the rest of the night.

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We’re feeling pretty great so naturally our conversation gets louder and cruder. We start talking about things women “shouldn’t talk about”, and are getting looks left and right. Oh yes! More people speak English here, it could be the locals, it could be the tourists.  Whatever. We couldn’t care less.

We end off the evening with a stroll home in high spirits. We had a great day of shopping, dancing, eating, and drinking and we’re all looking forward to an even better day tomorrow. Well…three out of four of us were.

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