Finally it’s time to go. The Captain comes on the speakers before we sail out telling us that it will be a rough ride into Miami because of the tag end of Hurricane Matthew but for us it seems like smooth sailing.
This, I guess, is the Coda. If you want go to Cuba now to see an area “unspoiled” by tourists you’re too late. There are Havana Tour buses all over carrying Canadians, Europeans and some Americans with groups like Road Scholar and other licensed American p2p programs. Cubans operate large fleets of comfortable Chinese Air Conditioned buses. The buses came regularly to Las Terrazas and the cooperative farm we visited. Their timing was good, one group would pull in as another would pull out. At Las Terrazas we had to wait a little while as the group ahead of us finished their coffee in the town’s coffee shop and again before we went into the artist’s studio. This was really quite common. The exception was the backlog at the lunch restaurant outside Cienfuegos where we sat on the bus for over an hour. Even La Taberna, where we went on our own to hear Son music, had a smaller group of Americans on some other p2p tour. However people are not yet jaded. As we sail out they wave and cars toot their horns.
As the bureaucracy of “self-guided” p2p tours becomes better developed more Americans will set out on their own. The one thing American’s are not supposed to do right now is sit on the beach drinking mojitos, daiquiri’s or a Cuba Librés (a drink invented by US Marines who mixed Cuban Rum with the new drink Coca Cola at the turn of the last century, toasting “Cuba Libré” or “Free Cuba” after the Spanish-American War.) Right now Cubans have to share their beaches only with Europeans and Canadians, but watch out, that will change.
I do not respond well to regimentation, but I enjoyed this cruise to Cuba and would actually consider doing it again, I want to get to Santiago and get that walking tour of Cienfuegos. I want to see those stained glass windows. The cruise has a lot to offer, like drinkable water that you don’t have to pay for, just fill your bottle every day from the sink, and reliable air conditioning for sleeping. Cuba was hot and humid and Suzi was often on the verge of exhaustion. If I did it again, I would skip the whole organized p2p program and take my chances with the federal bureaucracy and the ghost of Jesse Helms. But I have the feeling that I am not done with Cuba yet.