Kawumm

Actually, the thing is just annoying. The box takes up an incredible amount of space. The battery is dead. And for certain countries it only causes problems when entering the country. In Cuba it brings trouble. We're talking about the drone.

Often undesirable

We bought them in Spain on a whim, found them bad and only used them two or three times. Then we transported it halfway around the world. It's over now. Never again have to declare the drone upon arrival.

No more Cuba

This is the last post on Cuba. Then it's over, then we'll come back to Aruba.

The entrance to Chinatown in Havana. However, there are only a few Chinese in the Chinese restaurants here.

Both Jens and I were definitely not the last time in our lives in Cuba. Depending on how upset the population is, sooner or later there will be changes. Many Cubans are hoping for Joe Biden and that he will lift the embargo. Tourism could be a solution for now. The only products that are made in Cuba and are competitive on the world market are cigars and rum. That alone will not make the economy healthy.

church

An (incomplete) list of the things we have been asked about again and again because they are either not available at all or are only available at ridiculous prices:

Bell tower

- Cell phones, with or without buttons, with an intact or cracked display
- old and often defective laptops
- Toothpaste, shower gel, liquid soap, detergent, cleaning agent
- Disposable lighters, full or empty. In Cuba you can refill any lighter.
- cooking oil, salt and pepper
- T-shirts

Chicken Monument

It's also great when you have a few little things with you for the many children on the street. It's not about pens and paper for school, they have enough of them. Chewing gum, candy and chocolate bars make friends for life.

The lack of lighters showed itself to our landlord couple in Havana in a blatant way. Both are smokers. Cooking is done on the gas stove. The pragmatic solution is, if there is no lighter in the house, that a flame from the gas stove burns continuously, even 24 hours a day, whether someone is at home or not.

One of the nicer oldtimers

Credit cards do not work at all or only rarely in the whole country. Shortly before our trip to Havana, the Swiss sailing boat Lupina came into the Marina of Santiago. On the last evening before our departure, skipper Köbi asked me if I could help him with his problem. He's run out of cash. After several phone calls with his bank in Switzerland, he found out that the Swiss credit cards don't work in Cuba, not even in the bank branches. Switzerland adheres to the embargo. So be careful! I'm helping Köbi out with $ 1,000 and I'm sure the money will be in my account before I get to Aruba. (Addendum: It would almost have been the same if I could write my own IBAN ...)

Yellow classic car

We had several thousand dollars with us in small bills - all of them were 20-dollar bills, many of which were already worn, a little torn or had traces of these pens with which to check authenticity. We felt well equipped with that. We were not entirely wrong, but not entirely right either.

The best exchange rate is for brand new $ 100 bills that are completely unused. I am talking about the exchange rate on the street, whereby street is not to be taken literally. I preferred to trade in private apartments where you couldn't see the deal. It's best to swap with people with whom you have already established a relationship. Of course, you have to negotiate the exchange rate, but once an agreement has been made, it is meticulously adhered to. Instead of the dollar bills, euros work just as well. But be careful: Many tend to simplify things and use a 1: 1 exchange rate from dollars to euros.

Jens took all the pictures in Havana.

Eating in the restaurant

Since there is no breakfast in our hostel, we always walk to the old town after getting up, where the restaurants are. There we avoid the restaurants in the large squares, where "Reinholer" pounce on every single tourist with a huge menu. Everything is on this menu, just no prices. We are looking for the small restaurants in the side streets, where mostly a handwritten menu with good prices attracts us. We can recommend the Mambo Bar, as well as the Teniente del Rei 360. The average warm meal costs 150 pesos. I would have liked to link the two places, unfortunately they have no entry in Google.

Stalls in the street

Especially with printed menus, you shouldn't be drooling from hunger and choose the dish you would like to eat most. It is worth asking the waitress what is available at all. Fish and chicken are generally available. The fish is always fresh and the chicken cannot be compared with the dry, tasteless meat we know. Chicken is very juicy and tasty in Cuba.

Pork, octopus, shrimp, and lobster are occasionally available. Fresh cooking is done in all restaurants, and no helpful powder is used - the convenience products that are so popular with us are simply not available in Cuba. The side dishes are always rice (black or white rice), fried bananas or plantains (plantains) and vegetables. We would call the vegetables a salad because they consist (depending on availability) of green lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber slices. Sometimes they have sweet potatoes too. Jens doesn't like bananas, but he likes to eat the fried ones - they no longer look like bananas, no longer taste like bananas and have a different consistency.

