Baracoa to Guantanamo to Bacanao
20.12.2013 - 20.12.2013 27 °C
Friday December 20
So Friday dawned with the prospect of climbing over a 1,900 metre mountain range on a dodgy tyre and a mini-spare that should only be used for 50 km or so. The staff again were great and managed to contact the local rental guy again who promised to come soon with his mechanic – they did, checked the tyre and thought it might be OK, said they would call Guantanamo office (so we could at least swap the tyre there) and then made sure the pressure in the spare was correct. And off we went with a quick stop on the edge of town for some petrol ($1.40/litre), and who should we bump into but the tyre-repairer from Thursday; and he had the cheek to try it on by holding his ear next to another tyre and saying it had a puncture!
The drive really was spectacular. We stopped every ½ hour to check the tyre and kept to 40 kph but actually couldn’t have done much more than this because of all the tight bends. 1 ½ hours later we hit the coast and continued slowly along for another 1 ½ hours to the rental office at the Guantanamo Hotel. No-one had called them about the tyre but the manager said his mechanic was just 2 km away and he’d sort it out if we would like to wait in the hotel’s café. An hour later, he had not reappeared and the hotel had no way of contacting him as the rental agency is not actually part of the hotel. Eventually, I discovered that the hotel manager knew where the mechanic was and asked if he could call a taxi to take me there. On arrival at the large Transtur depot, I could see the car hoisted and 2 new tyres on the rear wheels just lying on the ground with several mechanics just standing around having a chat. After a short exchange of opinions, the manager got a mechanic to put the wheels back on and we were heading back to the hotel and Jeni. They may have been about to do this before I arrived but who knows
We had a fast run back towards Santiago and decided to head done the Bacanao coast, just to the east of the city. A couple of days ago, the customer service woman in the Hotel Melia had suggested the Hotel Los Corales as a good place to relax on the beach. We could spend 2 days there before flying out on Monday. As we drove along the pretty coast road, we looked for other hotels – Siboney Beach is a grubby little place and pretty much everything else along the coast was derelict, closed or empty. On the basis that we saw a few people in the gigantic Hotel Costa Morena, we checked in – the $55/night for room and all food and drink should have sounded the warning bells but there was really no other choice. It was truly awful and won the prize for the worst food in Cuba. And, there were a couple of small package groups from Canada staying there for a week or so. How desperate must you be to get out of Canada in winter to come here on holiday?
By the way, every "all-inclusive" resort in Cuba makes you wear an wristband for the duration of your sentence