Right after we started we stopped at the nearby gas station to fill the tank and it was strange that I was asked to present my passport to buy gas. We discovered that the back tire was flat. It took 20 minutes and two government employees, one specializing in changing and one in vulcanizing to fix it for 12 CUC. Quite expensive, I guess the price is for the gringos only.
We arrived in Ciego de Avila at high noon. After asking more than ten people for directions we found Parque de la Ciudad, a nice urban park with an artificial lake and restaurants. We saw a number of interesting exhibits including some old car engines and wagons, an airplane and a collection of african animals made of car spare parts.
After lunch we continued to Camaguey. We had no idea where our casa was located, we only had a telephone number. The maze of narrow streets in the center of Camaguey can be a real nightmare for the visitor, so the owner was waiting for us at the entrance of the town holding a sign reading “Elias/griejos”! We saw him by luck, since we did not know that he would be waiting for us, but it really helped. He did not have any room availability so we followed his uncle to another casa, through the labyrinth of Camaguey streets. The room here was also very clean and as a bonus there was a roofed garage for the car.
The town center, like of Cienfuegos, Trinidad and other Cuban towns, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It was one of the first seven villages founded in Cuba by the first Spanish colonizers. Originally founded on the northern coast, it was moved here in 1528 and is built around an irregular urban pattern with larger and smaller squares and winding streets and alleys. Apparently the chaotic city plan was designed on purpose to challenge the invading pirates. The streets were full of bicycles and cycle rickshaws that serve as taxis. Camaguey is also known as the city of churches and it is the center of catholicism in Cuba.
After the long walk, we ended on the lovely Plaza del Carmen to sip mojitos. The rickshaw to the casa costed 2 CUC and we returned later to enjoy a nice dinner in Restaurant 1800 across the church of Carmen. A trio with two elders and a beautiful young lady with an enchanting voice were entertaining the guests.
On the way back we stopped at Casa de la Trova to discover the real thing in Cuban entertainment. The terrace was occupied by twenty somethings, a band was playing Cuban rock. Amazing sound and great ambience. After the show the dance floor got packed and everybody started dancing salsa the cuban way. Very cool and cheap, the cover was 2 CUC and 3 CUC for the mojitos. Next: Santiago de Cuba.