Tuesday 18 April: Santiago de Cuba
The entry formalities are quick with very friendly officials, who remove their shoes before stepping on Tao. They linger for the coffee we serve them and are excited when they speak of their country.
Once the formalities completed, the guardian of the marina ready us 2 CUC (equivalent to the dollar convertible Cuban currency) for the ferry. We arrive just in time for the noon ferry qi goes to City Center.
The Bay of Santiago is surrounded of factories and seems well polluted. We realize the poverty of some seeing these people who spend all day fishing on a truck air Chamber.
The driver of our done ferry race with this barge and pushes engines at bottom. The boat vibrate as long as she can at the risk of decay!
After 15 minutes of sailing we arrive in Santiago.
Since our passage in 2012, the city seems to have taken a facelift with space...
Brightly painted buildings…
and green spaces.
After trying almost all ATMs in the city... with little success, We have to stand in line at the Bank to remove CUC (currency for tourists) and get the pesos (national currency). Finally we can eat.
The pedestrian area is very nice, but as soon as we find the circulation air is unbreathable with all trucks, cars and motorcycles who reject thick black smoke on pedestrians. Just the time to see some American cars of the years 50 and 60 and we go back on the beach.
The esplanade is deserted and impossible to find someone who can inform us on the next ferry schedule. We will eventually take a taxi.
In anticipation of the lack of wind on the South coast of Cuba we must fill our fuel tanks. The day of our arrival the marina guard informs us that the pump on the dock does not work... but it may bring diesel in cans at the price of 1,20 CUC per litre. The next day we return to the marina office to arrange delivery, and a different guard informs us that the pump works and just have to go to the office next door that sells us the fuel to 1,00 CUC per litre!! The dock is a little wobbly and unable to dock there we have fabricated.
Before leaving Santiago there more to buy fruits and vegetables. We go by bus to the "market" that is referenced on the Routard Guide as well as Lonely Planet... to find a few stalls almost empty! Fortunately, Dagoberto, a taxi driver we addresses to provide its services and brings us to a great "agromercado" near the Place of the Revolution.
Indeed we find a true market with many stalls well busy. We are away from the tourist area and the trading is in Pesos, local currency. For Cubans, the tomatoes are a luxury to 0,50 euros per kilo when we know that's what wins a farm worker for a day's work. A doctor earns the equivalent of 40 euros per month!
Dagoberto guides in the market and facilitates transactions.
At least here we are sure that vegetables are grown without pesticides and have not been refrigerated.
Is it that this garlic me please?
On the way back Dagoberto made a detour to pass in his neighborhood to buy eggs. He asked a first person who asks for a second... and finally a third takes us into a house where an egg tray awaits. We see a seller of salads that comes directly from the mountain with his mule.
Although the salad is a little climb and SIP water, It is obvious that she just be picked.