“The early bird catches the worm”. We aren’t early birds today. Yet, we still get a rich breakfast anyways. After having a bit small talk with Jesús, he tells us that you could also scuba dive at Playa Ancon. Sounds great! We take our masks and fins with us since we we’ll certainly also snorkel. The weather seems to play along with our plans today – no clouds to be seen. We walk down the cobbled streets – here in the center we will probably not find any taxi. On our way we discover a small tourist office offering tours to the nearby national park “Topes de Collantes”. Alright, we could stay here for another day. We enter the office, get some info and decide for a tour tomorrow.
A few streets further we find us a taxi to Playa Ancon. The distance shouldn’t be that short, but we seem to have found a “taxi collectivo” (or “máquina”)* since the driver is already leaning out the window and calls out an “À la playa!” in my direction. Okay. This is now our first ride with such a taxi, so we are a little confused, but it’ll work out somehow. “Si, si, si eso it perfecto!”. We get in and he steps on the gas. In my rather terrible Spanish I ask about the taxi collectivos – I thought only locals could have a ride with them. “Nonsense”, he says, “whoever wants to, hails the cab and asks where it is going to. Simple” . Also: Every taxi collectivo can be a regular taxi. If you want to go to a specific place, the taxi driver will get you there – it will just get more.** So we had some damn luck here. Out of the city, barely on the straight road to the beach, some Cuban couple also enters the taxi. It gets a little cozy, but the conversation gets fired up now – Cubans are proud of their country, and they also want to tell foreigners which is great, as you get quite a lot of tips for things to do on your ongoing trip. I am now sure that we can now also make it to Santa Clara via Viazul bus and I have to definitely scuba dive in Varadero. Castro was an extremely enthusiastic scuba diver. There are dozens of intentionally sunk ships there.