The moment I thought would never arrive, was finally here. The never ending bus ride came to an end and I was beyond happy to finally stretch my feet as I breathed in the fresh air. We arrived at Hotel Melia, the final stop on the route. It was late at night so there was no scenery just pitch black. The bus driver was nice enough to take us to our place at Hostal Heredia. We were all drained from the long bus ride but still excited to be in a part of Cuba that most people never get to see. It was late so we stay indoors. I was so excited to explore in the morning that I forced myself to go to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up to the charming city of Santiago de Cuba. I was up before anyone else so I quietly went out to explore. It was a very spiritual place and I felt the calming energy of the locals. One older woman asked me to help her get across the street. It was such a friendly and welcoming community. I felt a totally different vibe here than that of Havana. Although, people were busy and cars were all over, I felt less stressed than I was in Havana. The architecture was reminiscent of colonial times. There were also so many hills that I worked out a bit but I was so immersed into the scenery that I didn’t notice it at the time.
There were people selling fruits and others just conversing. One of the memorable things that I noticed here was that a lot of Cubans rode moped looking bikes. What was even more surprising was that these bikes were actually taxis. All I kept thinking about was how dangerous it was and how I would never get on one. However, these bike drivers were daredevils and not once did I see anyone get injured. I also noticed that there were signs for drivers prohibiting them from honking their horns. Of course they still honked their horns as they turned corners like NASCAR drivers.
There were so many buildings that I felt a little disoriented as I went up and down the hills. I booked a place on Calle Heredia not knowing that this was the heart of Santiago de Cuba. There were so many things to see as I blended with the Cuban locals. There was the Church of Nuestra Senora de Los Dolores, Dolores Plaza, Marte Plaza, and Enramadas Street. There were festivals at Marte Plaza with people selling all kind of items at a very inexpensive price that the average Cuban could afford. Many people were enjoying themselves at the Dolores Plaza. On Enramadas street, there were restaurants, bars, clubs, and many stores to choose from. I was so excited that I filled my bag up with goodies to surprise the family.
After toughing it out with the blazing sun, I headed back to the hostel to freshen up and to get the family ready. As I thought about my presentation that was just a few days away, I noticed the corner where the hostel was located was named after the same poet that I was presenting, Placido. I wonder if I would leave a footprint like that of Placido and other amazing poets and historical figures. My introduction to this spiritual place was beyond amazing. It was as if the Universe put my family and me in the heart of Santiago de Cuba for a specific purpose.
Thank you for reading. Much love and safe travels!
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