The Rum Museum, and last days in Havana

After Trinidad, we took a short stop in Santa Clara to see the Che Guevera Memorial, and then headed back to Havana, where CeeCee and I had an extra day to hang out before flying home.

We went to a local beach nearby, which was nice, though not as nice as some of the other beaches we had been at. It was nice to have one final beach day, and a last swim in the incredibly warm ocean, although sadly we ran out of sunscreen and got a little burnt!

On our last day, we went for a tour of the Rum Museum, to learn all about how rum is made (they juice the sugar cane, and boil it up in huge bowls. The sugar crystallises and is extracted, and the remaining sludgey residue is the molasses that they use to make rum).

The museum itself is in a beautiful colonial building.

Interesting fact – the lady on the Havana club rum logo is the lady shown here – a replica of a statue on top of the fort, which is the wife of a previous ruler, who left to invade somewhere, and she waited at the top of the hill each day, looking for his ship (she also became the defacto ruler, and is still Cuba’s only female ruler so far). You’ll find her gracing the Havana Club rum bottles.

Old sugar cane press

Huge pans for boiling up sugar cane juice.

Loving that they felt it was necessary to show a bit of gratuitous nipple in this painting depicting the boiling process.

They have an INCREDIBLE scale model replica of a sugar cane processing plant. The level of detail is INSANE.

Rum is aged in barrels that have previously held whiskey and bourbon, and the colour comes from how long it stays in the barrels – eg white rum is aged up to about 3 years, and darker rum is 5+ years old.

Explaining the grades of rums

And a little tasting at the end

And a few cocktail recipes for you….

On our way back we passed a poor exhausted bird (my friend thinks it’s a common buzzard). It was clearly injured, or knackered, as it was just sitting in the road, surrounded by tourists taking pictures, and it didn’t have the energy to move at all. At one point a very idiotic tourist tried to reach out and stroke it, and I was forced to yell at them, as this poor bird was completely freaked out and terrified.

So then CeeCee and I said our sad goodbyes and flew in opposite directions home. I flew overnight from Havana to Madrid, a flight in which I didn’t sleep a lot, got to Madrid knackered, and had a 4 hour stopover, but was scared to take a nap in case I missed my connection so I forced myself to stay awake, wandering around in a daze, knowing I could fall asleep the SECOND I got onto the plane.

When we were finally boarding, I get to the front of the line, and there’s a problem with my boarding card. Guy says they need to change my seat. It’s only Madrid-London so I’m not too fussed where I sit, but then it takes ages, and he walked off with my passport, then wandered back and asked to see my passport, then asked to see my original boarding card, which he’s left on the other desk. He starts muttering something about the flight being overbooked and I get worried, thinking I might have been bumped, or maybe didn’t get checked through properly from Cuba. I’m soooo tired I can barely think straight, and get sent to another desk, about to get quite tired and cross and just want to get on the plane at this point.

Then the woman says “Oh I see! It’s because you’re booked into business class” and I’m all “No trust me I’m definitely not” and she says “the flight was overbooked, and as you’re a frequent flyer they’ve bumped you up” – I look at her in tired confusion and go “are you sure about that?” And she’s all smiley and says “oh yes ma’am”.

Then when I get on the plane the stewardess says welcome and I look at her in shock and say I think it’s a mistake, I’ve never flown business before, and she says “well then this will blow your mind cos you’re actually in first class, as there’s no business section on this plane.”
In other words this happened. It was cray-cray.

I can also tell you that after staying awake long enough for takeoff, I was able to lay my seat down flat and take a proper nap – only half an hour, but completely worth it. They also made me an EXCELLENT cup of tea when I woke up and rustled me up a toothbrush so I felt almost human on landing!

Finally I made it home with my souvenirs! Turns out I have developed a taste for high quality rum, and I suspect it may be a gateway into starting to like whiskey – we’ll see…

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