Dec 22, 2017 - Harmony V

This morning we took a walking tour through the colonial part of Cienfuegos. The pedestrian boulevard was very busy; a line of people waited for one shop to open—what were they hoping to purchase?  We walked into a store that sold everything from mattresses to linens and small toys.  At the municipal market, people were buying foods not available at the ration stores—mainly onions, green tomatoes, beans, and pork.

We went into the historic Thomas Terry Theater and admired the classic architecture and design. Outside on the town square, a quincinera (15-year-old) in a puffy turquoise dress posed for photos near the fountain, while a professional photographer and assistant rushed around, helping her to look her very best. 

Some of us bought postcards or aged rum at the government store, and a few of us wandered into the special cigar room, where we saw the large humidor, and noticed that the walls were papered with tobacco leaves.

On our way to lovely waterfront restaurant near the end of Punta Gorda, we saw many extravagant villas built in the 1920s, (as well as some casinos), and stopped briefly to see an outrageously fancy villa, the Palacio de Valle, built mainly in a Moorish style for a wealthy sugar baron.

The Abracadabra Children’s theater troupe performed the traditional Cuban ‘La Cucharita Martina’ for us. We were seated just feet away from the performers, and that distance decreased as they coaxed us to participate—by the end we were all dancing with the children!  It was a joyful experience, and some of us even learned new dance steps.  Our day ashore ended with farewell cocktails on the rooftop terrace of the elegant La Union Hotel, as the sun set over Cienfuegos.

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About the Author

Berit Solstad


Berit grew up on the rocky shores of Marblehead, Massachusetts. In the tidal cove behind her family’s home she found horseshoe crabs, eels, and feeding frenzies of fishes and birds. Low tides exposed clam flats, crabs, mussels, and snails. She explored this marine environment through changing tides and seasons, nurturing a love of natural history and marine biology.

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