At the airport all the customs people were wearing surgical masks. We go to the wrong baggage claim – then they can’t find my bag! Report the loss then to the Hotel Plaza. Cost 25 CU for the ride. Pass all sorts of old cars – many broken down by the roadside and being repaired.
At the hotel get a call that the bag was found – it had actually been overlooked. Ella decided to go back to the airport with me although she hadn’t slept in two days and was hungry and upset. Made a deal for a round trip for 30 CU. Get the bag with little trouble and back to the hotel. We were put in room 201 – overlooking the Bacardi building (designed by Maxfield Parish) and had food (and mojitos) sent to the room – and some cigars. We sat on the balcony overlooking the building and ate and smoked. Food wasn’t great but drinks and cigars were nice!
Ella goes to sleep and I head down to the lobby. Have a dark rum and coke and buy 4 cigars from the hotel clerk. Take the glass of rum with me (with promise I’ll return it) and off into the square. I get a bicycle taxi to drive me around the city and capital building. The building itself is a replica of the capital building in Washington. Give him a cigar and we both ride around smoking. He spoke no English – I spoke no Spanish – but we had a grand time laughing and waving at people.
He drops me off at a bar near the hotel where I listen to a great Caribbean band, have another drink, and smoke another cigar. Buy a CD of their music and back to the hotel. Approached by a prostitute on the way.
Get Ella and we head back out. Get a bicycle taxi to “Chibana” – a Chinese restaurant- have a pizza and a drink. Bicycle taxi back to the hotel. Driver told us his hand was his girlfriend so I gave him a tip and told him to take her out for a nice meal. Finally to bed at 3:00 AM.
The city has much beauty and much decay. Lots of broken down old cars and motorcycles – but they can be fixed quickly. People are very friendly. Beautiful old buildings but many decayed and roof problems.
A rough travel day but we have arrived!