Dance on stilts

What we never found on the menus in Cuba are french fries. I think it is due to the lack of cooking oil and the lack of potatoes. Edible oil is very difficult to obtain. We gave away some bottles from Sissi's stock. For example, a bottle of our sunflower oil, which we bought in Martinique, made the New Year's Eve feast for one of the Marina employees possible. He tried fishing on his night shift, and we sat together on the jetty and talked about Cuba. When he told me that he had been trying to get cooking oil for New Year's Eve for days, I spontaneously offered him a bottle. After our return from Havana I was allowed to look at the pictures of the opulent meal (pork, rice, vegetables) on his phone.

In my opinion, the women in Cuba are the most beautiful women we have seen in the Caribbean. They are slim and have beautiful bodies. There are also no men who carry their fat plaster in front of them. People are not emaciated and emaciated, they are just slim. That certainly comes from a healthy diet.

Open air workshop for rickshaws

Whoever you talk to, whether in Havana or Santiago, the people in Cuba are upset. The extreme lack of everything, the soaring prices and the government not doing what people want it to do. Some speak of another revolution. We exchanged email addresses with some Cubans and will follow what is happening in the country in the future.

Cuba is a large, fertile island. Agriculture could actually produce enough products to feed the people in the country. The current shortage of fresh agricultural products is in part the result of the extreme Covid shutdown last year. From March to September nothing went anywhere in the country. People were not allowed to go to work, the harvest was not brought in in the fields and has rotted away. If there was a harvest, it could not be transported to the cities because internal traffic was prohibited. Cuba was able to leave the first wave of Covid with an excellent record, but the population now has to pay a high price.

Stairway to the Capitol

Another reason for the lack of food in the country is the fact that the government has sold a good part of the production abroad in order to wash foreign currency into the empty coffers. The common Cuban cannot buy anything from it and only sees the empty markets. This contributes to popular dissatisfaction with the government.

The Covid numbers are currently rising again in Cuba, certainly a result of Christmas and New Year's Eve. On our last day in Havana we wanted to book a taxi and drive to the countryside. Nearby are “Las Terrazas”, famous waterfalls and a swimming area among them. Our landlady tried to find a taxi driver to drive us there. Unfortunately the effort was in vain. Two drivers refused our beautiful green banknotes because the government has banned travel across provincial borders.

Barber on the street

Cuba is a safe island. We have never been afraid of being mugged and robbed in a dark corner. Street crime does not take place. Even if everyone knew that we literally had our pockets full of dollars, that was never a problem. If we had lost a cell phone, it would of course not have ended up in the lost property office. But we never had to worry that the expensive electronics would be snatched from our hands. The half bottle of shampoo that we left in the marina shower that evening was of course gone the next morning. But we were never afraid that they would get into the boat and remove all the beautiful goods from our storage loads.

First violin

Enough cigars, our rickshaw driver drives us through the old town for an hour for $ 10. He tries again and again to explain the sights to us, but he gets really out of breath. When we tell him that he doesn't have to tell us so much, he is very grateful. He drives us to some corners that we probably won't walk to and wants to take a selfie with us at the end. With pleasure! After the hour the Cohiba burned down too, the timing is perfect.

Altstadtgasse

We slowly walk back to our quarters. After walking around for hours, our legs are tired and we want to sit down and read a little. In the morning you don't see much of our four-tenant couple, but they are both very active in the evening and usually come home late at night. Violin sounds fill the house. Maury has connected his electric violin to a loudspeaker box and plays karaoke versions of various songs, to which he plays first violin.

The same alley a little further inside

He wants to know what music we like to listen to. He can't do much with heavy metal like most people in Cuba don't. But I can think of a title that he definitely does not know and in which a violin plays the leading role: "At the window" of City. He really doesn't know the piece, listens to YouTube for a moment and plays the violin part after half a minute. That is what defines the professional musician. Afterwards he thanks me for telling him the song. I think he will add it to his repertoire.

Fortress with lighthouse - military is still in there.

