Day 7

Today would be spent out in the bush on a nature hike. Might be some rain. The Baracoa area receives three times the normal rainfall of Cuba because of it’s location in the mountains. Very tropical!

This is Anvil Mointain named, because of it’s flat top,  by Christopher Columbus on his first trip to Cuba.

These little piggies would soon be on the way to market. Only a couple of days old now.

We are joined by our guide for the day, Jorge, who is the site manager for El Yunque, the bio reserve we would be touring today. He works for the Cuban version of the National Park system. Most of the parks do not displace the local people but allow them to live sustainably within the park boundaries. They take great pride in the property and serve as ‘eyes and ears’ for any poaching or evil doing that might be going on in the hood.

We parked near a banana buying cooperative and the rolling stock was just staring to arrive. Sort of like our grain coops.

Heading out for a new load.

Health care and education is provided to all Cubans. Their medical system starts with a local clinic like this in every neighborhood. More urgent needs and you would go to a regional ‘immediate care’ type facility. Eventually, if serious enough to the hospital. Each of these clinics serves about 1,000 local people. The doctor lives upstairs and the clinic is downstairs. A doctor makes about $20US/month.

Local traffic in the preserve . . . this guy had a mind of his own as he came charging down the hill in front of his owner . . .

. . . then stopped in the middle of the road waiting for him to catch up. We gave the cart a wide berth.

Bananas waiting to be harvested.

Los Tunas, the cactus, is used in many places as a living fence using its thorns to keep the critters in and predators out.

As we walked through the park we camp to a camping area where one can rent a little house, shown in the background, located on the river. No need for lawn mowing with donkeys and burros around!

Heading out for a days work in the field . . .

. . . while these two ‘lawnmowers’ had the day off!

As the rain continued on and off . . .

. . . we began to carry more and more clay with us. All that weight meant it was time for a break . . . and a beer!

Eliseo checks with the owner of a ‘roadside bar’ to see if she is open for business.

Time for a beverage . . . ice cold too!

emJay pulled out some Oscar Mayer wiener whistles we had brought along for kids and they were a big hit. The boy on the right figured it out first and the one on the left is still thinking about it.

The mother seemed excited about them too . . . I wonder how long that lasted! emJay gave her some nail polish and lipstick as a gift. When we left she was still smiling!

Dad was busy working on the interior of the house, hauling hand mixed concrete in pails.

The kids actually got pretty good with the whistles and were soon playing harmony. Here the appreciative audience had front row seats!

Soon it was time to head back down the road and to the first of many stream crossing.

A local farmers house . . .

. . . who had just bought the pig from the fellow on the left. The back legs of the pig were tied loosely together so it could not run away. He was trying . . . might have been nervous of that big machette, and may have been served on the table that night!!!

Up the river we went . . .


. . .where this fellow showed us how the locals cross the river.

Great speciman of the Cuban National Flower.

We stopped many times so Jorge could explain the operations of the reserve . . .

. . . soon it was time for a swim . . .

. . . and exploration of the river.

We turned to head back and soon this exotic woman appeared right out of the bush with a bird. Not sure it that was her hair, a wig or a hat she was wearing.

Pretty bird . . .

. . .and fancy nails!!!

emJay gave her some nail polish to add to her collection.

Just like dogs all over the world, here Fido was keeping a watch on it’s, seeing who was walking by and waiting for their owner to return!

This interesting contraption we learned was to catch and hold rain water in the piece of tire. Health care workers would come around at regular intervals to collect the water. Back in the lab they would test the water for the amount and types of mosquito larvae.

Once back at the bus it was a short drive to visit a working cocao farm . . .

that grew three types of pods including this hybrid.

Once harvested, the beans were sorted and dried before processing.

We usually gave each of our tour guides a tip and Jon put a different person in charge at each stop to collect a few pesos from our group and give them to the guide. After our tasting of hot chocolate, emJay presented the tip and made a new friend!

Time for lunch and another pig roast . . .

. . . looks like one happy pig!

This chef used a boning knife rather than a cleaver like the chef the day before did. Not quite as dramatic in the carving show!!!

After our late 2:00pm lunch, is was time for our bus ride back to the hotel. A few more discussion points with Jorge and we presented him with a WDNR Wildlife management shirt and had all of the ex-DNR folks pose for a photo . . .

. . . emJay presented him with a TNC hat that I positioned in such a way to hide the WDNR patch on his new shirt!!!

Mabel our maid had been to clean the room and left us another towel origami sculpture. The day before is had been a big heart. Nice touch!


After a few rums, it was time to head to another privately owned  restaurant located in downtown Baracoa.


Some sat inside . . .


. . . and some sat outside. This is the second restaurant we have overwhelmed with our request for wine. One of the staff vanished down the street and came back from somewhere with 4 bottles. Great meals were had by all!


. . . and the staff were VERY proud of their Trip Advisor rating. They deserved it!

Home to the hotel, a few more rums by the pool and then under the covers! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .