The road to Santiago

Ricardo (on the left) loading up the bus
Ricardo (on the left) loading up the bus

We left Willo’s just after 9am in our own comfortable, air-conditioned bus with about 3 seats each and took the one and only road out of Baracoa. Prior to the Revolution and the building of the road in 1960’s, the only way into the town was by boat or air.

The route took us up and over and round some very green and magnificent mountains. Unfortunately, it was extremely windy and the bus driver wasn’t going slowly so our guide was sick and I wasn’t feeling too well myself. We stopped at a lookout where there were, inevitably, some vendors of fruit and a coconut and guava sweet, wrapped in a conical shape of banana leaves, which I bought and was very tasty.

On the road out of Baracoa
On the road out of Baracoa

Once out of the hills, the landscape changed completely as we followed the sea. It was very dry and rocky for a while although there was still a fair amount of greenery. We stopped for an hour or so at a cafe at which we had a light lunch and swam from a beach, which had a cliff of fossilised coral and a number of children who had obviously met tourists before and were familiar with their bounty.


On the road again and our next stop was at a lookout to view Guatanamo Bay Naval Base, which could just be seen in the very far distance, there being no way of being allowed closer to it. For the grand sum of 1CUC, we were allowed to go up to the lookout tower, use a man’s binoculars and be shown some fairly old photos of the inside of the Base (none of the torture rooms though).

We continued on to Santiago then, with no more stops and arrived at our Casas at about 4pm.

People watching from the roof terrace
People watching from the roof terrace

There was time to relax before meeting Monica again for a walking orientation tour at 6pm, so I sat up on our roof terrace and listened to the noise of workmen, music, cats and dogs, and admired the view across the city in all directions.

Monica took us up to the square which housed the Cathedral and Town hall, and then around to the Bacardi Museum. The buildings were beautiful neo Classical and reminded me of Wedgewood plates (although none of them were blue). We were also approached by someone who wanted to show us his music place and we said we would come back later after dinner. Santiago is the music capital of salsa.  There is also a heavy Haitian and Jamaican influence as so many people have arrived in Cuba from those islands.

We had dinner at Ana’s, who is the main co-ordinator of the Casas in Santiago and then decided we were all too tired to go out so I have yet to hear any music. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was all that I was to see and do in Santiago as I became sick in the night and spent the whole of the following day in my room.

View from the Casa roof terrace
View from the Casa roof terrace
Roofs in Santiago
Roofs in Santiago
Looking towards Santiago Port
Looking towards Santiago Port

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