Sometimes I look at the person and feel that he will cause my adventures.
Flight Moscow-Havana filled with cubans. I clapped my eyes on a guy with a funny hair for some reason. I looked out for people to talk to and solve a problem that was disturbing me for many hours – how to get from Havana airport to the city without paying 20$ for the cab.
I like to find a stupid reason to worry about. I guess, in these worries I was nervous for the whole trip in general. The first travel around the world, alone, even with a huge travel experience, is very exciting. More freedom, more responsibility for myself, improvisation every day, every minute, necessity to speak Spanish which I already forgot…
Standing by the baggage claim in Havana, I met a Russian guy and a Bulgarian living in Cuba, one who rushed into my eyes on the plane. They were friendly, and I shared taxi with them. Since that time we were always together until I left the country.
Improvisation began. It’s when all plans crash, situation gets out of control and I rely on other people and the chance just to bring a little chaos into my life. I love when things happen unexpectedly, love to plunge into the whirlpool of events and go with the flow.
I tried to refute the legend that couchsurfing in Cuba doesn’t exist.
I checked more than six hundred profiles of hosts, 590 of which offered rooms for rent, 5 were men who offered naked massage and 4 did not respond. I did my best but accomondation still wasn’t found. I wanted to experience cuban life from inside, not like a tourist and really wanted to find a host or any project with locals.
It is difficult to travel on budget in Cuba. Especially because I plan to travel for some years and for that reason my budget is extremely low. Platforms like couchsurfing and workaway not popular here, hostels on the whole island can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and even an idea of allowing tourists to save money does not get along in the cuban mind.
The answer from the host came in May. Silvia, a 60-years old afrocuban woman, approved my request and offered me to stay with her daughter, Anita. I carefully read her profile again to make sure it’s not an another crap with rented appartment. All reviews about that host were so nice that it gave me a hope that couchsurfing on Cuba is not completely dead.
Despite the fact that I had to get home first as every normal person will do, me and my new friends decided to go to the beach. We left things at Bulgarian guy’s place, in the district looked like a ghetto, and we went to the city’s muddy beach. I had pictured in my imagination a slightly different scenery when I thought about “beaches in Cuba”, but on that hot and sweaty day that beach was perceived as a revelation from above.
Suddenly the sky, that spewed out the burning sun all day, became murky. A tropical downpour began unexpectedly, blurring boundary between sea, send and sky. I could see only a wall of water. Only we could do is laugh and wipe our eyes every second to be able to see at least each other.
I’m in Cuba, swimming under a tropical downpour, with people I’ve known for a couple of hours, and I do not care that I still don’t have a place to stay. This moment when the large drops crashed down on sea and skin will be one of the greatest memories of this journey.
We ran home, although there was no longer any need to run. All our clothes got completely soaked. The roads turned into the rivers. Waves poured inside the bus. It seemed like an apocalypse, but everyone laughed and joked about it.
Despite the weather I had to go to search for my host’s place. She didn’t give me a direction by public transport, only the adress and advise to take a taxi. I had to figure out a way by myself. From one ghetto on several buses I moved to another. I had only an address, not the most accurate one as I realized later, and I had to ask hundreds of people to find the place. They helped me a lot and finally directed me to the ugly 12-floor building. Through the yellowish-greenish bad-smelling water, swearing in russian and hoping that at least my laptop will survive under the heavy rain, I reached a place. I got lost in the maze of dorm rooms but eventually found an apartment B10.
Nobody expected me in that apartment. I tried to explain in poor spanish “Anita-Silvia-couchsurfing-I’m your guest-hello-do you know me,” but the man in his underwear just looked at me weirdly, shook his head and sent me to another building.
At the second place woman recognized me. She gave me a separate room, we talked for a while as it was possible with my knowledge of spanish. Life was getting better.
After this crazy day I wanted to relax. It was a bit late and still rainy but me and my new friend decided to go to the center, take a walk around, drink mojito or two. Spending first evening in the ghetto was not an attractive idea. Moreover, my host didn’t seem very interested in talking or sharing some time together. Probably she was tired.
Central Havana was deadly empty. Our bus stopped near the Capitolio, the main traffic hub and center of the city. We walked around trying to find a cool bar. On the 20th round we got tired. I wanted mojito, but all the restaurants in that area were too expensive. I remembered about Malecon, the night heart of Havana, the legendary place where people drink and dance.
We went there but the rain washed away all the fun.
In the meantime, another problem has fallen on us. Bulgarian guy did not answer our calls. My friend didn’t have place to stay and he left all his stuff including money and passport at the place of that men. We started to be nervous. It was so stupid to lose money and documents on the first day in Cuba – not the best way to start a holiday. We called and called again, picturing in our minds criminal stories from cuban ghetto’s life, but in a couple of hours the guy picked up the phone.
Relieved, we decided to celebrate it at the bar on Malecon. We took a couple of mojito and cuba libre, chatted about everything and … realized that it was already midnight. We still needed to return to our ghettos. What made situation worst is that our homes were on opposite sides of the city.
We had to take a taxi – the first day in a new country is always quite expensive. We were singing ‘Despacito’ in one of this beautiful old cars and life was beautiful. The adventures of my friend did not end there, he didn’t find a guy, his phone died and he had to find another place to stay in the deep night. Fortunately I left him 50$ just in case so he survived that night. But this is not my story. When it was happening I was already sleeping in my lovely cuban bed.
“I will not leave you alone” – such simple but important words when you’re in trouble. Maybe the problem is not as big as big your fear of needs to solve it alone. When people are together, all the shit turn out to be fun and we take it easier.