After that stressful encounter and 3 hours of seeing the Cuban country side, I was in Santiago. Cuba’s second largest City. It felt good to have finally made it to my destination. There were times, I thought I was going to sleep in a Cuban jail. It’s crazy to think that was just a few hours ago.
My first impression of the city was intetesting. It felt like any Latin American city for sure. However, there was a twist to it. The streets curved and zigzaged in a way that could make the most experienced traveler get lost. Also remember, wifi and internet connection here is limited. So google maps can’t help when you are confused in this maze of a city.
I got to my hostel, we were all tired. Our local friend was annoyed that the address on the website was off. So, we had to park on the side of the street to call the owner. Everybody was cranky due to the 3 hour long drive. During those three hours, we were all worried about the goverment police having random check points. Which is common in Cuba. However, I should be fine since I’m American. Sadly, my new local friends could be in big trouble.
I paid my local friend 15 dollars for helping me out. That extra pay could get him in trouble with the goverment. Someone who could be a police in normal clothing, could say that he ripped me off. Which Cuba punishes locals harshly. The guy saved me 120 dollars, giving him 15 dollars is the least I could do.
My local friend was giving me an inside view of Cuba. The not so friendly part. The part where it’s own people are valued less than the visiting tourists. Even with everything that has happened, I kept trying to keep positive.
Eventually, the owner picked up his phone. Told us the exact address. We drove to his hostel and said our thanks/goodbyes to the taxi driver. The owner told me the house rules and showed me to my room. While my local friend waited outside, I settled into my room and took a shower. I was getting ready to meet another friend before his performance. After cleaning up, I step outside of the hostel. I couldn’t wait to see what this beautiful and exotic city has to offer. It was time to explore Santiago de Cuba!