Once we arrived in Varadero we were not too tempted to stay 4 days at the beach. We wanted to see as much of Cuba as we possibly could.
So we went to a rental office to rent a car and make a road trip, although the roads in Cuba are very challenging.
It was hard to find the guy from rental office since he was never in the office, but when at last was there, he quickly shattered our dream.
– We don’t have an available car.
– Okay. Because we want it for tomorrow. Can we make a reservation?
– That is not possible. But you can come tomorrow and ask again.
– Well? Don’t you know when you’ll have an available car?
Calmly, he just raised his shoulder.
Ok. There are many rental centers. We’ll find the car. How hard can it be?!
Very hard! We weren’t able to rent a car. Instead, we bought a tour to three cities Santa Clara – Trinidad – Cienfuegos. An intense 650 km circuit in authentic Cuba.
We left early in the morning by coach, and somewhere around lunch, we arrived in Santa Clara.
Santa Clara is the city where the decisive battle took place and Che’s rebels have captured an armed resistance train full of ammunition and 300 soldiers. This capture led to the abdication of Batista which fled the country.
The city is all about Che.
His portrait appears everywhere in Cuba, on flags, shirts, coins. He is a true national hero. After the victory of the revolution, Che was Minister of Finance and Chairman of the National Bank of Cuba. During this time he visited many communist countries (like Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, North Korea) to develop trade connections. But this kind of life did not suit him.
In 1965 Guevara goes to Congo to fight along the revolutionaries, against the dictator. But this revolution was crushed. Later he said he can’t liberate a country by itself and that he doesn’t want to fight any longer.
The following year he arrives in Bolivia, where he forms a guerrilla army of 50 people to fight against the regime. Che noted in his diary that the peasants did not help and they were turned into spies.
One of the peasants gave up the exact position of Che Ghevara, so 1,800 soldiers together with the help of the CIA, surrounded the camp of the revolutionaries. He was wounded and taken prisoner.
He was interrogated and refused to talk. Fearing that Che will escape, Bolivian president ordered his immediate execution, without taking into account the Americans who wanted him.
Authorities have ordered to not shoot him in the head but to kill him in a manner that would have suggested the shooting during a struggle. He was shot 9 times in the legs, shoulder, chest and neck. His hands were cut off and sent to Buenos Aires for identification and then to Fidel Castro.
After a long time, the place where Che was buried has been found. This was possible with the help of a retired Bolivian General. His body was discovered in a mass grave along with other six unknown bodies.
Later that year, his remains were deposited in the mausoleum in Santa Clara alongside his revolutionaries.
When you visit the mausoleum, you feel like you’re making a pilgrimage. There are people who warn you not to talk, wear decent clothes, and photographing is not allowed.
2 things you have to do in Santa Clara
- Visit the Che Guevara Memorial
- Visit the Memorial revolutionaries derailed train