The third city during my visit to Cuba was Santiago de Cuba. In my opinion, Santiago IS Cuba. Santiago has a strong Afro-Cuban spirit and salsa is in the air everywhere. At any moment, I just wanted to stop and start dancing. I would have had more pictures of salsa dancing, but I was a willing participant and it was difficult to take pictures while twirling.
In Santiago I learned the protocol for standing in line, during my attempt to get a prepaid wifi card. One just walks up and asks “Ultimo”. The last person in line raises their hand. People leave the line, get a cup of coffee, stop at a store, depending on the length of the line, only to return and identify their spot in line behind the “Ultimo” when they asked earlier.
I found Santiago (historic center) to actually be cleaner and less hectic than Habana. The town center, Parque Céspedes, was where everyone gathered to sit and chat or use their wifi cards. Bacardi rum originated in Santiago de Cuba. Santiago de Cuba is also known for being the city of rebels; Jose Marti and Fidel Castro are buried here.
As I experienced in Habana and Trinidad, the cost of a meal was relatively inexpensive versus a developed country. I think during my entire trip, the most expensive meal was $15 CUC (Cuban convertible peso), which is equivalent to $15 USD. I could never eat an entire meal since the quanties were massive. The casa particulars were pretty economical as well. I stayed in 2 different accomodations in Santiago, one more upscale than the other. They cost $20 and $25 per night.