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Published: November 9th 2014
A lovely homestay in Baracoa and a great restaurant with tasty local seafood in the specialty coconut sauce (very rarely is Cuban food cooked with sauce) and local music street club topped off a great introduction to the town.
The next day we took a day trip to a cacao plantation to learn how chocolate is made - very interesting though a different flavor to what we’re accustomed to. Following our chocolate lesson we arrived at a small river town where a rowboat took us onto an island that felt as though we were entering Jurassic Park. Unfortunately the rain meant it wasn’t ideal for swimming but we explored and enjoyed local coconuts from a Cuban Adonis who’d swan up river with his machete held high to be of service to us. After lunch we went to a black-sand beach were the swimming was ideal. Not quite as warm as we’d experienced in Trinidad but still probably 25°
C and no prickly stinging things to attack Courtney. Nearing the end of Cuba tour we had a slight change of itinerary as a different flight schedule meant that the Russian planes available didn’t pass Intrepid’s safety standards and thus a 5 hours
drive through the night cut our time in Baracoa short as we raced for our flight back to Havana. Aerocaribbean seems to be a better choice the Air Cubana, in case you were about to book!
Back in Havana, our aggressive initial touristing paid off as upset stomachs meant we had to take it slow for a couple of days. We had a local guide in Havana to fill in the gaps in Cuban modern history (i.e. anything past 1 January 1960 when Fidel’s revolution was triumphant). Paul visited the cigar factory and was happy with his purchase of legitimate products at non-exorbitant prices. Our farewell dinner with the tour group and our tour leader’s new hubby was a funny night complete with speeches and shots of rum on the house (Courtney’s stomach didn’t like that idea much!)
All in all we both thoroughly enjoyed our time in Cuba and are very glad to have seen it now. Three weeks seemed like a good amount of time to experience, however we had the aid of prearranged transportation and didn’t do the scuba/beaches/resorts of western Cuba. We highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history, culture and people.
From all the Cubans we met along the way, things are already changing and it’ll be fascinating to watch the country develop as the embargo lifts and the influx of tourism and capitalism increases.
Muchos gracias Cuba, hasta luego!
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