Every place we've stayed at, we could see the stars in the sky better.
Havana was a city. Maybe not as bright as Chicago, but there's enough light to stop a lot of stars from being visible. The first night, I was too interested in the fact that I was standing outside, dressed for summer, and could look up at the night sky to see Orion. I didn't care that I couldn't see much else. (It will soon become pretty obvious, but Orion is pretty much the only constellation I recognize.)
It was raining at Playa Giron.
I'm sure that Santa Clara would have had gorgeous night skies. We were staying a bit out from the city, but even in the downtown areas street lights had a tendency to go out as you were walking under them. (I wasn't too fond of that aspect of Santa Clara.) Unfortunately, it was still pretty cloudy.
Trinidad offered a pretty good view of the stars. Trinidad can't even begin to compare to Havana in terms of light pollution, and we were a kilometer away.
None of them were as good as the hotel near Cienfuegos. We were 20 to 40 minutes away from a city, and it was a clear night. Besides, the area by the pool wasn't that well lit. (I don't think that was the best idea ever, but it did make for some awesome stargazing.) I'd had no idea that there were so many stars in Orion. I lay down in one of the pool chairs and just stared up for a while.
It helped that we were only there for one night. Much longer, and that gorgeous view would have been a cause for panic. (“Where's my city? Where's my light pollution? Where are all of the people who should make it hard to see the stars?”)
In a similar vein...
The ride from our hotel to Havana was supposed to take 2-3 hours. I was preparing myself for 6. So before we left, I wanted to do a fair amount of walking around. There was a “hike” that we could take to a cave. The sign said “1000 Meters. 1.5 minutes.” I didn't trust either the sign or the people who said “yeah, it totally takes a minute and a half,” but when some people said “It's about a 10 minute walk, and it's a neat cave,” I decided I would go.
So I climbed up a fair number of twisting step and looked around. I could either take the paved steps down or the path through the forest. I took the steps down. It brought me to a cave. I took a few pictures, turned around and took a few pictures of the water, then climbed back up the steps. Then I started walking through the forest. I walked a while without seeing anything interesting, though I did irritate a bug that kept buzzing by my ear to express it. Then I turned around to walk back. The bug followed me until halfway down the main stairs I'd taken to get up. I'm pretty sure the forest was the path less traveled by, but it so wasn't worth it.
I walked around the pool for a bit and talked with Trent. He was disappointed I hadn't gone through the cave, because that had been cool. Then we ran into Wyatt, who wanted to see it since it wasn't too far. I still had excess energy to burn before our bus ride, so I went with him. (He was also curious about the forest, though he stopped exploring before I did.)
This time we went through the cave. The very beginning was the worst part, where the rocks had a variety of sizes, and it was hard to tell how stable they were. And you looked ahead and saw that you were going into a cave, and it was dark, and you started questioning your sanity. But by the time the light from the opening was gone, you were on solid ground and could see the light from the exit.
We took a number of pictures there, then started picking our way back through the cave. (It wasn't that big, but I was wearing a skirt and sandals. I had assumed I would be walking around a hotel, not a cave, when I'd left my room that morning.) We wandered around for a little more, killed some time, and then brought our suitcases down to the check-in area. (The night before they had led us up and down a number of stairs with our luggage. This morning we decided to follow the road instead. We never saw a car on it, and it was a much smoother walk.)
It was a nice excursion, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Havana. (I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Chicago. Then again, I've been away long enough I forgot what winter really is. Cubans shiver in their jackets and mid-60 degree temperatures and go “it's so cold!” and I'm almost starting to believe them.)