We have a stressful morning in Santa Clara. Our 11:00 am bus pickup at the Santa Clara Libre Hotel wasn’t happening at 11:00, or 11:10 or 11:15. Murray takes the phone numbers we have for the Avalon and trots back to the hostal we stayed in to ask Omelio to phone for him. I man the luggage outside the hotel and watch for a bus. Unfortunately, it seems we are the only folks waiting for the bus to the boat.
At 11:30, a yellow taxi drives up, the driver gets out and walks right up to me. He says something in Spanish, which I have no idea what and automatically say No. He walks over to the fellow manning the hotel front door and is talking to him and they are pointing at me, so I get up and go to them. Bus. Avalon. Garden of the Queen all get communicated. The taxi driver realizes we aren’t able to communicate well, so gets on his phone and calls someone and hands the phone to me. The lady on the other end asks if we are Murray and Debbie (only in a Spanish pronunciation) and we confirm that yes, it is us and yes the taxi will take us to the Avalon boat and yes we do not have to pay anything. Fortunately, as we are walking towards the bags, Murray walks up from his expedition, we load the car and off we go. So, not a bus but a car ride! And what a ride!
The main highway, the National Road, has three lanes, one for each direction and the middle lane for passing in either direction. Sometimes there are white lines on the road, most times not. The patching of the road is horrendous and our driver doesn’t want to drive over the mounds, so sometimes he is in the right lane, sometimes in the middle one and sometimes in the oncoming traffic lane. No worries though as the traffic is very light. It is like rally car driving with on coming traffic!
The roads get narrower closer to our destination and the passing gets trickier. A close call or three keeps us from nodding off. The traffic on the roads includes cars, trucks, tour buses, motorcycles, bicycles and horse drawn wagons. There are almost as many horse powered vehicles as cars out there.
In between watching crazy car maneuvers, I stare out the window at the cultivated fields. Sugar cane, corn, onions and many crops I am not familiar with. Many houses along the road have strings of onions and other vegetables for sale at their gates. It is definitely a farming environment.
We arrive at the boat dock and say goodbye to our crazy driver and thank him for delivering us safely!