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Days 1 - 2 Cuba

Hello again, all well, we have a full boat of people  and on our way to our first non Santiago destination.

My first day was spent clearing in, taking fuel, water and so on, I assembled my bike and went for a short ride before 1700 when the plane was due to land at which point I thought some cleaning and tidying was  in order. BUT - before that - first impressions; brilliant, everyone seems friendly and helpful, clearing in had been trepidatious but was fine and easy, George the marina manager was really helpful - I’d wondered about first night dinner, and he suggested getting a local restaurant from Granma Island to bring over a meal, this seemed sensible so I ordered a  fish, squid, octopus, lobster, and 2 prawn dishes to be brought over once everyone had arrived. Inevitably the plane was over an hour late landing and clearing in took them longer than expected so they arrived at 2015 to much jollity and a blackout at the marina, not uncommon. We had some fun hellos and got stuck into some cold beers and wines,  shortly after these had started the dinner arrived, 10 dollars a head including rice, salad, fried plantaine chips - excellent dinner and friendly restaurateur, once dinner was finished people were collapsing so we all headed off to bed and and a good nights sleep.

A fairly early start ensued owing to jet lagged visitors, breakfast was had, some organising and passport checking etc. was done so that everyone was signed onto the good Ship Yemaya, and by 0930 we were jumping into a 50s Ford something, all 6 of us in a family car with driver to head to Santiago. We were dropped off at the Cathedral and quickly scooped up by a guide who, oddly, only spoke French, it could only happen with Christine in charge! We had a fun walking tour of the sights including a museum of the revolution, Castro’s family home prior to the revolution. Some vultury birds scavenging the little rubbish that there was, we had a Mojito at a Casa Typico which was fun and refreshing with odd voodooey paintings on the wall. The difference between houses one could stay in with the family for the night - Casa Particulares  Blue signs, and those where bedrooms were rented by the hour - brothels, red signs. We enjoyed some good views, had a good taste of Cuban society in a coffee shop where we met a table of musicians and  bought a bracelet at a touristy artisan market thingy before all agreeing we were in need of sitting down and something to eat and drink. We also decided we needed some Pesos so Graham braved the shady currency dealer who engaged in some theatre by making a bit of a song and dance about being shady and trying to rush him into not counting the money because he’s spotted some police coming, luckily Graham saw through that one and told him he was 1000 pesos out on a 2900 peso deal and with a bit of a foolish grin the 1000 was stumped up and we went for lunch at a roof top fish restaurant.

The guide had been keeping us away from the Rum museum saying it was no longer open to the public and some talk of some cigars being bought had been mentioned. During lunch the guide disappeared and came back with 3 boxes of 25 cigars each  and 3 bottles of rum. We had only wanted 3 cigars! This was the deal closing part of the day, he had obviously been making a little from the places we had been to anyway but this was pay dirt moment. Innocently we’d assumed about 15 dollar for the Rum. And no idea about the cigars but the prices were: 60 us dollars per bottle of Rum and 370 dollars per box of cigars. After some embarrassed conversations, the rum price came to 20 dollars and the boxes of cigars were sent back and a packet of 5 for 15 dollars was purchased. Lunch with a couple more Mojitos was excellent, similar to previous evening's dinner, and we went back to be picked up by the Ford again and went back to the marina.

George the marina manager had now been replaced by Lionel - they do 24 hours at a time, and we went back to the boat for some swimming and socialising at the Valentines do being held at the Marina. 

Chappy to look at the battery charger never materialised, we had a few beers and were taken in hand by the locals to dance, they doing Salsa and we doing mum and dad dancing. A great evening marred slightly by them a) trying to charge us for the drinks twice over - we’d paid at the bar and then b) Lionel telling us we’d also have to pay an additional 75 dollars cash for the visitors leaving the marina. This just felt 100% like a scam and left us feeling a little disappointed overnight. Anyway this morning I think he’d decided not to try to pursue it and we cleared out without having to argue or deploy some good tactics Graham had thought of to put pressure on him had it been a scam, - just emails requesting the receipt for these visas paid in cash. We donated a hook to the Harbour master from our fishing box as he really wanted one. We left at about 0810 and are having a lovely sail with many sail changes, the wind having gone from North through East to South East. Our neighbours, French, in a Moody 376 are on the beam, they left a few minutes before us and will hopefully arrive a few minutes after us. Chivirico we think is do- able but it has narrow channels in and some shallow water but we’re hoping it’ll work, if not we’ll be out overnight probably.

Well that’s all for now.

Jock and the Havana Laugh gang!

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