Conversations with people who speak only Spanish are complicated, because apart from a few greetings and food orders, the language is still foreign to me. At most, words in Papiamento come to mind, but they don't necessarily make sense in Spanish. So we have a chat with the help of Google's translator. The internet connection in the building can - um - be improved. Like in Germany in the flat country. Sometimes the phone has a bar, sometimes it doesn't. But that is not Cubacel's fault, it is due to the tall building into which the radio signal finds its way difficult.

Magnificent hotel with a spherical taxi

Google can also translate the spoken word, but we do not use it. The data volume is strictly limited, comparatively expensive and must be used for YouTube. We write on the landlord's smartphone. The Spanish keyboard corrects me again and again with the English entries. I save translations between German and Spanish right away, you can't write properly German on a Spanish keyboard.

Maury complains that prices have risen so exorbitantly. A beer would now cost 100 pesos ($ 4), that would be a scam and people would be angry on the street. The price of a pound of pork with a rind and bone has risen from 50 pesos to 150 pesos. All of his friends are angry with the government. The price of his beloved Cuban coffee would also have quadrupled. If it continued like this, people would soon have to eat one another.

Queue for bread

It's all because the peso has now somehow been pegged to the US dollar. It seems a little like 30 years ago in Germany. When the D-Mark came to the GDR and prices also rose. When people suddenly could buy goods but had no more money to pay for them. While wages are rising in Cuba, prices are rising faster. And freelance artists like our landlord are currently without any income. There is no unemployment insurance in Cuba like in Germany.

Prices are also rising in the restaurant next door, first and foremost beer prices. The host now also takes 100 pesos for a beer (instead of 75 pesos before). It's actually a cheap price, you don't pay more there than on the street. He cannot make a profit with it. Absurdly enough, spaghetti costs 75 pesos, so a meal is cheaper than a drink. In general, the food in the restaurants in Havana is good and cheap.

Festival of cigars and rum

Traveling in Covid times is complicated. I have already written about traveling by rail in Cuba. But sightseeing in Havana is also difficult. All museums are closed, there are no open dance halls with salsa.

Water sellers on the street corner

The friend of our landlady is a professional violin player and is usually always booked for dance events. Since these are not currently taking place, he currently has no income. That is hard. For us it means that we can only walk around in Havana and let the impressions work on us. However, this is much better than nothing.

Shrine to a baseball player

We feel free in Havana. Although we had to leave our address in Havana to the authorities in Santiago, we do not have the impression that we are under surveillance. It felt different in Santiago. There we could sometimes see the same people standing in different corners of the city and paddling on their phones. That didn't really feel good there.

Church near the old town

The pictures that I blog about this text have only rudimentarily to do with the text itself. I cannot write an illuminating report for most of the pictures, because they are just street scenes from Havana. Instead I would like to formulate my impressions and write about what we have learned from the locals.

Same church inside

Let's start with the Cigar and Rum Festival. The first of January is a public holiday like ours, the second of January is also a public holiday, this is the anniversary of an event of the revolution. That's why Cubans start celebrating on New Year's Eve. The traditional dish is a pig that is grilled and turned over a fire for hours. You can't call it suckling pig, the Cubans already roll whole pigs or at least pork halves over the fire. They also drink rum.

Family carriage

As a result, most partying people are still a little unfit on the morning of January 1st. So we could experience it with our landlady, who was difficult to get out of bed, but otherwise the streets in Havana were pretty empty until the early afternoon. Then life slowly develops, and the cigar sellers and rum marketers are on the road again. In fact, it's pretty legal at the Cigar and Rum Festival. The employees of the cigar factories, rum factories or coffee plantations are allowed to bring their products to the man or woman on their own account.

Truck with bullet holes in front of the Revolution Museum

It's already the man. I haven't seen a single woman on the street with a cigar in her mouth. Instead, in the first few days of January you can see a lot of men walking around with big cigars. That makes the good price. That is basically a matter of negotiation.

Clothes dryer

We enter the premises of a cooperative. From the outside it looks like what the German real estate agent would advertise as a home improvement paradise. A block in dire need of renovation. Nobody would want to live there with us, but the building is very popular with the residents. We are shown through some backyards and we are told that all residents of the cooperative are able to renovate the building together and then live rent-free. This is how it becomes a shoe.

Prefabricated buildings

The offer is presented in a living room: cigars from the brands Cohiba, Montechristo, Romeo y Julieta and others are on the table. As I said, the price is a matter of negotiation. The Legendario is touted as the rum, which, unlike the Havana Club, shouldn't cause a headache. That all sounds very good, but we are puzzled over coffee. The “best coffee in Cuba” comes from Spar. Exactly the brand Spar that we also have.

