Santiago de Cuba

29th December 2015

I’d have loved a few more days in Baracoa. I found myself quite conflicted over the way things are, seems unemployment must be high as there were so many people just hanging around, living conditions aren’t the best for many and it’s quite third world in lots of ways. But, the people are just lovely, happy and friendly, so who am I to judge or feel sorry for them.

It’s a place I’d go back to anytime, although today the tour moves on to Santiago de Cuba. Had a pit-stop at a pretty lookout to “see” Guantanamo military base from afar then a stop in the town of Guantanamo to get our pass to be able to go on to Cainamera for lunch.

The resort we went to had been featured in a documentary I saw before coming to Cuba, however it seemed rather more desolate now. The swimming pool was partially filled with green water, there wasn’t a guest to be seen and every door was firmly closed apart from where we were ushered. Such a shame as it was in a lovely spot and seemed like it might have been quite a pick at one time. There was a cute entrance over a little bridge, an interesting little museum like room, a great lookout and lovely dining room, but that’s where the upside ended.

This would have to go down as the absolute worst meal I have ever been served – I’m no foodie and don’t complain or send meals back – ever – but this just has to take the cake, so to speak. It was actually hilarious, and reminded me again how very fortunate and probably spoilt I am (also everyone else in the tour group).

Desert!!!

Desert!!!

There was, as is normal in the state run places, a choice between fish or chicken. I chose the chicken and took one look and one bite and just couldn’t stomach any more. I did eat the salad which was the usual and fresh. But, my goodness, they must have boiled the poor old chook for hours to make it taste like that. The worst thing was, none of us ate the meat and were looking forward to sweets but worse was to come!!! I’ve never seen anything like it before – a saucer with what turned out to be apricot syrup with a piece of plastic cheese floating on top. Honestly, our faces were unbelievable, I checked, because I couldn’t believe my eyes. And the saddest thing was our tour guide and bus driver absolutely devoured theirs……… It actually made me feel like an absolute heel – I still didn’t eat it but I did say a silent apology for not being grateful.

There was a great place for further views of far off the Guantanamo military base, we were not supposed to take photos, but honestly, none of us had a camera with enough zoom to pick anything out at all.

On the way out we spotted the poolside bar and an ice-cream fridge. Being the hungry poor souls we were we started peering hopefully inside! Alas, it had chains around it and we were told it wasn’t working – and there were little tubs of ice-cream inside – the weirdest thing ever. Really, the whole place was very strange, a deserted resort, open just for lunch!!!

The drive to Santiago de Cuba seemed to take forever and when we arrived it was straight to the Santa Ifigena Cemetery where Jose Marti Perez and many other Cuban heroes are buried. Had an interesting tour and watched the changing of the guard at Marti’s shrine.

Then on to Revolution Square and it’s massive statue to honor another hero, Antonio Maceo Grajales. Near his statue are also 23 huge machetes rising from the ground representing March 23 1878, the date the war for independence started again after a short truce.

The hotel we stayed at, Hotel Melia Santiago, wouldn’t be out of place in any western city, just like thousands of others all over the world, multi-story, modern with pool and restaurants on the ground floor. Tanya, Jennie and I had dinner at a pizza place, later I met up with our guide, Vlad,  Jennie, Wendy – we were the only 3 interested in going to Casa de la La Trova to enjoy the music and dancing. Don’t think Vlad was impressed at having to take the driver and bus for just three but them’s the breaks apparently!

What a missed opportunity this was, not only for those who didn’t come along, but also for us who did, we didn’t stay anywhere near long enough. Wendy made the decision we’d only stay a couple of hours – neither Jennie or I had any idea of how long we wanted to stay, and oh, I’m kicking myself. What a wonderful place, the music was fantastic, dancing divine, and people watching to die for. Jennie and I absolutely loved it, not so sure about Wendy, she seemed to be in bit of a mood again. Another situation where solo travel would have been preferable……………

Apparently Trova music and dancing is native to Santiago de Cuba, I fell in love with Cuban music and dance on my first day in Baracoa and La Trova just drove me deeper with every minute I sat entranced. So wish I could move like the Cubans. Must say I was especially taken with a couple of the males showing their moves on the dance floor. There was an older gent dancing with with a tourist (in my opinion) who was just exquisite – and I only got blurry photos of him, such a travesty. Even allowing for my obvious infatuation this was a fantastic place that shouldn’t be missed.

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Filed under Cuba, Mid-life travel, Travel

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