The worst thing about crazy nights out are the next morning “happy to just be dead feelings”. My Santa Clara stupor had brought with it one of the most sickening headaches, a dry, parched throat and a heavy tongue which had felt like a lazy crocodile. Sundays had been god’s days in Santa Clara and excited voices and pealing church bells had unsettled my orbiting head. Never before had I felt worse and as I had tried to calm my spinning eyeballs from shooting stars, I had realized that my bus for Trinidad had already departed. It had been a disappointment and an expensive miss, since Viazul bus tickets had not come cheap. I had been too dead to even kick myself over it and had tried to remain motionless as long as possible to settle my hangover.
Sharp pain from my scratched arms and legs had presented me with yet another travel emergency and I had wondered if the nasty orange guard cat had been vaccinated. Those chances had seemed positively obscure and for once I had been glad that it had been Santa Clara (medical university hub) where I required medical attention in Cuba. So I had staggered out of my bed, limped around wincing in pain to get ready and for the first time in my life, had really evil thoughts of hurting a cat. Perhaps because of the irresistible wicked fun of Santa Clara’s street parties my hosts had seemed absolutely prepared for me to join them for breakfast and for a fleeting moment I had wondered if they too had been there to witness my debauchery. While I wouldn’t have minded to find them dancing there but to completely expect me (just like others before me) to miss out on my Sunday plans had not felt very pleasant.
Post breakfast, my host had piled me on a horse cart taxi and sent me off to the local hospital with a hand written note mentioning my need. The hospital had stood right next to a church where huge sweating bodies had swayed ecstatically to gargantuan black ladies singing hymns in deep sonorous voices. Their rich notes had been very soothing and I had looked at the scrubbed clean sober church goers in awe. Children and toddlers had been decked up in their Sunday best and their stylish parents had linked arms happily. It had been a completely different scenario for previous evening’s party scene and even the square had been carefully cleaned off all the festive mess. The familiar sublime aura had again pervaded over the square and the goat cart had trundled merrily with its load of squealing children. Book shops, street painters, homemade handicraft and food vendors had set up makeshift stores on rickety wooden tables and garden umbrellas had bloomed in rows of vivacious shades. The cathedral bell had tolled sweetly and for a fleeting moment, I had wondered if the crazy night had been figment of my imagination.
The terrible splitting hangover headache however had been for real and I had looked away as the Cuban doctor had jabbed injections into my bloodstream. Like most travelers, I am paranoid of being ill in a foreign country and to distract myself, I had pondered on Santa Clara’s strangeness while undergoing the doctor’s treatment. Just like its spirit, Santa Clara’s birth too had been pretty volatile. Founded on 15th July, 1689, Santa Clara had been formed by families, fleeing from pirate attacks at the coastal city of Remedios and 2 large already existing clans of the region. The 2 groups had met on a hill under a tamarind tree, where a mass had been held, thus giving birth to the lovely Santa Clara. The landlocked town had slowly grown in importance, eventually surpassing Remedios and its most beloved citizens had been 2 revolutionaries.
Che Guevara and Marta Abreu de Estevez had been Santa Clara’a poster children and the town had been the site of the most decisive battle of the Cuban Revolution. It had been there that Che and his men had ripped out the railroad carrying Batista’s military supplies, thus completely nailing the coffin of his rule and the kind, cultured Marta had showered her generosity upon the little town. The wealthy city patron and her husband had built numerous schools, fire station, train station, electricity plant, asylum etc and the exquisite La Caridad Theater had been her contribution. Marta’s kindness had touched every part of Santa Clara and while she had lain buried in Havana, Che had rested in peace at the town’s famous Che Guevara mausoleum.
With so much fire, charm and delightful provincial prettiness, Santa Clara had been hard to leave, but I had been gearing to explore my next Cuban stop i.e the stunning open air museum city of Trinidad, the colonial jewel of Cuba.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE