Varadero (Cuba) trip, April 2002

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Our hotel was approximately half way down the Varadero peninsula. After taking delivery of our rental car, we drove out of Varadero and headed west toward Matanzas. After driving around part of Matanzas, we headed south on route CC,toward Limonar. Just past Guanabana, we saw a sign for the Canimar River and decided to investigate.

Canimar river Canimar River.

Tour boats bring tourists to this park/camping area on the river's shore. It is also possible to rent basic huts for $5. US per night.

Leaving Canimar, we returned to the main road (CC) and continued toward Limonar (taking few passengers along). In Cuba, most people do not have cars, so at the entrance and exit of each town, shelters are set where people wait for (infrequent) buses or a ride. Cubans that have cars are required to take passengers, if they have room. Tourist cars are not required to do so but it is a great way to meet true Cubans.

The traffic on route CC is an interesting mix of heavy trucks, farming ,equipment horse drawn buggies and bicycles. We dropped our passengers in Limonar.

In town most people use bicycles or ride in horse drawn buggies (that carry about 10 people), the closest you get to a bus service.

We then headed to Coliseo (taking new passengers) and north to Cardenas (the home town of Elian Gonzalez, the kid from last year's US-Cuban story).

We decided to have a snack in Cardenas. Seeing that we were translating the Spanish menu, a man started a conversation in English. He was Cuban but had spent 2 years in Russia, where he learned English (what a mix).

Cubans are very friendly and it is customary to invite new friends to visit their house. His family lived in a colonial building (about 200 years old), on the second floor. It was surprising how cool the apartment was, considering the outside temperature (of course no air conditioning). The apartment had access to a roof balcony where our friend maintains an amateur radio antenna.

Below, left, the family. Our new friend plays guitar (part time) in Varadero.
Below, right, Cardenas from the balcony. On the street, you can see one of these horse buggies.
Cuban family

View from roof

 After some local music, we headed back to Varadero (along route CN), giving a ride to people heading to Matanzas.
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