Monday, February 24, 2014

Cuba 2014 - Part 2

Here's Part 2 of my trip to Cuba!

Starting where we left off; Day 5 - the Jeep Safari (cue dramatic, action movie music)

This was the day we were all most excited for, we booked this excursion through our travel rep at the resort and none of us were entirely sure what to expect, or which activities we were going to be doing. We had a rough idea, but there were lots of surprises! It turned out to be everyone's favourite day. 

Wake up time was 6:30 am, which on a vacation seems blasphemous, but our bus was picking us up at 7:45 and we had to get breakfast beforehand. Our double-decker bus picked us up and took us to the Jeep depot, I guess you'd call it, where there were TONS of jeeps all lined up, for different tour groups. Along the way we had to pick up people from different resorts; it was cool to see some of the other resorts in Varadero, as well as some of the cities,towns and countryside.

There were these funny little taxi buggies everywhere!

Cuba is full of beautiful old fashioned cars.

A bus similar to ours and some horses!
And finally we got in the Jeeps!
You got to drive your own Jeep and follow a guide. I think there were 7 or 8 Jeeps total. We first drove through some small villages and saw lots of children and families. It was at this point that you saw how poor the country is, but everyone seemed very happy. All of us had brought toiletries, and clothes to give away to people, but we didn't know we were going to be driving through these villages on the excursion and unfortunately left most of it at the resort. We made do though, giving away spare hats, sunglasses, tshirts, cuc pesos, that we did have with us to some of the kids and mothers who would stand by the side of the roads. Some of the kids would come running from their houses or playing fields when they heard/saw the Jeeps coming. It makes you realize how fortunate you are and some of the things we take for granted. 

The first activity on the agenda was snorkeling! I'd never done it before and was a little nervous. I don't have many pictures from this because obviously I didn't want to get my camera wet. But it was really fun and I'd love to do it again! There was a touristy type area with a bar and market near the place we went to snorkel, so afterwards we got a beer.

After snorkeling we got back in the Jeeps and headed to a cave with a fresh water pool. It was really cool and one of the best parts of the day, one of the nest parts of the trip even! You first had to walk down a big winding staircase, into the cave and then when you jumped into the water, it was SO refreshing. I found out when I got home that my mother had gone to the same cave when her and my grandmother went to Cuba years ago, which I thought was very cool.

The pool was small, but so very, very awesome :)

After the cave we drove to a farm. Lots of gorgeous landscapes along the way. And once we got there, there was another small market stall selling fruits. We all bought some of this delicious peanut dessert bar that tasted like sweet peanut butter, and I also tried some starfruit for the first time. I liked it, it was kind of citrus-y. The farm had a restaurant on it, and you could tell it was a tourist destination, but it was much more authentic than the food at the resort. We had lunch at the restaurant and it was by far the best meal we'd had so far (and of course I forgot to take pictures of it; we were so excited for real food). It started with a delicious soup. I don't even know what was in it but it was so flavourful, we finished the entire large bowl they set on our table. We were also given a kind of squash and delicious fresh pineapple. Next a salad of lettuce and shaved carrot, some really yummy beef, rice and black beans and for dessert some sugared guava and cheese. 
After lunch, the others went into the farmers house and had Cuban coffee with him (they said it was really good). I don't drink coffee so I had a peak around the farm. There were lots of birds, goats, a donkey, some cows, a man with a bull you could ride and horses you could ride (which I did).

Some old farm equipment and a chicken.

The landscape was beautiful.
The clouds looked so ominous, it rained a little after we got back in the jeeps, but only for a few minutes.

My first time on a horse! They were tied together and you just go around the farm, still fun!
A pretty bird

The farm was fantastic!
The last activity of the excursion was taking a ride down the river on a boat. We had to drive about 45 minutes in the Jeeps to get there and saw lots of sights on the way. 

A cool mural on a wall in the city.

A bit of an inside joke..

Passing another boat just like ours.

After the boat ride we drove the Jeeps back to the depot, got back on a new bus and headed back to the resort. We got back around 7pm, it was a long day but so great! We napped, showered, ate and then saw one of the shows the resort puts on. It was kind of Lion King themed..but with no animals. Lots of fire and cool/scary lifts and jumps performed by the dancers. Needless to say we all slept really well that night. The day really was amazing.

Next up in part 3, the last 2 days in Cuba, very bittersweet. 
Stay tuned :)!

All photo cred. goes to my boyfriend and myself.

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