Day 5. 24/10. From Baracoa to Moa to Holguin.
After this exhausting but beautiful trip to mountain Yunke yesterday we rest during the morning and then go to Carlo’s modest hut to say goodbye. We leave him some swimming googles for his children and I promise to put him into contact with a german girl called whom he had lost contact with a long time ago. Carlos had one day found a bottle message at the beach from , who had thrown the message into the ocean from a cruising ship. Maybe Facebook will help me to put them into contact again.
With our heavy bag packs we walk through the dark sand for a last time and take a bicitaxi to the train station where we will have to wait 3 hours until finding a Jeep that will take us to Moa, a small Village which we will use as inter station on our way to Holguin.
The driver of our green Jeep at first refuses to take me with him in his 4×4 because he lost his driver’s license quite some time ago and he doesn’t want to attract the police’s attention by mounting a foreigner in his car. I pull my cap deep into my face, promise to look the least foreign I can and a couple of minutes and some CUCs later he is convinced. Altogether I pay 3 CUC, around 2,30€.
Our Jeep is from the 70s and runs – like almost all cars in the countryside – on petrol and not regular gas. While racing up the steep hills over bumpy roads the car emits dangerously black exhaust smokes, rattles and shakes every single screw and every single one of our bones. Our backs bump against the metal housing, our backsides against the poorly-sprung seats and our heads against the steel roof. Not exactly the most comfortable ride but quite an experience! In the truck itself there is space for up to 10 passengers and the driver:
Alongside the road we stop a couple of times to leave and pick up other passengers and to buy some snacks. Cucuruchu (a mix of coconut and lots of sugar and other ingredients like orange, guava and pineapple wrapped in a palm leaf) and nuts in sugar coating (5 Cuban Pesos each). Both of it very sweet, too sweet for my taste.
When we finally arrive in Moa we can hardly stand so shaken are our bones and it turns out that all Jeeps to Holguin have already left. One important lesson for traveling in Cuba is: Traveling during the day means losing the day and paying little to no money (that’s when it’s cheap because there are many people who want to travel) or travel during the night and make better use of your time but also pay a lot more money. You chose.
When we finally find a Jeep willing to take us to Holguin the driver knows how to make use of his monopole and asked for 40 CUC. After some hard arguing and we end up paying 15 CUC (around 10€) for the 3 hour ride. Relatively much money but Moa doesn’t seem like an particularly attractive city to spend a night at and in Holguin we have one of Maricel’s aunts waiting for us with supper and a huge … bed!
So we get into our second Jeep that day (this time it’s red one), stop to get some black market petrol for the ride and take off through the late afternoon. On our way from Moa to Holguin we pass through desert landscapes, full of pipes and refineries. Not a single tree in sight, it seems like we were on mars. Our companions in the Jeep explain us that this is a Quicksilver mine, taking pictures is strongly prohibited.
When we finally arrive in Holguin it’s 9 o’clock in the evening but to us it feels like 2 in the morning.. Maricel’s cousin, Daichel picks us up with his moto and drives us, one by one, to Aunt Nury’s house where we can finally take our first shower in five days (not counting our baths in the sea). The water that runs down my body is dark red. After supper I leave Maricel to converse with her aunt and fall into a comfortable bed.