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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 15
Cuba and Florida
 Classic American car in Havana
Day 3
Miami - Camaguey, Cuba

The pre-arranged 3:45AM wakeup call roused us into action. Finally my temperature is normal!  Hooray!


Our entire group of twenty-two Globus adventurers met in the lobby for coffee and muffins, then we boarded a bus to the airport with Bob leading the way, providing us with much helpful information.

With Bob leading the group to the Miami airport
Bob Young instructing us on procedures en route to Miami Int'l Airport

Our American Airlines flight departed Miami International Airport at 8:15AM and less than one hour later we landed in tropical Camaguey, Cuba.  We made it through customs and immigration with no problems and then met Ramiro, who works for Havanatur, the government touring agency.  Ramiro will be our Cuban guide and translator during our stay on the island.


We land in Camaguay, Cuba!
We land in Camaguey, Cuba

Ramiro and Bob herded us onto a very comfortable, large, air-conditioned Havanatur bus, which will be like a home base for us every day for the next week.  The bus was parked among beautifully restored classic American Buicks, Chevys and Plymouths, plus many Russian Ladas, all relics from a by-gone era.


Beautiful classic American cars
We were amazed at how many classic American cars we saw

The day is sunny, quite hot and humid but we are all jazzed to be in Cuba!


With Ramiro, our fantastic and funny Cuban guide
      Ramiro: "Es complicado"

Camaguey is the third largest Cuban city, and we drove into the heart of town, passing countless people on bicycles, horse-drawn carriages, taxi-bikes, scooters and hundreds of stray dogs.  The buildings and houses we see are in dire need of repair, and over the next week we will come to find that this is the case all over Cuba.  For the most part, we see many happy, smiling faces as we pass by the townsfolk.


Camaguay, Cuba

Our first stop was the gallery and workshop of accomplished and popular artist Senora Martha Jimenez, who graciously answered our questions through her interpreter.  We enjoyed wandering through her studio examining her many varied creations.


Artist Martha Jimenez, with Ramiro translating at her workshop in Camaguay
Senora Martha Jimenez, famed Cuban artist

Next Ramiro had Hermes, our very capable driver, wind us down many narrow streets through Camaguey until we stopped at Plaza de Carmen, where a knowledgeable gentleman named Sandoval enlightened us about the cultural and historical aspects of the area.


Architecture in Camaguay
Architecture in Camaguay
Typical billboard in Cuba

We snapped some photos and soon boarded the bus for a short jaunt to a paladar called Meson del Principe, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of traditional Cuban food – soup, mangos, pineapple, grilled fish, shrimp, fried plantains, salad and bread, washed down with the popular Cuban drink called Cuba Libre (a Cuban Coke-like soda with local rum.)  I am off alcohol for much of this trip due to the antibiotics but our friend Mike seemed to enjoy the drink, while Rob and DeeAnn sampled two of the local beers.  After a sweet papaya desert, Bob led us out of the restaurant and into the narrow street where a surprise awaited us – there were a dozen or more taxi-bicycles, each with a driver to pedal us to our next stop, Agramonte Park.


DeeAnn, Rob, Bonnie and Phil at El Meson del Principe in Camaguay, Cuba
DeeAnn, Rob, Bonnie and Phil

Our young driver, Rainer, was cute and personable and the short ride through the narrow, winding Camaguey streets was very pleasant on this sunny, warm, breezy Sunday afternoon.


In our taxi-bike in Camaguay
Rainer, our pedicab driver in Camaguay
Rainer, our young pedicab driver

Sandoval once again provided our group with interesting facts and tidbits of trivia about this beautiful park and its towering cathedral.


From the park we walked several blocks past many shops, closed because today is Sunday.


In short order we found ourselves at Camaguey’s Gran Hotel, a five-story elegant old building that we will call home for the next two days.  After complimentary Cuba Libres (mine “sin alcohol”) we checked in, fell into our twin beds and rested.

Our Hotel in Camaguay
Our hotel in Camaguay

Our room at the Camaguey Gran Hotel is ample, clean and air-conditioned, with tiled floors and fourteen-foot high ceilings.


At 6PM we assembled at the hotel’s fifth floor dining room for a dinner of fish, pork, chicken, vegetables, pizza, papaya, soup, bread, cake and ice cream.


After dinner Carol and I joined Ken, Jan, Jerry, Mary Caye, Doris and Ben on the hotel’s top deck to enjoy the sunset, balmy breezes and stimulating conversation.


At 9PM Carol and I said goodnight to our new friends, found our way to our room, and fell into bed reflecting on our first day of adventure on the beautiful and mysterious island of Cuba.


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