A Cuban ferry experience

After lunch in Restaurante La Mina, we decided to have dessert in the Museo del Chocolate – this is actually a café masquerading as a chocolate shop with everything made on the premises. There are also many interesting display cases of chocolate-related items from around the world to look at whilst you indulge. We ordered two cups of delicious hot chocolate and a packet of 12 little chocolates and chocolate liqueur with…….rum.
CUC$3.50 for 2 hot chocs and 12 delicious chocs n rum choc
Next we thought we’d go for a wander….and saw a lady having a pedicure in a small park, as you do…..image


and a gym with dodgy electrics and basic equipment (through the ‘grill-window’ in what looked to be a run-down building:


I’ve always liked taking to the water to get to other interesting places so, to explore a different part of Havana, we’d read about a cheap ferry across the bay to Regla. So we wandered down to the port area and tried to find the correct ferry terminal to Regla. There was nothing particularly resembling a ferry terminal but we eventually saw a small building jutting out into the rundown harbour at the San Pedro-Santa Clara intersection.There was simply a small office and a jetty so we walked past the checkpoint where they looked in our bags, then paid 25 centavos (MN) which is actually less than 1p! The crossing was short, lasting some 15 minutes, and it was simply a large, metal boat with a rope across the large openings so we held on tight!

When we arrived, we followed the rest of the passengers and found ourselves in the centre of Regla, a small town with a Main Street with ‘shops’ and bars.
We set ourselves the challenge of buying some water from a shop rather then a bar. We went in to a couple of shops but they had an eclectic mix of goods but no water. imageThey reminded us of the old-fashioned, dimly lit hardware stores In rural towns but with little stock and bare walls. We finally asked a shopkeeper who said to turn right then right again……which we did-  and ended up in a shop that you don’t actually go into! It was surrounded by a high fence and the building had two secure counters on the outside.  We could see inside and there was definitely water and a lot of other goods such as toiletries, kitchen goods and bottles of various drinks.
We waited at one counter till the assistant spotted us and we asked for water. She said we had to go to the other counter for water! We bought a litre bottle of water for 19MN.image
We wandered back to a shady square we’d walked past earlier and sat down on an old bench.
We watched a couple of boys practise baseball with a glove and an old ball that was  falling apart. One boy was in uniform, the other simply wearing shorts and t shirt. When they missed, we threw the ball back.
Then a group of schoolchildren came into the square and it seemed as though they were on their break. We walked around the square, passing the group and as we smiled at them, we got chatting. (As you do in Cuba, a smile is all it takes). The children were keen to practise their English and I listened to them proudly stating their names and ages.
imageThey were mostly about 9 years old. Bill took a couple of photos and I was just getting the address to send it to when a teacher arrived and told them off for talking to foreigners. I told her I was helping them with their English but she was adamant that they leave the square and go back to school. I saw the boy in the square who obviously wasn’t with the schoolchildren so I asked him the name of the school and asked him to let the children know if possible that I’d send a photo to the school.
We got the ferry back and walked back up through Vieja Habana to have a beer in the Factoría de la Cerveza in Plaza Vieja. It is a microbrewery serving a variety of Cuban beers and food. They also serve beer in large columns with taps which looked fun for a group!image
Tip: when paying, either give a large note which means you obviously want your change or just enough to pay for your bill and a tip- if the waiter decides he’d like what you’ve left as his tip, it might take a while for your change to be returned to you. We had to wait absolutely ages for our change, despite the fact that the bar proudly boasts on its menu that they don’t automatically add 10% for service….Cuban logic, maybe?!
 By now it was getting towards sunset so we thought we’d just have time for a little window-shopping,  then…. cocktail-time!

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