Che, the most iconic (and handsome!) revolutionary ever. Who has not seen THAT image, reproduced all over the world?
All around Cuba there are images of him, but Santa Clara is the epicenter of Guevara-dom, with a great monument built to him and the revolution. The City itself is not recommended for staying, so we head off to the recommended Remedios, 47k to the north, and closer to the Cayo Santa Maria which is rapidly becoming the new Varadero, with a strong resemblance to the Gold Coast in Queensland. Large resorts, sandy beaches, lots of cocktails and sun lounges.
Remedios itself is tiny, and blessedly quiet. There’s only one tour bus in sight, and most of the people wandering around when we arrive are locals.
We gallop off to see if we can find a room for the night, a bit like the desperate Joseph, but the first place I enquire at is FULL!! Now there’s a surprise.
We take a turn around the square, stopping hopefully at one of the casa particulares; La Paloma. At first senora is sorry, no possibility, but when she sees our obvious disappointment, she beckons us to stop in for a minute. Hey presto – two rooms are available for one night!!!! yee haa – and this one is one of the top recommendations in our guide book. Things are on the up and up!!
Gracefully decorated with porcelain tile-work, antiques and high ceilings, it’s an oasis in the heat. The rooms are spacious and air conditioned, and the bathrooms palatial in comparison with our previous lodgings. Hit the jackpot this time! And there’s a very sweet cat for me to play with.
We take dinner at the casa – highly recommended. The lamb we order is falling off the bone and mouth-wateringly delicious, the black bean soup the best we’ve had so far.
Our hostess is in a back brace, an interesting corset concocted of leather, plastic and bandage; she injured her back three months ago, and has to wear this for another three months. We ask her if she knows of Frida Kahlo. She doesn’t, which surprises me, strangely enough. In my naivety I would think an artist whose fame extends to Australia, was a communist and harboured Trotsky would be well known in Cuba. S shows her some photos of Frida’s corsets from Mexico City, and we explain her afflictions in Spanish and sign language.
Eager to procure lodgings for the next night, we solicit her help, and she takes us to another house around the corner on the plaza. That room is not entrancing for any of us, so we say no thanks and move on. She finds another delightful neighbour with a house in the street behind, but we cannot see the rooms and are not sure if they are as good as the ones we have at present. La Paloma can only put us up in one room for the next night, so W is dispatched off to the hotel to enquire again if we can find a room there. It appears that the reason they couldn’t give us a room is because one of their properties was suffering from plumbing issues, and they were minus several rooms.
However, by the next morning we might get lucky, and we do. W went off after breakfast and returned to say he had one room for the two of us for two nights, and S had a room booked for the following night as well. MUCH more expensive than the casa, but still modest for a boutique hotel.