El Aleman Cubano
After sharing a very multicultural taxi with Jo (Hong Kong), Paddy (Germany) and Dimitri (Russia) for the two and a half hour trip from the bus station in Havana to Viñales, we all decided to walk to some nearby caves.
Unfortunately, we underestimated the distance required in the afternoon heat so we didn’t quite make our destination, but we did stop off and chat to a very humble tobacco farmer after approaching his tobacco drying house just outside the town. We also ended up having a beer at a restaurant near a cave after walking for about an hour, so it was still a successful venture!
On the walk back towards Viñales, a guy around our age driving a horse and cart loaded with grass came along the road. We jokingly stuck our thumbs out for a lift as he passed us and he obliged, pulling up his horse and motioning for us to get on! As all four of us started clambering to find a decent spot on the stack of hay, one of his mates appeared with another horse and cart, so we split up into a much more comfortable two on each cart…
We stopped to talk with some more of their friends as we neared the town as they were fairly amused by the sight of us in the carts! I didn’t really catch any of their names, apart from the one they called ‘El Aleman’ (The German) due to his fair skin and blonde hair!
The next night, after Paddy and Dimitri had returned to Havana, Jo and I went back to Patio Central Cultural Polo Montañez – a local bar with salsa bands on almost every night and $5 bottles of rum.
We had met Mint from Thailand over dinner and, as we were walking her back to her casa particular after the bar closed, we ran into a small group of local guys drinking on the street – one of whom was El Aleman!
We ended up hanging out with them for a few hours and when El Aleman and I were walking back from the gas station, where I had bought some beers in return for their rum, he said, “You’re not like other foreigners, Adam”.
I asked him what he meant, half-expecting – or perhaps hoping – to hear something philosophical in return. He responded with, “They all want to go to bed early so they can get up and go sightseeing for the whole day, but you just want to stay here drinking with us!”.
Probably not exactly what I had in mind, but I’ve definitely heard less profound things at three in the morning…