Have you ever talked with someone, who has been to Varadero or Cayo Coco? If so, you properly not recognize Cuba as we illustrate it here on the blog. The reason? Because Varadero, Cayo Coco and so on are beautiful places, but have nothing to do with the real Cuba. Here you stay in a well-groomed plastic version of a great country, with everything you can imagine. Huge all-inclusive resorts with vast buffets at the restaurants, lots of bars, beaches and postcard-like nature.
Going to this part of Cuba, is quite an experience. You have a 27 km dam, leading to the main island Cayo Coco, and the surrounding islands. Before entering the dam, you have a checkpoint, where you must show your passport to enter the area. Just before you enter the area, you see a lot apartment-buildings, where the cubans working at the resorts live. It is prohibited for a civil cuban to enter the area, unless they pay a lot of money. In 2000 the law changed, before no cuban could enter the island, but now it is ok, for those who can afford it, which is almost no one.
The only cubans here, are the people working at the hotels, restaurants, bars, cleaners etc. Due to the fact that most tourists here, are non-thinking, slightly drunk and without any idea about the real Cuba, it is quite popular for Cubans to work here – just imagine the tips that they can get, simpered to cuban economy? Each morning busses are bringing the workers to the islands, and returning the last shift.
We where heading to the island Cayo Guillermo, this destination is known for its five kilometers of pristine beaches of fine white sand, the sea is calm, shallow and crystal clear waters of a beautiful turquoise blue. While crossing the dam, we stopped at an amazing restaurant, places at a small island. The restaurant was placed in the top of a wooden tower, with a great view over the sea. Do yourself the favor to make a stop here – the food is nothing special – but the location is worth the lot.
The shallow beaches are great for kite-surfing, so if you fancy that, this is the place to go. The beaches are windy, which makes the area perfect. Cayo Guillermo is know to be where Hemminway wrote one of his books, “Island in the stream”. We thought the island is really beautiful, loved the nature, the sea, the sun and so on. But the way of tourism here, the “all-inclusive-burping-eating-nagging-people”, are really not for us. We enjoy places that are more real, relaxed and original. It is fine for a few days, we spend 3 nights here, before returning to Havana, from the airport at Cayo Coco.
One thing you really MUST do, if you go here, is to get up really early, before the sunrise, grad your camera and walk to the small mangrove lakes, where the flamingos feed shrimp in the morning sun. It is such a beautiful sight, seeing theses great creatures walking in huge folks, feeding and fishing. Just remember the the mosquitos also feed at the mangroves, so remember your spray 🙂 We got a lift with one of the busses for workers both ways, and are sure that a trips to the flamingos is something that not very many tourist do. Sadly – because it is breathtaking – and a lifetime memory…