Sometime during the night, Harmony V entered the large and very protected bay where the city of Cienfuegos is located. We sailed in front of the old Jagua Castle, a Spanish fort built in the 1700s to guard against pirates and privateers. Cienfuegos is one of the most important cities along the southern coast of Cuba and certainly one of the prettiest, a quality responsible for its nickname of "the Southern Pearl" and we dedicated a big part of the morning to walking around the downtown area. Local markets are always full of interesting things to see, smell, taste and photograph and the one we visited was no exception. We merged into the marketplace and learned about the different vegetables and other food items offered for sale, and got the chance to interact with many of the vendors that happily showed us their best bananas, corn or papayas.


We explored several streets full of people, shops and life and eventually arrived to the Martí Square, the very same place where the official foundation of the city took place in 1819 under the name of Fernandina de Jagua, later renamed as Cienfuegos in 1829. From there we continued our morning of exploration and visited the Benny Moré School of Arts, named after the very famous musician born nearby. Benny Moré reached enormous fame throughout Cuba as well as in many other countries such as Mexico, the USA and Colombia during the 1940s and 50s and the school uses his name to honor his legacy. There, we enjoyed watching several of the students playing their instruments and showing their paintings and drawings to us.


During the afternoon we attended a wonderful children's musical performance by the Abracadabra local theater company; what a delightful event, with kids of all ages dressed in colorful animal costumes, each with a smile brighter than the one before, bringing the story of Cucarachita Martina to life. Most of us couldn't resist their invitation to participate and danced with them on stage. After that we enjoyed some cocktails, live music and a wonderful view of the city from the roof of the La Unión Hotel, but as our time together in Cuba slowly came to an end, my mind kept coming back to the Cucarachita Martina play, with people of all ages, colors and nationalities dancing and smiling together. No doubt that there's a lesson there.