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Adios Amigos

Day Nine:

Reluctantly I packed my bag the next morning and said goodbye to Mr and Mrs Ayala and their hard working team. Mr Ayala gave me the bill, shook my hand and said with a big smile – ‘If you don’t pay I ring the Police’. “I’ll pay, I’ll pay” I said. It was a very heart-warming touch when Mrs Ayala kissed and hugged me and read out a little note she had hand-written: Jeremy – thank you for visit our house and felt many happy in our city and with our family. Our family stay many happy with you in our house and like that come back to our house in Trinidad of Cuba that always is your house when do you come by any. Kisses Family Ayala. Fair enough, better than my Spanish anyway – and extremely sweet I thought. Mr and Mrs A and all the kind senoras lined up, smiling, blowing kisses (well, not Mr Ayala) and waving goodbye. Lovely people.

The long drive back to Havana was punctuated by a number of interesting stops including a panoramic viewing point and a museum showing how they used to dry, grind and roast coffee beans.

Then onward for lunch in a small town having followed for miles, a couple of smoke-belching, ex-US Army World War 2 trucks that had been converted into passenger carrying tourist buses.

After lunch our next stop was at the Che Guevara museum in Santa Clara. It’s actually a Mausoleum, a memorial which contains his remains and those of others who were part of his attempt to spur an armed uprising in Bolivia in 1967. Santa Clara was chosen as the site for the Mausoleum as it was there in 1958 that Guevara’s troops took back the city from rebels under the dictator General Fulgencio Batista, resulting in Batista fleeing the country and a decisive victory for Fidel Castro’s forces. It was the final battle that won the Cuban Revolution. Nearby there remains a Batista military supply train that was derailed by Guevera during the battle.

The journey continued with nothing more notable other than the fact that when the driver decided we needed more fuel he just crossed the motorway’s central reservation to go to a petrol station on the other side! Nearly had heart failure.

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