Another few months have flown past and we have continued to have a mixture of experiences and challenges … none too serious but “fun” at the time.
Mexico to Cuba
After our delay and visa hassles in Cancun we arrived in Cuba. Our first stop Havana … a city that easily creates a fantasy. The renovated colourful houses and the renovated old American cars create quite a vibrant and romantic picture.
This picture is an illusion!!
Havana was our first experience of the contrasts, the good in the people and the bad of the failed system in Cuba … accepted that conditions have been made worse by America’s severe bullying. All this has done is give the regime an excuse for their despicable performance.
We had many enjoyable times, others were trying and others interesting. We stayed at a variety of homestays which gave us opportunities to speak to the local people. I had a bout of the worst diarrhoea I think I’ve had in my life … together with a raging temperature. The bug was as virulent as the potion taken before having a colonoscopy! For 2 days all I had was 2 Cokes and a few glasses of water … and from that day turned vegetarian in Cuba! This meant that in our few days in Vinales we didn’t do much.
We enjoyed Cienfeugos, thought that Trinidad was over rated although the nearby beach at Playa Ancon made for an enjoyable outing … with a Mad Max taxi ride included. In Santa Clara we stayed at a great homestay. The food was so good that we ate in every night. Here we saw first-hand the monuments to the glorification of Che Guevara and the local “propaganda” department at work.
Breakfast is not included in the room rate and all establishments charge $5 for meals that range between adequate to way more than can be consumed … and always featuring guava jam!
Read more about Cuba here:
- Visa/Tourist Card for Cuba
- Holiday in Cuba – Part 1
- Holiday in Cuba – Part 2
- Holiday in Cuba – Part 3
- Holiday in Cuba – Final
Cuba to Costa Rica
From Havana we went to Costa Rica. The first problem that we faced here was that Carol’s suitcase didn’t arrive. We had flown with Cubana Air. After the disgusting service and run around we got from them they relegated themselves to the worst airline we’ve experienced.
In Costa Rica we initially stayed in San Jose for a few days and hoped the case would arrive. This city is a dump but compared to Cuba is a shopper’s paradise!
From San Jose we took a bus to La Fortuna where the rainy, windy weather made this a mainly indoors few days. From there we had a short in distance but long in time jeep-ferry-jeep trip to the cloud forest area of Monteverde.
Here I had an enjoyable afternoon ziplining, we took a few walks including a night walk and had a hike up a steep, rocky, slippery mountain and enjoyed our stay. This was our first hostel stay and it was excellent in every way … just getting on to the top bunk every night was initially a bit of a mission!
We left Monteverde for Quepos travelling via San Jose to collect Carol’s case at the airport. It was a long day … bus, wait at the airport and then a shuttle. San Jose airport is undergoing renovation and there was only one crowded, limited choice restaurant available. In Quepos we stayed in an apartment slightly out of town, surrounded by jungle.
From Quepos we headed south to Uvita and stayed in a delightful hostel … we had some reservations about booking this as it had a shared bathroom. However, there were no problems and the vibe between the guests made this an ideal place. Adding to our previous good hostel experience. The one advantage of hostels is that there are many like-minded people using them and sharing travel ideas and experiences.
It was here that I decided that doing a survival Spanish course in Costa Rica would be far better than waiting later in our travels. Close by in an inland town San Isidro was the SEPA Spanish school – we attended lessons there for 2 weeks … and now can just “survive” … still with the help of Google translate.
All in all, we spent about 5 weeks in Costa Rica.
Read more about Costa Rica here:
Costa Rica to Panama
From Costa Rica it was a short bus ride to Boquete in Panama. This town often ranks highly on the “best places to retire” lists and it is easy to see why. The weather is mild and there are many lifestyle options.
There is also an attractive government pensionado program that offers many benefits and discounts.
From here we took a full day bus trip to Panama City. Our main objective was to visit the Panama Canal and an added attraction that we previously knew nothing about was the Casco Viejo – the old city – that is in the middle of a major revival.
Read about our bus trip to Panama here
Our next country will be Colombia but I’ll cover that in my next update.
Travel far and safe and dream big
PS I’ve added a My Best Resources page to the site which may be of some interest and please pass this on to any of your friends who may be interested.
“Travel will change your life”