End of Season 1

That’s all folks! Stage 1 of my trip, through Latin American countries, has ended. It has been 4 intense months, travelling in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile & Easter Island, Peru and Cuba. I’ve had it all: beaches, mountains, deserts, jungle; heat and cold; huge cities and little villages; 20-hour bus trips or 3-day boat journeys; many experiences and  nice encounters. I can tell you, travelling in South America is a breeze. I also believe that the fact that my native language is Spanish perhaps helped me discover more than other foreigners, who are sometimes too reliant on the backpacker “circuit” and don’t get to interact with local people unconnected to it.

I’m grateful to those who’ve followed the blog, you’ve encouraged me to keep on. I know you’re all busy people, so thank you guys for having the patience to keep reading it.

Of course this is NOT the end. I’m now about to begin the next stage: the silk road. I’ll travel from Istanbul to Xian, from Europe to the Far East. A romantic journey along the most important trade route of all times, in the footsteps of legendary travellers such as Marco Polo, Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.

It’s not going to be easy. Unlike South America, there’s little backpacker infrastructure here, visas are difficult to obtain, transport is less frequent, and so on. And of course communication will be much more difficult, because I don’t speak any of the local languages. But, as usual, big effort, big reward.

So the second stage looks promising: more and better trips, more adventure and – if internet is available – more and better posts.

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Cuba – The Revolution!!

As my last stop in Latin American countries, I visited Cuba.

Political slogans in Cuba

Cuba is a unique country in many ways. Where else can’t you buy a Coke or eat in a McDonald’s? Probably not in many countries.

The streets are devoid of adverts, and in their place there are all kinds of propaganda and political slogans, some of them quite curious. All this is also a drag for tourists: you can visit the Museum of the Revolution, Che Guevara’s mausoleum, the sites of major battles during the revolution, etc.

The empire has tried to isolate us, and they are who have become isolated

The country is experiencing major changes at a fast pace. Even though most Cubans continue to work for the public sector, an increasing number are self-employed. It takes going there and speaking to them to realise the effort they have to do to make ends meet, with average salaries around 20 US$ per month. They are real survivors. Education and health care are good quality and provided for free. Even people on menial jobs are often educated.

Che Guevara’s image in Plaza de la Revolución

If you go to Cuba, the best option for accommodation are licensed “casas particulares” (homestays), where I stayed every night. I was told by Spanish tourists that hotels are generally substandard and overpriced. These private homes are always good, in good condition, they offer an excellent breakfast and sometimes a tasty dinner. Besides, you get the opportunity to meet and talk with Cubans, and hosts are always knowledgeable about their own city. Go on your own. If you go with one of the many touts at the bus station or recommended by your hosts in your previous destination (they always try), then the price they charge you will be increased by 5 CUC (5 US$) per night, to account for the commissions.

Another oddity in Cuba are cars. 1950’s American automobiles are still in use, many of them work as private taxis. Those are some of the few cars seen in Cuba. Streets in cities other than Havana are largely car-free, since most Cubans cannot afford a car.