Cienfuegos

Jan 05, 2018 - Harmony V


It is not possible to leave Cuba unaffected. We have met people of generous nature, very warm and expressive, with music emanating from their homes, art everywhere, and high quality art. Being creative is within their spirit, it does not matter in which field, but they are innovative, either building cars or conceiving paintings or wood carvings. It is difficult to be unemotional about this country.

We have learned about its past, we are trying to predict its future. But no one can. It is only in their creative hands. We have also learned about their natural history, the unique species that inhabit this island, isolated from the rest of the world, and we have explored its pristine coral reefs.

It is hard to choose what to do for our last day, but there are always ways to interact and exchange experiences, so for the morning we chose the market in downtown Cienfuegos. We mixed in with the inhabitants of this flourishing city while they were buying goods for their day to day lives. Vegetables, not many fruits, herbs, and different kinds of alcoholic beverages, some with medicinal purpose, some for entertainment. There were the young ones and the older ones, people asking for prices and looking for the better items.

We saw the most important buildings of town around Parque Marti, the square where the first settlement was founded on April 22, 1819, under the shade of a majagua tree. We admired the Theater Tomas Terry, a neoclassical building inaugurated in 1890, and we walked the Boulevard San Fernando were food, souvenir vendors, and artists provide their trades.

Lunch was facing the bay, in an area that used to be for casinos and luxurious houses in the days before the revolution. Today it’s a paladar, Villa Lagarto, where the owner and its partners served us promptly and smiling.

For the afternoon we went to a musical performance. It was the children telling us about a classical kid’s story, La Cucarachita Martina. They were amazing dancers, very spontaneous and into their tale. The sweet cockroach, after several proposals, finds the love of her life, Ratoncito Perez, and we were all invited to the wedding. We danced, and we are all good dancers by now, as we have learned a few tips from the experts.

For sunset we went to the roof of Hotel La Union, where we had music again, together with Cuba libres and the great company of our travel companions who have helped us to see this country through different perspectives.

Once on board, we shared farewell dinner, and one by one our guests expressed their gratitude to the people who made their trip an enjoyable learning experience. We shared our highlights, and by all means, the favorite for most: the warmth and generous nature of Cubans.

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About the Author

Paula Tagle

Expedition Leader

Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.

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