Today was equal part R&R and adventure. I started with another early morning. I was up for breakfast (an omelet today a much better choice) and down the beach by 7:30 to scope out beach chairs. I couldn’t believe how many had been claimed with towels already. Some of the people didn’t arrive for hours while others I never did see. I managed to snag us two loungers in the shade and then made friends with the stray beach dogs. I passed the morning reading my book. When Michelle arrived I went for a walk along the beach followed by a swim in the Caribbean Sea and a pinacolada from the beach bar. When I was getting my second pina colda I watched them put out a steaming pan of paella and grabbed some for lunch. I’m getting smarter about my meal choices. It wasn’t as good as paella I’ve had in Spain but it was my best meal in Cuba so far.
After lunch we had an excursion booked called the Sugar Tour. It gets you out in to a more rural area of Cuba and I recommend it. Though I think the selling feature for many is the two bottles of rum you get for free at the end of the tour. Most of the passengers were older I think my generation and those younger are spending their days drinking on the beach, their nights drinking and partying and their mornings hungover.
The tour starts with a 35 minute bus ride to our starting point a private sugar plantation. Buses are one of my least favorite forms transportation as they often make me nauseous. Today’s ride was in an air conditioned coach but with the bumpy roads I spent most of my time focused on not getting sick in stead of enjoying the scenery. The plantation is a working one who uses machines for the true harvest but for our purposes we got to see the traditional form of harvesting from machetor (machete master). He harvested some fresh sugar cane and we all got to enjoy a piece. We boarded the bus and headed over to a sugar mill that closed years ago and has been turned in to a museum where we learned how they made brown sugar and molasses. There were also numerous trains on display some live music and various vendors.
We then boarded the train to Cardenas this mode of transportation though bumpy and jerky was far more enjoyable. I sat on the floor in the back cart and watched the country side slip by. The open air allowed for a steady breeze.
We had a half an hour stop over in Cardenas and could either head to the museum, have a drink at the bar or explore. I of course opted to explore, though 30 minutes wasn’t nearly long enough. I saw our bus driver have some kind of deep fried street food and opted to follow suit it was very good. I then wanted something to drink, unfortunately bottled water isn’t really an option and tap water we are suppose to avoid. The shops are sort of hidden and each only carry a few items but I found one that carried some form of canned cola which was super sweet but refreshing. I took a lot of photos in that 30 minute time frame as everything caught my eye. Cuba really is like stepping back in time and I’m loving every minute.
It was a low key evening which included a nap, packing for Havana and calamari and rice for dinner followed by ice cream. My food choices are getting smarter and meals are more enjoyable but not quite a culinary tour.
Lots of pelicans and turkey vultures
6 stray dogs
Lots of farm animals (goats, chickens, horses, a couple of cows and an UIC (un-identified creature) possibly an ox)