To day we would tour the city of Camaguey, population 350,000. First stop was the ‘Institute of Friendship’ where we met the Director and his staff . . .
. . . he and Jon exchanged gifts . . .
lots of smiling handshakes . . .
. . . and of course a sing along!
There were posters regarding the US Cuban relationship and . . .
the results of a local painting contest . . .
whose message seemed pretty clear . . .
Soon we were back on the bus and as we motored along came a cross a new type of biking outfit . . .Yikes!
A lot of restoration is going on in the city but there is always room for more . . .
We unloaded outside the Camaguey Municipal Band’s practice area where they performed a special rehearsal just for us.
. . . a logo that was developed in the US for the group . . .
You will recognize this song . . .
. . . many of the musicians had pedaled to practice on their bikes carrying their instruments . . .
. . . including this beauty, which looks like may have been won in the Dutch National Postcode Lottery!! It is biggest charity lottery in the Netherlands founded in 1989. Fifty percent of the proceeds of this lottery are donated amongst 81 charities, which, in 2010 amounted to over 270 million euros.
All the touring made us hungry and we headed to lunch which was in sort of a Transportation/Amusement Park/Restaurant area. Planes and train cars were used and spotted among the restaurants . . . sort of lost in translation.
But . . . our lunch was EXCELLENT
Seated right on the bay . . .
. . . starting with a nice salad, although I had have adopted the ‘What Would Cindy Eat’ philosophy of NO RAW LETTUCE which probably would have been OK to eat here . . .
. . . followed by a lobster dinner for 21!!!!
Nice meal and garnishes . . .
Provided by the proud staff . . .
. . . the chef’s trained at a culinary school in Venezuela!
Back on the bus after this HUGE lunch we were on our way to meet with the City of Camaguey historic district planning restoration department . . .
. . . complete with powerpoint presentations . . .
A lively question and answer period and exchange of gifts . . .
. . . and we began our walk. First through one of hundreds of small square around the city, this one with . . .
. . . bronze statues of colorful local citizens!
Two new friends of Barb’s who received a few goodies . . .
Resourceful Cubans figure out an easy way to transport the kids around town with these wooden seats.
As we wound through the narrow street, many of which are not wide enough for auto traffic, the planning commissioner points out one the relics of the Soviet area . . .
. . . a historic block that had been razed to build the highest ‘condo’ in eastern Cuba!!
Luckily there was lots of local art and murals to add some color.
Here is their new convention center, with all the amenities, built to bring more meetings to Camaguey . . .
. . . which is right across from the Comndant Che hotel. Evidently, Che still keeps an eye on everything with the aid of a close circuit camera.
We finished off our walking tour by visiting the artist Orestes Larios’s gallery . . .
. . . which he has opened to a dozen local artists for producing art.
We wandered around, meeting the artists, looking at and buying art , for an hour when a special chamber orchestra concert that had been arranged for our group began setting up.
Very nice use of the space . . .
. . . with great acoustics. Really a nice time!
Jon, the delegator, had requested a group of 4 to serve as our final nights farewell dinner committee. Here the two treasurer’s assess the CUC’s collected for our guide and bus drivers tips.
. . . while over their shoulders in the hotel was this kiosk with literature reading everything that is Fidel/Raul and Che. Wonder if they would approve?
Tonight we were on our own for dinner and chose a well know local private restaurant, the 1811.
Nice setting . . . and we couldn’t help but wonder
. . . if this cow had been the last one shot in Cuba. After the fall of the Soviet Union, and their withdrawal of financial support to Cuba, the island faced many problems including famine. Cows began disappearing and appearing on people tables. The government became so concerned they implemented special rules. All cattle became property of the government and if you are found guilty of illegally killing a cow, you get 15 years’ in prison. Kill one of your fellow Cuban citizens and you get 10 years’!! As Eliseo told us, “Cows are sacred in Cuba”. Sort of like India!!!
The restaurant was known for its wine cellar . . .
. . . that included a chef’s tasting table.
However, when we orderd wine we were told there was none available!!! TommyH pushed the point and one of the staff left the building and soon came back with a bottle or two, from where, who knows! Here are Barb and Tom protecting their special order from the rest of us!
After our HUGE lunch many of us thought we would never to eat again . . . but soon the Special of the House appeared, sauteed fish with shrimp and coconut sauce . . .
. . . along with a HUGE serving of fried rice. It would have been enough for the whole table!!!
At least we had a nice walk back to our hotel to work off some of the calories . . . which were quickly replaced by several rums before turning in for the night!!!