My last vacation was spent in Cuba from December 28th 2018 to January 6th 2019. I can already imagine that you might think that I spent an amazing time soaking sun on a beach while seeping mojitos, smoking Cohibas, and eating great Caribbean food but actually, this trip was stressing. A little bit of background information: this trip was my 6th to the island. I even had the opportunity to stay 10 months on my 5th trip, so I was no stranger to the customs or making my way around the cities.
As I mentioned before, my wife, kids, and I landed on December 28th at the Varadero airport and from there, we had to make our way to La Habana. For some reason, we had a really hard time to get a bus to our destination. Usually there are always available seats but because it was end of the year, reservations were harder to come by. I will admit that 1) we had decided to travel at the very last minute and 2) I didn’t realized how much my wife wanted to do during this trip. The big thing for me was that I had to be at work on January 7th at 9:00 am sharp!
Since before leaving Canada, I was under the impression that we were going to stay in La Habana which is close to Varadero where our return flight was on January 6th. But once we arrived to La Habana, my wife started planning to go to Guantanamo and Baracoa.
Did I mention that we were at the end of the year and that reservation for travelling was near impossible? Well that didn’t deter my wife. After a few bribes, two seats on the bus for a one-way-trip were magically made available to us and on December 30th, we were on our way to Guantanamo. I am not foreign to the idea of bribing people to get things moving but I was very worried about not being able to make our way back to La Habana for at least January 4th.
After 16 hours on a bus with my wife, our 4 years old daughter and our other 7 months old daughter, we arrived to Guantanamo and started to prepare to celebrate the end of the year with the locals. The festivities were actually really good. People were dancing, eating, drinking, socializing (a concept that seems very foreign to me now due to Covid). We welcomed the new year on a very high note (pun not intended).
On January 2nd, we went to the bus station to inquire about our chances to get two seats for a return trip to La Habana. To my horror, there were virtually no more seats available until January 12th! Waiting for this long would have meant missing our return plane trip and me missing my returned date to work (which I could not afford to do). At that point my wife suggested: “well, since we are already here, might as well try to go to Baracoa and see if we can get a return trip to La Habana from there”. This idea was desperate but also very calculated. Usually, the trip from La Habana to Guantanamo is made by a bus that actually goes all the way to Baracoa. Meaning that if you can guarantee a return ticket from Baracoa, there is a good chance that you will actually be able to go all the way to La Habana. The only big problem was that Baracoa was 3 hours away from Guantanamo… Meaning that we were now looking at a bus trip of 19 hours with a 4 years old and a 7 months old.
We went for it. We travelled from Guantanamo to Baracoa, stayed there one day, and the next day (January 4th) we travelled from Baracoa in the afternoon all the way to La Habana. We arrived at destination the morning of January 5th and we immediately asked for two seats on a bus leaving the next day from La Habana to Varadero. We rested in the capital for one day and on January 6th, we took a 2 hours bus trip to return to Varadero and in the afternoon, we were on our return flight to Canada.
Looking back at this trip, I don’t think that I would ever do this kind of trip again.