After a short but successful round of negotiations, I buy 10 Cohibas and a bottle of rum for $ 35. The seller is a little disappointed that he can no longer sell to us, but who should smoke all those cigars? In retrospect, I'm annoyed that I haven't bought coffee. The professional violinist is as addicted to coffee as I am, but he doesn't have coffee in the house every day.

Typical bustle on the street

We take a bicycle rickshaw and let us drive a little through the streets. The first Cohiba, which is really tasty, has to believe in it. Maybe I should have bought more of it. We learned at the cooperative how to distinguish a good cigar from a bad cigar.

First of all, hold it with the tip down and turn it a little while applying light pressure. If tobacco crumbs fall out, you immediately know that it is not made from whole tobacco leaves. This is often the case with the cheap cigars that are forced on tourists on the roadside. That fits with the statement that one should definitely not buy cigars on the street.

If the cigar has passed the crumb test, the pressure test comes. With your thumb and forefinger you exert hard pressure on the cigar and squeeze it together. Then you let go of it, it has to return to its old form. If this is not the case, you are not holding a good cigar.

One of many street dogs

In addition, a cigar has to be light. It is not very heavy. Such a fat Cohiba weighs a lot less than it looks. The question of which cigar smells best can of course only be answered by connoisseurs. Besides Cohibas, I also tried Montechristo and Romeo y Julieta. The latter have a darker tobacco and are a little stronger. The Cohibas and the Churchills of Montechristo don't give each other much in my opinion.

As soon as I arrived in Santiago, I bought a couple of cigars from the brewery. They weren't bad, no comparison to the goods we sell in aluminum tubes at petrol stations. But the real cigars from Havana beat the things from the brewery by far.

Welcome to Atlantis

The last day of our trip. I've signed up in Atlantis for a time slot between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. so the doctor can come to the pier and do a PCR test.

The evening before, shortly before nightfall, we take down the mainsail so that we are not too fast. Plus, it's a bastard job that is better done in daylight. We are good in time. We are doing a shortened night shift because we want to enter the port of Barcadera shortly after 5 a.m. When I hand over to Jens at midnight, everything is still according to plan.

At five o'clock in the morning I get up, the on-board computer shows a bad ... position. We've been sailing practically on the spot for five hours, the wind has turned pretty much to our disadvantage. So we decide to start the engine and run for the last six miles. The engineering work of art from Sindelfingen comes to life with the usual rumble. We take the genoa down, the gearbox does its usual beating when I put the gear into gear. The engine roars when I accelerate. Otherwise nothing happens.

The genoa is back in operation in no time, we would almost have been driven backwards against the only buoy far and wide. Whatever we do - the propeller refuses to cooperate. Getting to Atlantis is more difficult than expected. We have to sail it out to the last meter.

The Barcadera clearing port is informed at 7 a.m. At 8 o'clock it is clear that a dinghy is coming from the marina as a towing aid. At 9 a.m. we made the meeting point, but we didn't reach it until shortly before 11 a.m. We sail back and forth, the wind eases and the current gains the upper hand. Shortly before 11 am, Hans from the Renaissance Marina can finally take us in tow. He tries hard and the 40 hp engine can only barely drag us to the customs pier. Lines over, tie up, wipe sweat from my forehead. 68 miles, but one hour is still missing to the Etmal.

Clearing in was done quickly, the people are friendly and of course the customs officers on board didn't steal anything. At this point it should be over, we are tired and have to sleep. Tomorrow I'll show you some pictures from Havana.

Pharmacy Museum

The museums in Havana are closed. The Revolution Museum is no exception. The Museum of Modern Cuban Art is also closed and so is the Pharmacy Museum.

Pharmacy Museum

This is a special assignment for me. My former work colleague and friend Uli is in the process of setting up a pharmacy museum in Neubiberg near Munich. He asked me to visit the pharmacy museum in Havana, take pictures if possible and bring all kinds of brochures or illustrated books I can get.

The search for the museum is difficult at first. None of the taxi drivers we ask know where the museum is. Maybe I asked the question the wrong way, I asked about the historical pharmacy. We're just poor, without our phones and without the Internet. Really offline. Only Jens’s camera makes these recordings possible at all. After we initially had to give up in front of one of the three historic pharmacies because it is closed for renovation, we finally find the Reunion / Sarre pharmacy.

