Friday, November 20, 2015

Cuba - part 8 (second morning)


Our second and last full day began with a 10 AM meeting up time for the companions, and a 7 AM race for the runners. As it takes me nearly three hours to complete a half marathon, plus time to clean up, spending four hours doing companion stuff seemed like a fair trade. The original schedule called for a lot companion requirements, but as our later flights gave us less time in Cuba, our requirements were also shortened.

I woke up around 7:20, too late to see the start of the race, but in time to see the festive atmosphere. People were hanging around listening to music and waiting for the super fast people to come through in about an hour. The race was a double loop -- making it easy to have a half marathon course. There was also a 10K option. I don't know that course. The race started with 8k along the Malecon (the waterfront area) that always provides a nice tail wind. It then created a triangle by going way into Havana past Revolution Square (where Pope Francis celebrated mass in September) and the stadium and turning back towards the finish line. I didn't run, so I can't fill in all of the gaps of what they did.

Martha and I had a lovely breakfast on the terrace. This was yet another meal the runners did not have because the breakfast area did not open until the race started.

Having a couple of spare hours we walked through Central Havana. Up until this point we had been in Old Havana (the historic district). Just across the plaza from our hotel we entered a new world. One that was more run down and dirtier. Only a few blocks away from our dinner at Chef Ivan Justo, but a world apart.

In the USA this display would be considered retro or kitsch 

Disney is everywhere

Even more pedicabs

This store looked mighty empty

Very sad to see trees growing out of buildings.
One of Martha's other goals was to find some local currency. I took one look at this market and knew this was the place. We each exchanged 1 CUC for 25 pesos.

This was not Wegmans

We walked back up to (you guessed it) the Malecon to watch the runners at the 8K/29K mark (there are 43k in a marathon).

He wanted me to take his picture. The next one is of him blowing this kiss to me.

We ended up near a water stop. The race seemed to have plenty of these. The water was distributed in plastic bags and were fruit flavored.

A bit of a cool down option.

Lynn from our group.

Martha and I realized we were running out of time to catch up with our group before heading out for our journey to Muraleanda. Unlike some members of our group, we wanted to go. Not just to fulfill our legal visa requirements, because we were looking forward to going somewhere outside of Havana and seeing more of the country and meeting local artists to boot.

We hightailed, trying not to take a lot of pictures along the way. Um...sure.

A good sign as we knew how to get there from the hotel!
We ended up being about 10 minutes late, only to learn the bus broke down and we were waiting to figure out what to do next. That gave us a chance to freshen up. Next time I hope to pack extra clothes for freshening up. When you visit a warm climate, you easily sweat through your clothes. Fortunately (for the runners, not for the photographers) it was overcast that day or else it really would have been steamy.

The tour group had a surprise for us.

All pictures can be found HERE


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