Thursday, 18 August 2016
Leaving Cayo Coco - eventually
Drinks, lunch - today enlivened by Padron Peppers - then more drinks as we wait the day out for our pick up for the transfer back to Havana at 5pm. It's too hot to go out into the sun with no prospect of a shower, but it's not much cooler in the bar. I make a couple of trips into the air-conditioned shop just to cool down. Our coach arrives on time and picks up at a couple of other hotels, including the Melia which has rooms over a lagoon and the glamorous-looking Pullman which is brand new but approached via a pile of shipping containers that appear to be used for accommodation - hopefully temporary homes for builders rather than permanent ones for staff. There's an impressive climbing attraction by the Melia but everything is so spaced out and I'm not sure how tourists are meant to get to them.
There are just two flights leaving the Jardines los Reyes airport this afternoon - ours and one to Canada - we're all called 3 hours before which seems excessive for an internal flight, especially in a small airport with so little traffic. While Simon and I check I for this flight, Alex manages to check us in online for tomorrow's. There are only about a dozen of us in the domestic departures lounge which is furnished with a selection of blue and cream vinyl sofas and what looks like a chenille 3 piece suite from the 1980s. The snack bar has only cigarettes, fake Pringles and honey for sale. There's a TV showing the Olympics, a TV monitor showing the time but no flight information. Our flight time of 2110 comes and goes without incident, then around 20 minutes later the arrival of the inbound flight is announced.
Finally we board the prop plane that will take us back to Havana, landing at the domestic airport of Playa Baracoa about 28km west of Havana. We emerge from the tiny airport into the sticky night air and board another coach for our return to Havana. Our trip schedule had said we'd be dropped at a hotel and met by a rep who would transfer us to our accommodation but the coach rep didn't seem to know anything about it and we knew our way anyway as we were returning to Casa Arrate. In the end, we were dropped at the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and walked to the casa, arriving after midnight. Ines was waiting to let us in and we apologised for our very late arrival.
We'd had no dinner and Alex was too tired but Simon and I went out in search of something to eat. The bar where we ate on our first night had stopped serving but they directed us down the road to a bar that opened late. Reuquia was buzzing, mostly with young locals, but we were found a seat in the mezzanine and ordered wine and toasties which were most welcome.