Day 6

Great sleeping last night . . . the rum may have helped too!

Nice walk to breakfast . . . the silence broken by a speech being given by Fidel?????????

No just our own TommyH practicing!

Quiet around the swim up bar in the morning . . .

Omelets made to order  . . . provided energy for our first stop today with or guide Alexis, from the Baracoa historical center.

A memorial to the landing of Antonio Maceo, the military general who organized an expedition and gave the first orders for the fight to repel Spanish aggression.

Second stop was the home of a local entrepreneur who makes and sells cucuruchos, a tropical almond brittle made with raw local chocolate wrapped up brown palm leave . . .

. . . as you can see from the pile on the other side of the fence, they go through quite a number of coconuts!

Their simple but tidy and very clean kitchen . . .

their cistern . . .

. . . and shower area.

The local kids made out like bandits as our group loaded them up with small presents we brought to hand out.

Our hostess explains the process of making the candy . . .

. . . while her daughters hull and split the almonds used in preparation.

Local crafts made by the family. The purse was made out of foil gum wrappers and the gold and green ‘Packer’ ornament was made out of soda can pop tops. Very resourceful!

emJay talking to the patriarch of the family who was 92 years old! Eliseo, who had not been to the Baracoa area for 8 years, told us on the bus ride the gent had climbed a coconut tree 8 years ago and retrieved coconuts. He wasn’t sure if he was still alive. He is still VERY much alive and climbed the tree for us!!!! Note the curvature of the inside of his foot, caused, we believe, from climbing coconut trees for 85+ years!!!!

The palm leaf gadget he uses to climb the tree.

Ready . . .set . . go

See him in action in this video!!

emJay and Barb sample the coconut milk from coconuts that were, three minutes before, hanging on the tree. Can’t get any fresher than that!

The families ‘back yard’, nice view . . . .

Chickens like coconut too . . .

. . . but the kids like the chocolate candybar Karen shared.

Next stop was lunch, where they had white tiled bathrooms, WITH toilet paper!!

This was the first of several pig roasts we enjoyed at lunch during the week . . . YUMMY!!!!!!

It wasn’t quite done yet, so there was enough time for a guided tour up the river.

Just off shore there was an island where three families lived without electricity or running water. Their children went to boarding school on the mainland and came home on weekends.

Here is one of their ‘piggies’ fattening up’!

Our guides were very knowledgeable about the fauna and flora, pointing out birds it took us some time to spot . . . great humorists too as they tried to convince us of the crocodiles up ahead!!!!

emJay shares a hat with our guide . . .

. . . while some of the others bellied up to the bar . . .

. . . and some went shopping. Mike couldn’t decide if the baseball/revolution hat would fit in back home in MSN.

Four course lunch starting with a yummy pork soup served in pieces of split bamboo!

Great music during lunch. I was late on the draw with this song but got a sample of what we heard.

The pig is ceremonially delivered from the pit . . .

. . .and carefully dissected by our chef.

Pork and chicken are staples in the Cuban diet. This one lived to see another day!

Delicious lunch was had by all . . . including seconds

Jeff makes a new friends.

We sipped our beer and rum, listened to the music and watched the world go by.

On the way back to the bus we did some shopping . . .

. . . and so did Eric. Not sure where he will display that!

We returned to the hotel and found Mable, our maid, had left us a nice welcome home sculpture!


Back in Baracoa we walked the pedestrian mall . . .

. . . and ventured around the city until we landed at a great local artist’s shop and gallery.

. . .  several of our group bought paintings . . .

. . . while emJay made friends with these two little girls who were out with their grandmother. While they chatted in Spanish, the older girl made emJay the flowered necklace she is wearing.

. . . one of the many reminders.

However, private entrepreneurship is really taking off in Cuba primaily in the restaurant and lodging areas. Here is a restaurant that tried to lure us in but we walked down the street to another three story establishment where Brenda and I ascended the steep stairway to check out the dining options.

. . . while the rest of the group waited below.

Thumbs up was the report, 5 star bathroom and 5 star menu. We made a reservation!

We continued our walking tour of the city, stopping at a statue of Hatuey who was persecuted by Christians. His statue is right across from, and facing, the Catholic Church!!!

The American flag design never looked so good!!!!!!!

Jeff had a touch of the ‘tourista’ but was still his happy go lucky self, as he ate some oatmeal he had brought from home just for that purpose. He would pass on dinner tonight . . .

. . . as we headed downtown to the restaurant.

. . . and what a meal it was in this privately owned establishment.

Alberto passes the plate of lobster as we passed around the family style served meal . . .

. ..  of lobster, beef, shrimp and fish. What a meal . . . followed by a great dessert and

. . . a wonderful discussion with the restaurants owner’s son who explained to us the opportunities and challenges  of working in the private sector.

This was interesting. All the food is prepared on the second floor and sent up to the open air roof using this dumb waiter. They cook on the second floor so they can serve on the upper and lower levels. The lower level is used to provide the non-stair access necessary for a special Trip Advisor rating!!

Eric says goodbye to his new friends . . .

. . . before he heads home in a beecee (bicycle) taxi. The rest of us were going to walk through a few more galleries and head over to the Cultural Center for a special Afro-Cuban dance show.

. . . some Cuban artists have a great sense of humor.

The show was FANTASTIC and Karen and Barb could not help but get up during a few of the numbers. The Cuban dance part was the best. The African part was a little intense with the voodoo fire eating and the guy who put the point of  machete behind his eyeball!!!

The girl and the two guys dancing towards the end of this vidoe were UNBELIEVABLE!!! VERY high energy!