We have an exception today in our morning routine: We actually sleep in – after all, this is really necessary. When we finally make it out of our room, Anabel looks quite amused at us probably having a terrible hair day: “Coffee?”. Oh yeah ! We help setting up the table and have a relaxed breakfast then. Today we just want to relax. After having a shower, we set out to explore Varadero. The city looks very different from what I had expected: No “Ballermann atmosphere”, no over-crowded concrete hotel resorts. From the looks, this city here could have been located somewhere in the Mediterranean, if it wasn’t for all the oldtimers.
Originally this peninsula was inhabited by Indios and the invading Spaniards used it as a repair dock later (hence the name “Varadero”). You cannot see any remaining dock parts though – but instead lots of holiday villas of rich Cuban hacienda owners from the 19th century. Especially in the surrounding area to our Casa is, there seem to be quite some older buildings (Calle 40-50). As Jannis mentioned that there should be an old villa of Al Capone* somewhere to be found here. On the opposite side to the Parque Central is… a mall? Hmm – Wait a moment. The building which looks like a shopping center is actually the park named “8.000 Taquillas” (Taquilla = dressing room), where tourists can use changing rooms and lockers and buy some snacks. This structure was built in the 60ies to bring local people from all kinds of social status and foreign visitors together. Nowadays, tourism has become unpayable for most locals – for people not working in the tourist industry having holidays here is probably impossible. We stroll along the avenue primera (apart from street there is also a parallel one called Avenida Playa) towards the west end… The scuba dive center should be actually located next to the Beatles bar with the 4 life-sized statues of John, Paul, George, and… this other guy. The small blue hut with the numerous fish pictures does not have a “permanently closed” sign, but a note that the diving base has now moved to Calle 6. And we are in Calle 59 right now… Uff.
It doesn’t look that touristy here either… rather relaxed. We switch between the beach road and the Avenida primera and watch the builings, cars and people on the way. Somewhere near Calle 30 we spot a market place with quite a lot of souvenirs – not bad, can have a look tomorrow, maybe we’ll find something cool. Since there is a sailing trip bureau nearby, Frank decides to book a trip while I go scuba diving tomorrow. After a while, I make it to the diving center “Barracuda Diving Center”, where I sign up for tomorrow’s half-day trip – 2 wreck-dives for 80 CUC . Great. I take a cocotaxi back to the market place and have a chat with the driver in the meantime – a mechanical engineer. Jep, I can not imagine how this works out at all – my father has also been driving a taxi during his university years to earn some money… but to give up the profession you have studied so hard for? It seems to be the more lucrative solution, since a taxi driver is paid in CUC here in Cuba. If you do not come in contact with travelers here somehow, you do not seem to make any real money…