Santa Clara is the city of Che. It is here that the decisive battle of the revolution was fought. Batista sent a lot of reinforcements to this strategically important city which is less than 300km from Havana. Troops came in an armoured train which the rebels overcame by first cutting the tracks with a Caterpillar which now is an exhibit at the Tren Blindado outdoor museum.
The train itself houses captured arms and other items such as uniforms.
In another carriage photo's from the time are hung.
And in another information about the train and the battle.
Bullet-holes are visible on the outside of the carriages and they are tastefully laid out in a nice park.
The museum is definitely a must-see attraction of Santa Clara.
After stopping the train they threw Molotov cocktails on to it and forced the soldiers to surrender.
The next day we went to the Che Guevara mausoleum
where his remains and those of his compatriots who were murdered in Bolivia are held along with personal items, documents and picture. Unfortunately pictures are not permitted to be taken inside the mausoleum.
His chess set which he used to pass the time in the Sierra Maistra was amongst the exhibits as was at least one photo of Che playing chess.
On our third day in Santa Clara we went to the Loma del Capiro, another landmark and also of important historical significance to the revolution. Click on the link for the story. On the way we passed another statue of Che carrying a child
not to mention quite a few posters expressing Cuban patriotism.
I will risk translation again. If I get it wrong please don't hesitate to correct me.
"This country you cannot occupy...EVER!"
Achieving progress victoriously ?
The revolution, powerful and victorious moves forward? Yes, I know what a dictionary is, thanks :-)
After a half hour walk in 30+ degree heat and high humidity we reached our goal
and were rewarded by a very nice view of the city.
We did not feel like walking back so took some local transport back to the hotel, something like this.
Evenings were spent in a Bar next to the theatre on the main square. Every night a band, Los Gimez, played traditional Cuban music while we drank the local brew, Bucanero and watched the locals dancing. One of the guitarists was 84 years young and could not remove the smile from his face.
After four days we decided to move on but travel in Cuba presents its challenges. Train travel has to be booked the day before and buses from anywhere but Havana are even harder to book. We were told just to go to the station and wait and hope for the best. Having waited for buses before in Cuba we were not so keen on that. We spotted a Car rental agency and that was surprisingly easy. After a quick calculation we decided it would not be much more expensive but significantly easier. The challenges this option would present we would become aware of later. Stay tuned for those and other stories as now our road trip started.