Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trinidad, Cuba IV - Last Post

We never had to worry about money as much as we did in Cuba, not even during our 6 month trip abroad. Our American credit cards don't work in Cuba, so we had to bring all our spending money in cash as we entered the country. We didn't expect things to be as expensive as they were, and the last few days we counted our dollars after every meal and seriously debated whether to get mojitos or not (hard decision to make when they're so good and fresh). Our last dollar paid for the cab ride to the airport, where we slept the last night (it was an early morning flight). After a few hours of restless sleep, I was desperate for a cup of coffee and couldn't scrounge up enough coins. So typical to want what you can't have, isn't it? I was so happy when I found free hot water at a cafe and realized I had tea bags with me (always a good idea when traveling). I enjoyed that tea immensely and couldn't wait to get out of Cuba. The country felt so foreign and disconnected from the world, and I was tired of worrying about whether we'd run out of cash. The fact that we couldn't withdraw any more money and had no internet in Cuba (not just to communicate with friends, but to look up information... we are constantly googling stuff when traveling) were both new to us while traveling. It's a valuable experience for any traveler.

Overall our impression of Cuba was a pleasant one. The crumbling pastel buildings, the warm sea, and the slow lifestyle where almost every front door is wide open and people sit around on the sidewalk chatting the day away, are all things I will never forget. We felt so fortunate to see the country before the US embrago ends and things start changing. It was refreshing not to see any McDonalds or Hiltons or other large chains, and instead visit small Cuban restaurants and stay with local families. We loved the lack of modern advertisement and enjoyed the hand painted signs and propaganda. We liked being disconnected from our phones and the internet and the modern world, though maybe not at the time. We took some of our very favorite photos in Cuba and are so thankful for the kind people there that welcomed us into their lives and allowed us to take images of them home with us.

Down below we share a crazy story about our last taxi ride and a sea of crabs. Scroll down to read.

This marks our last post from Cuba. Next we will share photos from our recent trip to Iceland!

- Julia

A couple parting photos from our last apartment in Trinidad.
Almost every door and window in Cuba has metal bars covering it, though it's hard to believe they're really needed for protection.
We rented bikes and rode down to the beach one day. The water was warm, the bottom perfectly sandy, and the crowds nonexistent. Note the blue skies and see how quickly the weather changes below.
As we saw black clouds rolling in, we left the beach and hurried home on our bikes. 
Then I got a flat tire and it started raining.
A truck full of workers took pity on us, loaded our bikes, and gave us a ride into town. What a relief! As soon as we got in the truck, the heavens let loose and the rain just poured down.
Looking out the back of the truck, we watched giant puddles and rivers flow down the streets.
So thankful for these guys! We could say little more than "thank you" to them in Spanish.
After the rain, many people seized the opportunity to sweep their porches and clean the dirt and dust that had gathered in the hot weather.
We hired a driver to take us from Trinidad to the airport in Havana. We left close to sunset and didn't know what was in store. Turns out we had to drive through a sea of crabs to get out of Trinidad. We learned that for a couple weeks every spring, millions of female crabs migrate from their forest home to the coastline to lay eggs in the Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately, they have to cross the highway in order to get there, and after they hatch, the baby crabs must then cross the highway to get to the forest. The crabs have an instinctive ability to trace the changing tidal patterns of the sea, and will reproduce no matter what obstacles they need to cross. Sadly, hundreds of crabs get crushed on the road beneath traffic. If you drive slow and try to dodge them, the crabs pinch and pop the car tires. You can see an incredible video of what we experienced here. We were driving pretty fast so good photos were hard to get.