We started the morning very early before there was even sun out. It was 5 am and the cuban streets were silent with no sign of life. We prepared to check out of the first casa particular and gathered ours bags and luggage. We caught what seemed to be the only taxi available in Central Havana and headed to Old Havana.
Our bus was set to arrive at 6 am so we wanted to make sure we arrived early. We arrived at Hotel Parque Central were the Transtur bus line would pick us up at. We were ready to embark on a 14-hour bus ride to Santiago de Cuba which is on the eastern side of the island. Little did we know, that we would become a victim to CPT (Cuban People Time) yet once again. Our friend Andi waited with us to make sure we didn’t have any problems. It was at least an hour before the bus would arrive so my wife, the kids, and Andi slept on some very comfortable couches at the hotel. We were early so I decided to explore the hotel. There was a lot of cool artifacts and literature about Cuban history. It was an extremely fancy hotel with all kind of foreigners and tourists. I made sure to check for the bus so I wouldn’t miss it.
6 am arrived and still no bus. To my surprise I wasn’t upset (I am usually uptight about punctuality while traveling) and continued to explore the beautiful Havana Vieja. The gas exhaust slapped me in the face as I watched the cars pass by. I watched a taxi driver pick up a couple for a classic car tour. Old Havana is the common scenery you see when you see documentaries and videos about Havana. It had a majestic and royal charm to it. I was engulfed into its uniqueness that I barely noticed as another hour flew by.
It was 10 am and still no bus! I was now getting anxious and upset. I was not alone as the line of Cubans became frustrated. One Afro-Cuban women commented on how slow Cuban transportation is. Another yelled how we were robbed because we purchased the earliest bus and watched as later buses left before we did. Even Andi was getting mad (he is was always calm and cool). I kept going to the corner to check if the bus was coming. Every time I saw a Transtur bus, it turned out to be for another destination. I was beyond frustrated at this point. We were sleepy and hungry as we patiently waited.
Finally, at 10:30 am, the bus arrived. People swarmed the bus like bees to a beehive. Before I could blink an eye, the bus was packed with impatient passengers scrambling to find whatever seats were available. Things became worst when the bus driver announced that the bus was full and couldn’t take all the passengers. My wife and I was so pissed off when we noticed that there was only one seat left between the both of us. This made Andi go into beast mode. Andi went off on the bus driver and explained how early in advanced we purchased the ticket (2 and half weeks to be exact). The bus driver escorted us and had another person give up their seat for us. I don’t know what Andi said but it worked and that is all I cared about.
It was almost 11 am and we were finally heading out. When you come to Cuba, don’t expect the buses to be on time. This lesson taught me that sometimes you have to go with the flow as there are just some things you have no control over. We were just beginning our long journey so I went to sleep after an eventful morning.
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