Pharmacy museum from the outside

Photographed from the sunny side, the representative building looks pretty closed. It's a Sunday, we want to give up and come back the next day. But as soon as we walk around the corner, we can see that the front door is open. The museum is not just a museum, but a real pharmacy where medicines are sold.

Salesroom

There isn't much going on in the pharmacy on Sunday. Or maybe they don't have any medication. We ask if we can take photos. We may. Then we get a friendly explanation that the museum is closed. Jens takes a few pictures through the front door when suddenly the pharmacist comes and indicates that we should follow her. We are guided through some of the rooms in the museum and Jens takes photo after photo.

Showcase

We cannot go upstairs and the rooms in front of which a security fuzzy sits are also taboo for us. But we get some nice shots together.

Part of the showcase up close

All sorts of tools that a pharmacist needed to make the medicine can be found here in the showcases. When the museums have reopened, I can only recommend a visit to this museum if you are already in Havana.

Historic pharmacist scales

Unfortunately I can only bring the pictures for Uli, he has already received a Dropbox link. Uli, feel free to use the images on your website. The highlight of our very private unofficial tour is the opening of the door of the safe, in which the expensive ingredients and drugs were.

safe

In the end we donate $ 10 for the restoration of the museum or for a dinner for the pharmacists. I dont know. Anyway, it was a great private tour and the exhibits are nice to look at. In any case, you won't find a museum like this on every corner.

Apothecary jars

Badly gone wrong ...

Perhaps you were wondering why there was radio silence on the blog after Christmas. It wasn't because the internet was broken in Cuba or the marina. I lied a little about that. The truth is as follows ...

December 27th starts beautifully. I get on the ferry to Santiago, my camera in my backpack and my cell phone with the Cuban flag in my pocket. Jens stays on board, he couldn't stand the meal in the restaurant the day before and doesn't want to stray too far from our wonderful on-board toilet. I take another nice picture at the ferry terminal.

At the ferry terminal in Punta Gorda. The last picture before the camera was taken from me.

In Santiago, I want to stroll from the pier into the city when I hear a few calls from behind and my name as well. I turn around and three young Cubans aged 25 or under come running towards me. They open their wallets and show me their IDs. Police. What have I done wrong? I can't think of anything at first. My passport is being checked. A uniformed policeman on a motorcycle also appears. He takes my passport, the other policemen accompany me to a scrap-looking minibus whose starter doesn't work and in which they drive me back to the marina.

Jens is already sitting there with the officials, he is guarded by uniformed men. Our problem will soon be resolved. We have a drone on board, which we also declared on arrival. We are asked where the drone is and can definitely answer this question conclusively. A short time later the drone is on the table in front of us. Several uniformed men shout at us or ask us questions at normal volume. Jorge interprets. Among other things, we are asked whether we have sold or wanted to sell electronics. No, we didn't want to. We dont have. I just forgot the USB stick that I gave to one of the Cubans.

After a few hours of questioning (Jens and I are questioned alternately, the other has to stay outside) our boat is searched. They collect our two laptops, our four phones, the satellite phone, the video cameras, my photo camera and we're offline. During this search, they try to assume that I want to hide a cell phone from them. At first it lies on the coffee table next to Jens 'notebook, namely Jens' phone. One of the police officers photographs the scene. Five minutes later I am yelled at and asked where the phone has gone. After a short search, another policeman finds it under the mattress in the forward bunk. From that moment on it is clear to me that it is not kosher here. Fortunately I was never in the forward bunk during the whole time, this accusation was later simply swept under the table.

Endless logs are filled out. Endless lists of paragraphs are read to us. Threatened prison terms. Finally, a list of the confiscated items is printed out and I can sign it. Our ship's papers are also withheld, we are not allowed to leave the country.

What the police officers did not notice was the fully functional navigation computer, which also runs Linux. I have posted blog posts about this in the past few days, there weren't very many and we couldn't take the PC with us to Havana either. They also didn't notice Jens's camera with our groceries, so we were able to take photos in Havana. What I didn't notice were the sticky fingers of one of the police officers searching. He put a hard drive in Jens's pocket that never appeared on the list of confiscated items. Unfortunately, we noticed that too late.

