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Cuba Libre - Coffee, Camera and CD

Day Three


A beautiful orange light is streaming into our room through the window shutters. Curiosity gets the best of me and I walk out onto the terrace to experience the Cuban sunrise...camera time!...photo opportunity ( one of many )! All is quiet, not a soul around, no cars, no noise, just this gorgeous, colorful, warm, balmy, relaxing moment. I soak it all in...I'm in Cuba... Cuba!..I still think I'm dreaming! My camera is getting a workout while my honey is sleeping in. I walk around our terrace to investigate our surroundings...all is quiet at 6 am in Cienfuegos "or Centrifuge" as my language impaired -(including English) travelling companion would pronounce it. The sun is just about up now . Someone is riding a bicycle on a street which is divided by a median with plantings of palms and different types of tropical grasses. As the bicycle approaches the front of our hotel, a gentleman, I would guess approximately 65 years old or so, dismounts the bicycle, which has a basket attached to the handlebar, takes an apron and a canvas sack out of the basket, leans the bike against a palm tree and stoops down and starts to weed the median. Within approximately 30 mi
nutes, three more people on bikes arrive and proceed to weed this median. I snap a few more photos and decide it's time for a coffee.

Walking down the flight of stairs to the lobby... with my limited Spanish I greet the girl by the coffee machine. "Buenos dias. Por favor, una taza de cafe?" She smiles....no habla Ingles on her end and hands me a cubita filled with coffee. (A cubita is a cute little black and white ceramic cup and saucer that says Cubita, the size of a Demi tasse ) ..ok...I am a coffee drinker..from New York...this is a start but we will have to work on this. I make another attempt with my Spanish : "puedo tomar mi cafe y sentarse en el agua? " (May I take my coffee and sit down by the water?) "Si, chyes"..she says. I choose a seat by the bay to sip my first cup of cuban coffee and take in the scenery.


My camera has a great zoom feature which I use to scout out the bay. I spot a small boat with two people in it, they appear to be fishing. Snap! Snap! Another photo..or two. Three sips and I'm out of coffee...maybe it's time for breakfast. Back up in my room, I decide to announce the happenings of the day so far. In a whisper I report what is going on in our Cuban neighborhood and state that I'm going for breakfast. Less than impressed, I get a long-groaned " whoop-de-do" and a mumbled "what time is it?" from my sweetie. I tell him it is 7:15, he needs to be ready to board the bus by 8:30..and see ya later..off to the buffet breakfast I go. I recognize a few faces and get to know a little bit about our travelling group...and then I'm off again..down the street to explore my new surroundings.. You would think I'm a professional photographer..taking photos of everything..bending down to get eye level with a bug and a lizard, leaning over a fence to get that perfect shot...you know what I mean...you get the picture...right?

As I'm leaving the breakfast area, guess who..is coming for breakfast!! He is up and ready to greet the world! ( but is the world ready for him?) I join him with another coffee...can't have too much java ...and as he starts to make the rounds with his "hey pal"... I take my leave. I need to pack my knapsack for our day..." I'll meet you on the bus!" "Ok", he says. I run back to the room and into the knapsack goes the..sunblock, insect repellant, hats, tissues, snacks, first-aid kit, bottles of water and, of course, my camera. I am ready!

I hear a roar of laughter coming from the bus. Well, no wondering about where my better half is...he's already on the bus entertaining the group with his dry humor; One of the qualities he possesses that I fell in love with. This is what makes travelling with him so much fun. In a nutshell..he's nuts..hard to describe but when you are in his company..you can't get enough and everyone wants a part of it.

The drive to the botanical garden is quite scenic. Lush countryside, clear blue water as far as the eyes can see. Gorgeous! The gardens themselves, primitive and interesting. 2000 species of exotic plants ..Palms, bamboo and mimosa...black mahogany and 400 types of orchids. And heat..it is so hot that we need to get back in that bus and get on our way to Trinidad. One thing I notice is that there are no stores...anywhere. None. No CVS, no grocerie stores, no clothing shops, nothing. No signage, no advertising, no commercialism! None! Except the same spanish slogans on a wall or side of a small building here and there....Fidel...Che...Revolution! Obama give us 5 (referring to the hostages)



During the ride, Nilda explains the currency to us. There are two different currencies in Cuba. The CUP and the CUC. The CUP is the Cuban Peso, used only by the Cuban nationals. The CUC is the only money that tourists use and is worthless outside of Cuba except for a souvenier. 1 cuc = 24 national pesos. Cuba has a supply limitation system, a rationing system. Each person in a household receives 12 eggs, 1 cup of cooking oil, a 1/2 lb of chicken, 5 lbs rice, 10 oz. of grain ( red beans), 1 lb. of brown sugar, 3 lbs. of white sugar and a package of coffee..a months rations.. That's it. The monthly income averages about $16. Free education and free medical. Nilda mentions that her family can barely get thru the month on 4 lbs of sugar per person. This is what makes her so sweet, I guess. We make a stop at a building that is no bigger than a walk- in closet which is the local store, only open certain hours where locals can purchase things like matches, toilet paper, and pick up their rations. Again, no sign to let you know it's a store. No cash register. Goods are tallied with a pencil and paper. No people around, no children playing in the streets.

We arrive in Trinidad, a 500 year old, well-preserved city...UNESCO (which my darling thought was the name of our tour guide) declared this city as the oldest city in North and South America. Trinidads oldest section is only 45 blocks in size, with over one thousand historical structures. Beautiful buildings with bright-red tiled roofs and cobblestone streets. A step back in time.. A visit to a museum or two and a stop at a ceramic studio round out the day. Dinner is at a local palador (restaurant). Entertainment included...beautiful cuban music: Guantanamera, always a fav.... which, if interested, CD available for purchase...thank goodness!. I could not resist. The talent is amazing...

Of course, I cannot take enough photos: the pictures actually tell the story...don't you think?


Posted by Linda Fluckiger 17:31 Archived in Cuba Tagged animals hotel in cuba garden la del mar trinidad botanical perla rationing

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