We escaped from Havana easily. We drove through little villages and towns along the north shore of Cuba on CN. On one side we had frequent glimpses of the sea while on the other there was forest. We did not explore the playas because we were on our way to Varadero. We stopped for lunch at Guanabo at a tiny but popular little restaurant. Pizza seemed to be the most requested item so we ordered it....and yes it was the first homemade pizza we had eaten....delicious.
We were surprised to see nodding horses along Playa Januco. At the town was what looked like a gas powered power plant. Further along we saw another gas plant.
We stopped for gas and to buy water. The man ahead paid 380 COP's and we had to pay 3.8o CUC's. There are 24 COP's to 1 CUC.
Matanzas is a large spreadout city along Baia de Matanza. It seemed a pretty little town as we drove through.
Soon we were crossing the bridge to Varadero. It is on a 25 km narrow stretch of land with white sandy beach the entire length. We drove to the end...a nature preserve...and back to the little town of Varadero. All-inclusive resorts flank the sandy side. Local workers at the resort reside in the little town. We were lucky to find a casa particulaire with a wonderful family who made us feel at home. We spent the next day on the beach....in beautiful warm sunshine. Food here is very hit and miss...even in the same restaurant. We sat and watched the beautiful ola cars as they drove along the beach. It is amazing how many pink convertibles there are.
We found it hard to say good-bye to the warm friendly family we had stayed with. We drove east again. This time through sugarcane, vegetable farms, and the occasional rice paddy. Traffic was light. We were an oddity as we passed through the villages and towns. We seemed to be more inland and glimpses of the sea were very occasional. We saw 3 working sugarcane mills and several not. Att Hector Rodriguez Mills several rail cars loaded with 6" pieces of sugarcane waited to be unloaded. Interesting especially since in other countries the whole stalk is taken to the mill.
Lunch we had in a little restaurant in the city of Sagua la Grande in an empty restaurant where I washed my hands in ?dishwater! At the entrance sat a chicken leg and thigh uncooked and a cluster of sausages. Strange! The people were welcoming even tho' we just ordered sandwiches and a tomato salad...surprise! We thought the ham sandwiches came with the tomatoes in it.
From here it was a short drive inland to Santa Clara. Sun and cloud followed us. We went searching for the airport and the rental drop-off and found it easily. Next came the hostal Cary and Lazarus on Luis Esteban. We put the name in the GPS and went into town down this street, across the tracks, the wrong way by 3 police who laughed at us and around the corner and there was the bakery mnext door. We knocked and Lazarus' mother answered. She got Lazarus' wife and we registered. It could not have been easier.
At the square last evening we met two Dutch couples. One is cycling the central part of Cuba, the other is using local transport again seeing only the central part. It is nice to know we have visited the whole country.
Today we will see the Che Guevara Memorial and tour Santa Clara.
Tomorrow we fly home to snow we hear. Please may the sun shine.