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Yesterday we had agreed with the desk that we would stay another night. They like to be paid up front, so this morning I went to reception with my credit card to settle the bill. It appeared that a group booking was due later and they would like us to change rooms. No problem, as we were upgraded from three spacious rooms on the first floor towards the back of the complex, to three cabanas, one each, right at the cliff’s edge with a magnificent view. The view really justified the hotel’s name: Balcon de Caribe.

When we picked up our second replacement car in Santiago de Cuba, last Tuesday (9th), they were keen to give us the best car available, but the draw back was that it was due for its 40,000 km service in 800 km time. It had been too soon to service the car then, but since our pick up we had driven the required kms and now needed to get the service done. We found the car rental place with remarkable ease – normally we try to avoid cities as they can be nightmares to get in and out of.

The service was done in an hour, during that time we went to the supermarket across the road, which was more like a UK ‘pound shop’ but with much less choice and absolutely nothing on offer with a price tag of under GBP 1. Nothing to tempt us here. The coffee shop next door served us an orange juice but coffee was not on the menu. After receiving our drinks and making them last, coffee was suddenly available, so two large cups and one espresso were ordered.

Then it was back to the hotel and move between the side of the pool, 30C in the shade of palm trees, and the cabana, where the air-conditioning was keeping the temperature to a comfortable 20C.

It’s a hard life, being a cactus explorer!

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