Losing It in the Streets of Santa Clara

 

Lucas and I took a the morning bus North from Cienfuegos to Santa Clara. It was only for $6 CUC for the hour and a half bus ride. We had planned to spend the day sightseeing and would then take an overnight bus to Santiago de Cuba. Santiago de Cuba is located 16 hours (by bus) East from La Habana. I was still feeling very sick and tired so, I spent most of the day sleeping instead of sightseeing like we had planned.

We met a woman at the bus terminal who, let us stay at her home for the day for $10 CUC. Dinora was an older woman in her 70s who, lived with her husband as well as her daughter and her daughter’s family.

I told her about my food poisoning and that I was scared to eat anywhere. She offered to make us chicken soup for lunch. Dinora said lunch should be ready around 3pm. By 4:30pm we still hadn’t eaten and were out of water. I decided to get out of bed to buy some bottled water.

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None of the stores I could find had water. I don’t think Santa Clara sees many tourists because everyone was staring at me. I was sick, hungry, thirsty and standing out like a sore thumb. At this point, I was ready to break down into tears in the street. My love affair with Cuba was over. We were breaking up.

Finally around 5pm we ate. The food was amazing! Dinora even fried us up plantains two different ways. I definitely over ate having not had much food in the last 48 hours.

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Lucas accompanied me after lunch to find water. It was seriously getting ridiculous, no stores had water. We finally found a bar that was selling water and blasting reggatone. Some of the patrons came up to us wanting to practice their English. We decided to join them and sat down with them at a table.

Before his trip Lucas hadn’t researched much about Cuba. He hadn’t even packed a swimsuit or a pair of shorts. I explained to our new friends Lucas’s lack of proper clothing. Without hesitation one of the guys hoped on his moped and came back a few minutes later with a pair of shorts.

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Cubans are willing to give whatever they have to someone who is in need without thinking twice. I kept thinking okay what’s the catch, when’s this guy going to ask for money or a favor. But he didn’t, he just saw that Lucas needed a pair of shorts and he had a pair to offer.

We decided to do a little sightseeing with the few hours we had left. We walked into the city center to check it out. By this time, my stomach was starting to hurt again and I knew we’d have to look for a bathroom. Finding a public bathroom in Cuba is like trying to find water. We finally convinced this closed travel agency to let me use their bathroom.

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I was so sick again but, it was coming out the other end. When I went to flush the toilet I realized it didn’t flush. Not only had I begged a closed travel agency to let me use their bathroom but, I then proceeded to get extremely ill only for them to find later and have to deal with. At least I had leaned by this time to always have toilet paper with me.

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