Varadero Beyond the Resort

We got up in time to watch the sunrise. After breakfast, we sat in the lobby researching cheap ways to Havana. Apparently there was a bus from Varadero to Havana for 20 CUC, but it took 3 hours each way. We weren’t too keen on spending the bulk of our day on the milk run.

Horse, bicycle, and old car driving by in Cuba

Varadero Beach Tour Bus

Nonetheless, we took the first bus into the town of Varadero. It was the “Varadero Beach Tour Bus” that did the circuit between resorts into town for 5 CUC for the day. The resort had instilled fear in us for leaving the resort, so we only brought one iPhone and my old Canon camera – money in a money belt. However, that all turned out to be overkill once we got there.

The bus stop was easy to find. At the end of the driveway cornered to the highway was the brightly coloured blue and red bus stop. The bus came soon after 9:30. We paid the lady sitting behind the bus driver and hopped on.

We went to the top deck to find a seat, but it was so crowded that we had to stand in the aisles! I had one hand on the railing with my other hand holding onto my hat for dear life! It felt very precarious in the wind, going around big curves!

We rode the bus to the end of its circuit. There was a twenty minute break where we walked along the canal and bought postcards at a little shop. We then rode the bus back the way we came, getting off near the edge of town to walk back in. Most people had gotten off at the City Centre so we had a front row seat on the top deck all to ourselves!

Photo of rum down homes in Cuba

The Town of Varadero

The town looked like it had all been built in the 1950’s and painting over in the 70’s. The horse drawn carriages for tourists and old 1950’s cars added to the nostalgia. Matt said it was like going back in time.

Varadero was very touristy but also very poor. We visited a grocery store and were surprised at the difference between the local currency and CUC – one tip can get a staff person a long way in Cuba! The price on rum and honey wants much better than at the resort either.

We walked around for a bit, but Matt was feeling tired, so he hopped back on the bus and headed back into the resort. I continued walking around the town with my camera snapping pictures.

I stayed to main streets mostly, only veering down side streets momentarily. The residential streets were most fascinating to me, but it didn’t feel right blatantly taking pictures of people’s homes with my big camera. That’s just rude!

I walked down to the public beach. The blue of the ocean water through the tree leaves was in sharp contrast to the sandy beige of the town. I made my way through the line of trees between the road and the beach. The leafy floor was alive with tiny lizards hopping between the dry fallen tree leaves.

I took lots of pictures of old cars and horse drawn carriages. I stumbled across an old playground and a space-age plaza that was like 1950’s saucers made of concretes with ferns and Wonder Bread paint. I was tempted to get an ice cream cone, but resisted – I had all the ice cream I wanted back at the resort.

Old blue car in Cuba

Back at the Resort

Once I’d walked around most of town and drank all the water in my bottle, I hopped back on the bus and returned to the resort. I had only been in the room a couple of minutes when Matt came in exclaiming he’d booked us a trip to Havana! I was amazed – I had given up hope on that. He had spoken to the lifeguard on the beach and got him down to 120 CUC for a private tour to Havana – the same rate we’d get if we’d done the bus tour with the resort. Our tour was booked for Sunday – our last full day in Cuba.

Matt and I walked down to the beach together. He settled into his Rubik’s cube and I went to get a beach burger for lunch – it was almost 2:00pm after all! I got a pork skewer with my burger and sat by the beach enjoying my meal. I swear the best food on the resort comes from the jolly beach burger chef – he’s such a gent!

I went to wash my hands off in the ocean. As soon as my toes felt the water, I felt the waves beckoning to me! They are irresistible… but I wasn’t wearing a swimsuit and my sunscreen needed reapplying. So, I sat on the beach instead.

It was very windy, giving me goosebumps all over! Once I finished the morning’s blog post and drained my beer, I headed back to the room where I had a nap. When I awoke, Matt was asleep next to me. We headed down to dinner together and walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.

photo of wild dogs running along the beach at sunet
There was a pack of wild dogs running along the beach with their tails high. We hadn’t seen so many at once before! They were chasing another dog, who jumped into the waves to escape from them. The dogs dispersed with a victorious look on their faces only to return when the dog came out of the water. The chase continued out of sight. It reminded me of the book Fifteen Dogs.

We returned to the room where Matt flipped through the TV channels. He found the the Man Who Knew Infinity on an English channel about the mathematician from India which I had never seen. Matt went for walk around the perimeter of the resort by himself, so I stayed watching the TV.

When he returned and the movie was over, we went to sit on the balcony. We lit two cigars and sipped Cuban rum, chatting as the breeze rustled in the trees and the crickets chirped. No music played – just the sounds of nature tonight…