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Our mission this trip, as usual, is to look for, photograph and record cacti in their natural habitat. 

All very well, but if you arrive in a new country for the first time, it would be impolite not to take a look at various tourist aspects as well. We also realised that we still had to map out a rough itinerary for the coming days, so sat around with maps and books and soon confirmed that the majority of cacti seem to be spread around the island, but that the more attractive ones are found in the South East of the island, not too far from that well known landmark – Guantanamo Bay.

Now better aware of where we wanted to go we had chats with a tourist rep, about the state of main roads (narrow but good), ease of booking accommodation in Cassa Particulares along the road, at this time of the year and again were told, no problem. That just left transport to arrange so we made some enquiries about the possibilities of renting a car. Again, we were pleasantly surprised that this seemed to be quite straight forward with costs similar to anywhere else on the planet.

By now it was midday, so we set off for our touristic stroll, choosing to follow the circuit recommended in one our guide books. During the stroll I rediscovered how hot the sun is here, and that I’ll have to dig out my hat to protect my scalp at the first opportunity.

Before too long we passed a small bar where the waiter was extolling the virtues of its food and drinks, and as we were now passed midday, that seemed a good idea. So a light snack, a mojito (rum based cocktail) and bottle of beer each later we continued our stroll.

Just before sunset we arrived back at the hotel – one of the advantages of staying in a 25 floor hotel is that you can see it from afar – at least when we were on the first half of our walk, we would catch glimpses of the hotel when we looked down the side streets. Not so on the way back, when we strayed a bit farther in-land and were walking through narrower streets. Eventually a friendly Cuban gentleman, spotting us looking at maps, came to our rescue and pointed us in the right direction. I still managed to snap some 180 images that reflect my first impressions of Havana, all filed away under S1689.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the Botanical Garden.

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