Jorge Milanes Despaigne
I went to make a reservation at my neighborhood office of Campismo Popular (public camping). However, all they had available was an excursion to some place called San Pedro.
Still, I ventured to buy the tickets so that a group of friends and I could head out into nature that coming Saturday.
The only thing I knew about San Pedro was its location, in Pinar del Rio Province. However, the young woman who sold me the reservation had misinformed me, because for more than one month — according to the island’s new political-administrative map — San Pedro now belongs to Artemisa Province.
Early that Saturday morning at John Lennon Park, in the Vedado neighborhood, the bus showed up with a sign clearly indicating its destination.
But what struck me as odd was that neither the driver nor the guide had ever been there. In any case, the bus left Havana taking a highway on the north shore, which allowed me to discover never-before-seen landscapes along the journey from my city to the greenest province in the Cuban Archipelago.
We continued driving along that highway the whole morning. Someone told me that it seemed to him that San Pedro was close, nevertheless the driver asked a couple of villagers, an approach he seemed to trust. We continued flying down that road until we left the municipality of Bahia Honda behind and proceeded to travel 20 more kilometers.
The sun became lost among the low gray clouds and soon it began to rain. The driver got out of the bus and ran over to a store where some other locals had gathered talking. His aim was to ask them for directions, because he was almost sure that he had gotten lost.
To be sure, we had passed the highway that leads to San Pedro beach about an hour earlier. That meant we had to go back the way we had come. We turned around, continued on and were exhausted by the time we got to the campismo site (which I’ll refrain from making any comments about, at least for right now).
There is one tidbit of advice that occupies my thoughts: Never travel with a driver and a guide who don’t know where they’re going. Such a combination has the potential to transform the circumstances into a hapless experience.