Travelling from Matanzas to Santa Clara (The home of Che Guevera), Karen and I had another taste of how difficult it was to find transport around Cuba. After watching Mexico lose against Brazil in the morning we made our way to the bus station. It took a while, speaking with people that didn’t have a clue, but we eventually learnt that the next bus to Santa Clara wasn’t until 7 in the evening. This would have meant arriving very late in an area that we didn’t know looking for accommodation that we didn’t have.
We decided to take the adventurous route and basically take buses in the correct direction using Google maps. The first bus, a collectivo, took us to Colon for 2 CUC (£1.50). In life you get what you pay for and we paid very little for a two hour trip and ended up on a rickety old bus that looked like a War transport. I was not surprised when a girl had to lean out of the window to throw up because I wasn’t feeling so bright myself.
We gratefully got off the bus in Colon a small town that could have been used as the set for a Western. Cart horses were the main mode of transport and the town was essentially one long road with smaller ones running off. We’d been told before that local transport is just for locals and we had a dodgy experience getting on a coach (which was very normal in comparison to the previous ones).
The coach we were getting was parked outside of a lunch hall and when the driver finished his break lots of people just appeared out of nowhere. A guy who looked to be in charge negotiated a price (30 CUC which seemed excessive) with us, he then proceeded to try and skip past all of the people in the line and wouldn’t allow us to speak with the driver. He personally took the money from us and on reflection of the event we are sure that we got hustled. But we were on our way, and for half the original price of 30CUC each that he asked for.
The rest of the journey and stay in Santa Clara was pretty uneventful. We found a modest Casa Particular, 15 CUC per night and got upgraded to the owner’s second, more spacious property, after our first night due to a problem with his water tank.
We visited the Che Guevara memorial museum, where one of the army guards, as the theme of the week, mistook me for a Cuban. The museum was loaded with a bunch of junk that Che had once touched or in some cases belonged to someone who had been under Che’s command, things that had no way of proving the authenticity.
Apart from that, there wasn’t so much to do in Santa Clara. The main square was a place to hang out, there was a short shopping street and a couple of bars open at night. The food, like the rest of Cuba was average with little variety. We took a walk up a hill that provided a very nice view over the city but the three days that we spent there was more than enough.