Our friend, who lives here near the marina, was put in jail for a week. It was assumed that he wanted to buy electronics or even the drone from us. In prison he then found out what the real problem was. Somebody let another (!) Drone fly over a prison. That made us the main suspects. However, our drone is not airworthy at all, the battery is broken.

After several days of waiting and the uncertainty about the work of the Cuban police, we drive to Havana. We pay a visit to the German embassy. We want the professionals to assess our situation. We want to know whether it makes sense to take care of a lawyer and what a lawyer in Cuba can do for us in our situation.

The embassy is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Despite our German passports, we have to stay outside on the street. A woman comes to the fence, asks what we want and disappears back into the building with our passports. After a quarter of an hour she reappears and has three questions from the consul on her slip of paper. We answer the questions. After a few minutes she reappears and says that the consul is amazed that we are not in prison. She tells us that there is nothing the embassy can do for us. But if we were to go to jail, they would be informed and then make sure we got food. This visit is a little disappointing. We take it positively, after all, we're not in jail, we're going into town and smoking a fat Cohiba.

Jens with Mojito, Cohiba and cat

One day after our return we get our devices back. Just not Jens’s hard drive. I notice (too late) that an SD card is missing from the video camera. Not so bad, it only has 16 GB: Much worse is that the USB dongle for the external keyboard and mouse was stolen from my laptop. But at sea you have everything twice, I have another external keyboard and a mouse.

Jörg with Cohiba, Mojito and cat

Conclusion: We haven't had our devices for almost two weeks. A hard drive, an SD card and a USB dongle were stolen.

Thanks to the hard disk encryption, they couldn't log into my laptop and never asked for the password. My phone cannot be charged or read via cable, I got it back completely discharged. They couldn't do much with that, the battery was almost empty when they got it from me. Jens has reset his phone to the factory settings, unfortunately I can only do that in Germany because the nautical charts on the phone are absolutely necessary for our trip.

By the time this blog appears, we will long be in international waters. We'll get back to you soon.

Note: If you go to Cuba with your boat, you have to know what you are getting yourself into. Small deals such as changing money or buying cigars in the hand are prohibited but tolerated. You should be very, very careful with electronics. Bring toothpaste and sunflower oil with you, as they are missing here and the locals are very happy about it.

Havana

In the morning we fall tired from the train and have no idea where to go to our quarters. We stop a taxi at the train station and let us drive us. The taxi driver asks $ 15. We have no idea whether the price is okay or not, nor do we know the geography of Havana. So we agree and after about 10 minutes we are in front of our “private house”, our apartment for the next few days. It is the morning of January 1st 2021. I ring the doorbell like crazy, nothing happens. Only after a few minutes does the door open and a young woman with a completely tired look lets us in. First she wants to rent two of her three rooms to us, but one is enough for us, it costs half.

The living room". It has no roof and when it rains it rains in. Otherwise very nice.

Of course we have to pay for the room in advance, people don't have any money. Our landlady disappears with the ID cards to write down our details. When I get my ID back, the visa is missing. After several minutes of searching, she found it somewhere on the ground; it just fell out of the pass. It would be fatal for me if I lost this visa.

After we have rested, we take a walk through the neighborhood. In search of a meal, we keep walking towards Old Havana. Most restaurants are closed on January 1st. A taxi driver wants to drive us around, but also knows a restaurant that is open. So we are already full.

Old Havana. There is not much going on.

Not much is going on in the streets. Nevertheless there are still enough taxi drivers who offer us their taxi. It is the festival of cigars, the workers in the factory can sell cigars on the street for a small price. Rum and coffee are also on offer. We don't buy anything, we are very tired anyway. Here we see a beautiful street scene with a view of the Capitol.

Later in the day the streets are more crowded

We are repeatedly asked whether we need a taxi, want to change money, buy cigars or a woman. We are asked where we come from. When the Cubans hear that we are from Germany, the words “all clear” and “all paletti” keep coming up. Apparently every Cuban has a relative, acquaintance or friend in Germany. At least that's what they say. There was only one person who wasn't really familiar with geography, he located Manchester in Germany. From a distance it's only just off the mark.

Close up of the Capitol

After a two-hour walk, a meal and a few meters more on the asphalt, we've had enough. We run back to our quarters. We spend the rest of the day more or less in the living room.

