We reach Versailles,Matanzas around an hour and a half later and get settled into our accommodation. Not much of a nightlife in Versailles and most stores close by 7. A bit of a walk from where we were staying found us a Rapido outlet (the government owned fast food chain) open till 4am I think and a pizza stall.
During the trip we managed to visit Las Cuevas de Bellamar ( Bellamar caves) purportedly Cuba's oldest tourist attraction. These underground caves cost us(students with a Cuban ID) 5 pesos (0.20$) to enter though I think tourists get charged 5 $ to enter. It was gorgeous! Couldn't help but marvel at the wonders of nature... The limestone caves were damp and cool so make sure to wear sneakers or flats to avoid slipping!
Having read about a river recreation center along the Canimar River from our landlord back in Havana, we decided to take a ride to the Parque Turístico Río Canímar.
Upon reaching the entrance we saw a river cruise boat about to leave the departure point (punto nautico) and we scrambled over to to captain to see if we could board. Apparently it costs 15$ per person to make the 12km trip upstream to where all the other attractions were.(According to the captain the tourists were paying 35$per person with lunch included so he couldn't charge us less than 15 to be on the boat. ) Fahkkk..That wasn't planned for. If we spent that much just getting to the other end we wouldn't have anything left for once we got there. The only things on this end were a restaurant and the departure point for the cruise boat, motorboats and what not. The other end had the horse ranch, museum, restaurantS, and a few other things. The guard at the entrance had taken a liking to us for some reason and saw that we were about to leave so soon and he said kept suggesting different activities we could carry out at this end and finally suggested something we liked.
Pedal boating anyone?
Albeit the fact that we didn't look that glamorous, it was TONS of fun. Highly recommend it! 10$ per hour. Obviously we never made it to the other end 12 km away but equipped with our life jackets and the promise that the river was safe by the security guard(lol) we set off and covered I think at least 2km -) Isolated for the most part, we stopped at a little cove along the way, parked the boat, stripped down to our inners and dove in. The river was clear and shallow by the bank and pretty deep in the center. These bursts of spontaneity are what memories are made of!
Gory detail; apparently that bridge is one of the infamous spots for suicide jumps in Matanzas.
Managed to squeeze in a trip to the oh-so-famous Varadero beach the day before we were to leave Matanzas. Took a bus there (of course) from Viaducto. Buses charge 5 - 10 pesos(0.50$) to make the 40 min journey to calle 54 (right in front of a Rapido outlet adjacent to the beach) while a cab driver wanted to charge us 2$ each for the same trip. According to friends, if you walk up to calle 44 the stretch of beach there offers beach chair and umbrella rentals for 2$ per hour.
All in all the trip was a huge success although the seniors were super busy with pediatrics finals coming up, they told us how to get to where ever we wanted to go and stuff to look out for. If you stick to public transport expenses would mainly come from spending money on food and accommodation.
Sporting a nais tan I start classes tomorrow (the 6th). Back to all nighters and lifeless weekends. Cheers to that!
Hope you guys had a great New Year's celebration! <3