CUBA 3/12/17 & 3/13/17

SORRY for the late post!
I have tried to write this blog 3 times and it keeps getting deleted, so I am crossing my fingers this time that it doesn’t. This post will be of our last full day and our last morning up until our flight πŸ™‚
ENJOY!

DAY FIVE:

Our last day 😦 We planned on having a beach day today for our last day, but we also didn’t want to waste time at the beach, when there’s so much more we wanted to do and see. We started our day around 8 AM, had breakfast and talked a bit longer than expected with our breakfast parents. We left, got back to our apartment, got ready, and walked over to the MalecΓ³n to hail a cab. We got one driver that said 40 CUC and then another cab that said 15 CUC. Its ridiculous what some people will try to charge, especially since you’re a tourist. But whatever, we got in the $15 cab and made our way to Santa Maria beach. Our cab driver was pretty cool and played music we were familiar with. The ride was smooth and we were told it would take about 30 minutes or so to get there, and it only took us around 20 so that was a plus. We only planned on staying 1.5 hours and the cab driver offered to stay, but said to make sure we are back at the car after an hour and a half otherwise what he was charging us wouldn’t be worth it for him and he would be wasting too much time just sitting around. We took his offer, and good thing we did because getting a cab around the beach is not easy at all. Most of them that were there were just waiting for people too. We got out the car and walked over to the beach. The sand was so soft and almost white. The water was CRYSTAL CLEAR. There was a sign that stated the prices for umbrellas and chairs, and we saw everyone using them, so I thought it was mandatory. We walked over to a few chairs and an umbrella that were vacant and we were quickly approached by a man that said they were reserved. So we walked a little farther away and just put our blanket and towels down. As soon as everyone sat down I went right into the water. It was warm and super calm, I LOVED IT. Joel, Michael, and Jess joined me for a little. Once we were done, we went to soak up some sun and dry off. We were over the beach pretty fast. I’m usually not, but I also didn’t wanna spend HOURS there on our last day. So we packed up and met our cab driver right on time.
**There was a restaurant right by the parking lot that let us use their restroom, just an FYI if you are interested in going and wonder where you can change or use the restroom**. We got in the cab and made our way to Chinatown. We were starving, so the guy brought us to a restaurant that is supposedly one of the best in that area. We get there and its PACKED. Theres also a wait list and they were not sure how long it would be. We didn’t want to waste time and wait so we just walked around Chinatown and waited to see if we came across another restaurant. Chinatown is super small and it seemed like a lot of things were closed and it wasn’t too crowded. We walked around for a bit and just hailed a cab. We got a cab to take us to Hotel Nacional for 4 CUC and it wasn’t THAT close either. We get to Hotel Nacional and it was filled with tourists. But that’s expected because this is considered a national monument. We walked inside and everything was old and outdated, but beautiful, nonetheless. There were a few art pieces on the walls and other historical displays around the hotel. We went out to the garden and people were sitting outside, eating and drinking. There were also two restaurants out in the garden. One that overlooks the MalecΓ³n. We walked around the hotel.a little bit more and checked out their pool area ( even if you are not staying at the hotel you can pay to use their pool and there’s a restaurant and bar by the pool as well). Once we were done, we went to try and find something to eat.
We walked out and towards the MalecΓ³n since we have to go that way to get home anyway and we bumped into the man that greeted us on our first day with Amalia at the apartment. He asked how everything was going and what we were doing and we told him we needed FOOD lol, he recommended a place around the corner from the block we were on, and he brought us inside. The restaurant was called “WAKAMBA”and it was EMPTY. We were the only ones in there and at first I was like UGH, great, this is gonna suck…. BUT I WAS WRONG. It wasn’t bad at all. We ordered pizza for the table and it was pretty damn good!! I wasn’t really interested in trying pizza in Cuba, but I was shocked at how good the pizza was LOL. We ate, and started walking back towards the MalecΓ³n. We passed a cigar shop and went in to check out prices. I completely forgot it was the 12th of the month ( cigars are half off every 12th of the month!!!) and we walked in to just buy a few to compare them with what we bought at the tobacco farm.  I bought a mini pack of Romeo and Juliet’s for 3 CUC, Joel bought a big Romeo and Juliet, and Mike bought a Cohiba. We lit the Romeo and Juliet right when we left the shop and began walking again. We were approached by a guy asking if we needed a taxi, and we kindly declined. Then he said he recommends we go to a Salsa festival at old Havana that evening and also asked if we wanted to get more cigars he knew of a place to get them cheap since it was that time of the month. He pointed us into the direction of where to buy the cigars and we started walking. We walked about 2 blocks and asked someone else for help. The guy tried to give us verbal directions and then said he would just take us. I know this seems sketchy, but he was super nice and didn’t give us any weird vibes, PLUS we had BIG JESS with us, so no need to worry haha! He brought us to a house and we were greeted by a man in this bright blue shirt with the thickest Cuban accent. He showed us what he had and said his prices. Unfortunately, he only sold them in boxes and we really didn’t need that much, considering we had a lot from the tobacco farm. We left and made our way home. We thought we were closer than we actually were and it felt like we were walking forever, but it was fun to roam around.
We got home and we each grabbed a beer and talked for a bit.  Then we got ready and head out to the Melia Cohiba hotel. We bought wifi days before but only used a few minutes and since it was our last day we figured we’d use it up and let our families know we were alive and well. We had coffee and used up the wifi, and once we were done we went across the street to a Jazz cafe/restaurant. We paid our entrance fee and sat down. It took a while to even get a menu but it was super busy so we understood. The band, Jazz and Trance, were playing and they were super entertaining. The waiter came over and took our order, unfortunately they didn’t have a lot of vegetarian options, but we were still able to get something. We ate, drank, and enjoyed the live music. Once the band was done, we stayed a little while after and then we did our last CHEERS for our last night in Cuba 😦


DAY SIX- LEAVING CUBA

Only thing we had time for today was breakfast. So we got up and got ready to go have our last breakfast with our amazing breakfast parents. Before we walked over, we all gathered our toiletries, toilet paper, and baby wipes together and put them in a bag to bring over to our breakfast parents and walked on over. We ate and talked for a little while and our breakfast mom walked over to the bags of stuff we gave them. She was so grateful and you can see it in her face, she didn’t have to say a word. She took the stuff out one by one and looked at each thing. Joel walked over to see if she knew what everything was, and she actually didn’t, so whatever she had questions about he answered. She had no idea what hair spray or hair gel or shaving cream was, and she told us that the baby wipes are so expensive there. I got super emotional watching her and I was so glad that we had all that extra stuff to give to them. It was around 10:30, and Amalia told us she would meet us around that time to take a look at the apartment and collect our money for the tour and for the sandwiches they left us for the morning of day 2. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to this amazing couple and went back to our apartment. We finished getting ready to head to the airport, cleaned up a bit and waited for Amalia. Once Amalia got there, she took a look around, we gave her the money, and she told us our cab was waiting for us outside. We said our goodbyes to her and the woman that helps her clean the apartment and we went to load the taxi. While we were putting the stuff in our taxi, we heard people saying bye. We look up and its our breakfast parents waiving from their balcony. You can tell that they were getting emotional the we were leaving because their eyes were super watery. We got in the cab and headed to the airport. Checked in, went through security, paid to be in their VIP lounge (we got unlimited food, drinks, and a free half hour of wifi), and then boarded our plane to come back home to the COLD NYC.
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THANK YOU CUBA,YOU BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, FOR TEACHING US SO MUCH AND SHOWING US SUCH AN AMAZING TIME<3 WE’LL BE SEEING YOU AGAIN VERY SOON.

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