Unfortunately our landlady has an empty refrigerator. So for dinner we go outside again and visit the restaurant next door. It's on the corner, it's around the corner, so you could call it a corner pub.

CanChanChaRa - on the corner. Our quarters are two doors to the left.

A meal here costs between three and five dollars. A beer costs three dollars. So we can fill our stomachs with no worries. The food is really good again. It tastes different than in Santiago. We learn later that each region in Cuba has its own style of cuisine. We want to come back, it's cheap, good and practical.

View from the balcony of the regular restaurant

If you sit on the balcony of the restaurant, you have the view as in the picture above. It looks like it's late at night, but the sun sets in Havana at 6 p.m. at this time of year. Two hours later there is nothing going on on the streets, at least not on January 1st outside the old town.

Drone flights prohibited. Taken at the Capitol

In the next blog I will describe what the drone flights are all about. Now I still have to work a bit, we have brought so many pictures from Havana. In the coming days we will continue sailing towards Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao. That is why I have to prepare the contributions today.

Adventure railroad

End of the radio silence. We are back in Santiago. We are still looking for a solution to publish a nice blog with pictures again, hopefully that won't take long. Unfortunately, we learned that Jamaica is still closed. So we're looking for other destinations and maybe come up with a surprise. But now to our trip to Havana.

First of all: I will never again make a complaint about Deutsche Bahn. Never again in my life, I swore to myself here in Cuba.

The timetable is a dream. There is a train between Santiago and Havana that runs every four days. He leaves Santiago on the first day and arrives in Havana the following day. There it goes back a day later, on the fourth day the train is back in Santiago. The first adventure is buying the ticket. The ticket is available with the associated seat reservation in special agencies or at the train station. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the relevant counter. Probably because I'm not a local. But Norbert was able to help me get the ticket for the connection to Havana. We just couldn't get the ticket back in Santiago, because there are new fares in the new year and nobody knew about them at the end of December.

So Jens and I go on December 31st. around noon to the train station in Santiago. Before we go to the taxi, Norbert asks us if we have also packed warm things. He's reserved first class for us, the wagons there are air-conditioned and really, really cold. We ask him to get us a second class ticket for the return trip and to get some warm clothes out of the boat.

The train is supposed to leave at 4:30 p.m., so we're at the station at 1 p.m. Why? Because that is imperative. The reservation must now be converted into a registration. You have to go to the appropriate counter. There you show your passport and the reservation is checked on the computer. The ticket is then stamped on the back.

Now we can leave the station again and buy a few more sandwiches for the trip. The small snack bar opposite the train station has everything a traveler needs for the journey. However, there is no beer, like almost everywhere in Cuba. The turn of the year casts its shadow ahead, the Cubans have bought all the beer supplies on the island for their own purposes, so no cans are left on the shelf. Okay, that's a minor problem, there is enough rum after all.

At 3:30 p.m. we were sitting in the shade in front of the train station when suddenly the doors of the waiting hall were closed. Besides us, there are several dozen other travelers at the door, and there is almost a riot. We can see from outside how the temperature is measured for all those waiting. When the temperature measurement official has checked all the travelers, the doors are opened again. Now we can also go to the waiting hall, when we enter the tickets are checked for the first time, our hands are disinfected and our temperature is measured.

The gates to the platform open around 4 p.m. The tickets are checked a second time, we are sent to the first car. There the conductress is at the door, checking our tickets a third time. A ticket check also meant that we had to show our passport every time. The conductress notes our names on a clipboard, the seats printed on our tickets are assigned to us and we can finally sit down. The air conditioning hums violently, it is already quite fresh in the car, but the sun is still coming in from outside. Televisions are mounted on the ceiling and play a kind of western. In Spanish. Nobody can avoid it, the sound comes through the car speakers.

The wagons are only a few years old and come from China. There is nothing wrong with that, China has a huge rail network and they can build trains. The seats are very comfortable and the legroom is exorbitant. There isn't that much space on German trains. The wagons are also very clean and they have two (!) Working toilets per wagon. Deutsche Bahn has long since abandoned this concept. Only the TV and the air conditioning are annoying.

On departure, the conductress stands in the middle of the car and makes the announcement, as you know her from our trains. We're going to Havana, we stop here and there on the way, and and and ... Meanwhile the western continues to play on the TV, only the sound has been turned down a little.

