Camagüey, a city in hibernation.

 

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It’s 220km from Trinidad to Camagüey so we decided to take the Viazul bus and not a taxi.

This was done partly to save money and partly to experience Cuban public transport. But it was mainly a result of our agent, Yosvany, vanishing into thin air. After making initial contact in Havana he was to organise all the accommodation and arrange transport.

Suddenly the transport became our responsibility.

There is a rail line that runs from Havana to Santiago de Cuba but this  is notoriously unreliable with a timetable that is a mystery, even to the locals.

We left Trinidad on Highway 12 and headed east joining up with the CC (Carretera Central) near Sancti Spiritus.

The road over the central plain was in good condition, with mangos, bananas, sugar cane and peanuts growing along the way.

Our Yutong coach wasn’t as new as the ones used by Transtur but it was air conditioned to an arctic temperature and the seats were comfortable, if not a little on the nose with ingrained BO.

We arrived in the late afternoon and went straight to our Casa Particular.

It was a bit too far out of the centre for our liking, but the walk wouldn’t hurt us, especially after sitting on the bus for hours.

The walk back after dinner was a little more annoying

Camagüey is a labyrinth of winding streets intersected with small parks and squares.

The GPS on our Triposo App maps had been working perfectly until we arrived in Camagüey. Now it decided to quit – just when we needed it most.

There are different theories as to the origin of the town plan. One, that I like, is that it was deliberately made to be a maze in order to confuse the pirates who would often raid the city.

Whatever the reason it has resulted in a layout that leaves the town very disjointed.

Compared to Trinidad, Camagüey is light on for tourists. So much so that we were continually bumping into people who had been on the bus from Trinidad.

There are still the touts but they are less frequent and not nearly as persistent.

After booking our bus tickets to Santiago de Cuba, our final destination, we went wandering around the old town.

The first stop was the Parque Ignacio Agramonte and the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.

Camagüey isn’t just sleepy, it’s gone into hibernation. The Museum of San Juan de Dios, in the square of the same name, was closed for repairs.

Winter is the height of the tourist season in Cuba, yet there is a reticence in Camagüey to embrace visitors.

This is Cuba’s third largest city and well and truly in a time warp.

I think it’s happy that way.

Cuba seems to operate on a much more open level of corruption than we have been used to. Apart from museum staff, who expect a fee beyond what you have paid for at the door, the police seem to get free drinks at the local bars.

One of Camagüey favourite sons is Dr Carlos J. Finlay who is famous for discovering the cause of Yellow Fever. His house is open for display and is also the centre for the local Red Cross.

Plaza de los Trabajadores in another of the countless squares with Inglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad on one side and a number of banks and the radio station and convention centre on the other side.

Still walking and continually finding more hidden gems we came across Plaza del Carmen, with more street art in the small square than we had seen in all of Camagüey.

As it turned out Martha Jiménez was the artist responsible and her studio was right in the Plaza.

She is a local sculptor and painter who champions women’s rights.

For a city that is fast asleep, Martha is well and truly on the ball.

One Response to “Camagüey, a city in hibernation.”

  1. Alex Mifsud says:

    Bruce and Thea. We’re at the arrivederci Roma stage of our Italy group tour. As our tour escort duties are easing and the internet improving, I am starting to get time to catch up more regulraly with your blogs. I love the Cuba posts. Cheers, Alex.

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