“If you want, you can sleep in my house”, I was told by the only passenger left on the bus. The 25-30 years old man seemed trustworthy, especially when he put it this way: “For 10 dollars you will have your room, breakfast, and dinner cooked by my mom. What do you say?”

After a long ride with all that music/dancing shows aboard the truck, we got to the end of the line. Once again, it was not my final destination, so I had to change transportation. This time, I was told by a camino companero  (journey companion), that I should take a shared taxi to the next village where I could find a bus for my last part of the trip. Said and done, I jumped in a taxi, but only after I negotiated, in Spanish of course, the ride’s price for a few pesos. In the back seats, there were 3 women and one man. I took the front seat.

The guy with the lift. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj
The guy with the lift. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj

After arriving in the village, I consulted myself with a few locals about the transportation matter. I was told that the bus comes every two or three hours, but the departure time remains a mystery. I was wisely advised to wait, not in the bus station, but in the real station in the village, near the road – the local bar.
Another Cubano bodega, another companeros, but the same vibrant music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Kolu09A5U

Inside the bar, there was nobody, except for an old bartender and three costumers that seemed to have the day off. Respectful, I saluted them and started a small conversation. Watching these guys, I felt like I was 22 years old again and was having an important job interview.

My first thought was a bottle of rum and four glasses, with ice, cherishing the memory of myself, Fidel Castro and Maria la Gorda. Then I asked the bartender to serve the gentlemen.
“This one is for you, amigos!”
“Oh, muchas gracias, gringo!”
“Welcome. But I am not a gringo!”
“Neither are we!” said one of the guys and all of us started to laugh out loud.

Locals surprised to see a gringo in their village. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj
Locals surprised to see a gringo in their village. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj

By the time we finished the first bottle, the bar initially empty became lively, and I was relieved to see that my new friends were watching out for my bus to arrive. As I wasn’t sure about them considering that they sleepy rather than sober, I asked my bartender to help me with this matter. “No te preocupe, amigo”.

One of the girls coming from school made a pit-stop at the bar. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj
One of the girls coming from school made a pit-stop at the bar. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj

Just before dawn, my bus was finally there. The bartender yelled at me pointing at where the bus had just stopped. I jumped off my chair and ran towards the bus, while waving at my drinking companions. I was finally on my way to the La Bajada, a village on the seaside, just a bicycle ride away from Maria la Gorda.
I had previously read somewhere that the small village had a casa particular, where I thought I would spend the night. But apparently, that place was not there anymore, or at least that was what my driver thought.
“Amigo, there are only 20-30 houses in the whole village and no casa particular, believe me. There is a military zone as well and, normally, the soldiers don’t allow non-residents to pass by that area”.
My face went probably green after hearing that. It was the end of one of the longest days of my life. It was already dark outside and there was no other way to stop in between or to return. Soon after, the noisy bus stopped. We had finally arrived in La Bajada.

“If you want, you can sleep in my house”, I was told by the only passenger left on the bus. The 25-30 years old man seemed trustworthy, especially when he put it this way: “For 10 dollars you will have your room, breakfast, and dinner cooked by my mom. What do you say?”
“Well, first just let me see if there is no casa particular around and I shall return in a few minutes to let you know about my decision”.
“Bien, but just don’t get further that way, the military camp is there”.
I made a few steps around. There were a few houses, but I couldn’t distinguish much, as there was no electric light on the alley that separated the shore from the village houses. I could hear the ocean waves but I was not able to see it. Everything was surrounded by complete darkness and suspicious silence.
After 30 seconds I went back on the guy’s offer.
“So what did you say we were having for dinner?”

My new friends from La Bajada. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj
My new friends from La Bajada. Photo by Ovidiu Balaj

…to be continued with more about how Maria la Gorda looks like

 

…and in case you missed the first part of this story you have it here:

http://garlictrail.com/hitchhiking-and-searching-for-maria/

Showing 2 comments
  • double d
    Reply

    30seconds….:) i bet it was more like 5…

    • Ovidiu Balaj
      Reply

      why is that? 🙂

Leave a Comment