Then there is the fourth ticket inspection. The conductress checks that everyone is seated in the right place. Whoever sat in the wrong place is now sent to the right place. Slowly the train rumbled out of Santiago over somewhat worn tracks. The landscape changes quickly, it's wonderfully green outside. We drive through banana plantations and jungles. Great. In addition to the conductor, there are two policemen in each car. And the head conductor. Four people are responsible for around 50 travelers.

After just under an hour, the train stops at the first station. I forgot the name again. But it looks a lot like at German railway stations in the country. A platform for passenger traffic and next to it a dozen freight tracks with rusty and rotten freight cars. However, they are all in use. That is the difference. In Cuba, many goods are still transported by rail.

After the first stop, the conductress comes running through the car with a trolley, as is common in airplanes. She sells a sandwich and a small bottle of soda for 5 pesos. Five pesos is about 20 cents. However, the bun is not worth more. It's dry and topped with gristly ham and tasteless cheese. The soda is sweet as a card. The offer is widely used, you can buy as much as you want. Our sandwiches from the shop across the street are better. We also baked bread for the trip, which beats local bread by a long way.

At the fifth and final ticket inspection, we no longer need to show the passport, the ticket is torn off and the conductor collects the torn off sections. Since the paper is not perforated, she meticulously folds the tickets and then tears them off with a practiced movement.

Around 10 p.m. we had to endure several music videos, propaganda videos for tourism in Cuba, a pirated copy of a Steve Martin film (English with Spanish subtitles) and a Spanish romance film. The film terror comes from a DVD player that begins to jump on switches or heavy rail joints. There is a DVD player in each car, which is apparently started one after the other by the DVD officer and then plays the same program with a slight time lag of around 30 seconds. From where I know this? I could hear it when the doors between the cars were open. At 10 p.m. they turn off the film program and the lights in the car are also turned off. We can finally try to sleep.

The lights on the train come on again punctually at midnight. The train boss himself runs from seat to seat and wishes every passenger a happy new year. Then the lights go out again and we try to sleep while our feet slowly freeze into chunks of ice in the no-sock sandals.

After little sleep, we arrive in Havana the next day at around 10 a.m. with a delay of only two hours. We take a taxi to our quarters and have to warm up first.


We received second class tickets for the return trip. The number of controls is exactly the same. Even the spacing of the seats is the same in second class as in first class. The new second class fare is identical to the old first class fare. A trip costs 95 pesos per person, around four dollars.

The advantage in the second class is the absence of video screens, the absence of air conditioning and the ability to open the windows while driving. This is real train travel. I can listen to the clacking of the wheels over the rail joints, the people talking and I can enjoy the smell of Cuba. It always smells kind of burnt. Somewhere people burn their garbage, the locomotive burns sulphurous diesel, somewhere there is always a factory that is sooty and spreads its black smoke over high chimneys in the country. Sometimes it smells of the jungle, of a lot of green.

In addition to the ticket control, there is also the Covid control on the way. Each passenger must write down their name, ID number and the destination of the trip. Why? We have fixed seats, the ID numbers are also stored in the system. On the other hand, it doesn't matter, we're still on this train for hours and have nothing better to do.

The rolls now have new prices. What was available for five pesos on the outward journey now costs 50 pesos. What luck that we looked after each other again before the trip. We also got our stomachs really full again in a restaurant. The travelers protested loudly about the new prices on the train. Not only there, everywhere in Cuba there is ranting about the new food prices. Prices have risen massively, but salaries have not. Our landlord said that people would eat each other if it continued like this. I am curious to see how the situation in Cuba will develop over the next few months. Meat prices have risen over 150 percent and bread prices by 500 percent.

After our arrival in Santiago we first have to wait on the train. When we are finally allowed to get out and walk along the platform, we first pass a passenger disinfector. He stands there with a kind of syringe, like the one we use here for weed killers in the garden, and disinfects all passengers and their luggage. Then we pass a station where fever is measured. Now we are finally released from the train station and can take a taxi to the marina.

Norbert is pretty happy that our trip went so well. He tried to contact us in our quarters several times. Unfortunately, our landlady was always out and about at night and partied, but she didn't hear her phone during the day. We are also pretty tired after the night drive and go to bed early. I still had to write this blog. So much time has to be. I will never again complain about Deutsche Bahn, about the possibility of buying a ticket at the train station and then getting on a train, which usually leaves once an hour.