Saturday 8 December 2012
Highlights: Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial, Ice cream at Santa Clara Square, Night club farewell
A leisurely start today as I slept in an enjoyed a lovely breakfast before a late checkout at 10 am. The good news was my right hand was starting to feel better, the bad news was I had heaps of bites on my legs 😦
Today we returned to Havana to conclude our tour but first up was a visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial just outside Santa Clara. This location was strategically important to the revolution as there victory spearheaded by Che split the island and lead to President Batista fleeing Cuba.
The remains of Che were discovered 30 years after he was killed in Bolivia. He is treated like a great hero in Cuba despite being born in Argentina to a wealthy family. Che was recruited by Castro while he was in exile Mexico. Che was a doctor but he quickly become a leading figure in the revolution. For a long time after the revolution he was an official in the new government including being the representative at the UN. After a while he thought it was time to spread the revolution to other Latin American countries dominated by imperial forces ie the USA.
Che resignation letter made it clear he was acting by himself when he left not as a member of the Cuban Government. The CIA backed Bolivian Soldiers executed Che Guevara on 9 October 1967.
The mausoleum was completed in 1988 and his body buried here in 1997 with full honours. The soldiers killed with him in Bolivia are also interned here. While here a large number of cadets in full gear visited as well. There were a lot of tourist from Latin American countries.
At Santa Clara we did a short walk around the centre square. We visited goats instead of horses pulling carts in the city centre! Dady shouted as all local ice cream, very nice. After a roadside stop and a few hours drive we were back in Havana and our hotel.
For our final dinner we ate at an outdoor restaurant at the hotel, stories of our highlights and what we enjoyed most dominated intermixed with world politics, Cuba’s future and differences in laws and cultures. All made easier with cocktails and beer.
We also visited an outdoor nightclub enjoying beers and great company. It was with sadness I said goodbye to my fellow travellers after midnight and returned to my hotel in a classic car with Maggie.