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Cuba Sojourn – Day 5

February 12th, 2013 · No Comments · Cuba, Dance, eating, Education, Food, Important People, Learning Spanish, Museums, Musings, photo of the week, Site Seeing, travel

I realized that I have skipped over a wonderful art studio and walking to dinner adventure that took place, but I’m saving those as they deserve their own posts!

So, let’s continue our account of our stay in Cuba:

This morning, more gorgeous weather (weather is on my mind as in the last four days, here in western MA, we have endured a snow storm of close to 2 feet, and then a 3 inch mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain – I just shoveled crushed ice – I loved Cuba winter weather!)!

We had to have our bags out by 7:30, then onto the bus to drive to Matanzas.  Once again, and as always, Luiz stood and told us so much about what we were seeing, Cuba’s history, Cuba’s geography and more!  The road was bumpy on our ride of about an area where we stopped at a “rest stop.”  I was actually surprised at the state of the road, given such nice weather year round.  Here in New England, with the freeze/thaw of the year, it’s not uncommon to have roads such as the one we rode on in Cuba.  But, a few folks talked about it, and we figured it had to do with supplies, equipment, and other necessaries of good road construction that Cuba likely doesn’t possess.  And, we realized since we were headed to a resort area, perhaps it was the best road in the country and we shouldn’t complain!

The rest stop had some restrooms under construction; so we didn’t wait to use the shed, but walked about looking at the souvenir stalls, mojitos for sale and listening to the live band.  I’ve decided that American and other tourists areas should take this lesson from Cuba — why not provide employment for local small bands and have them play at these types of places?  It’s quite wonderful, and good for the band.

And, the view from the rest stop, built on a lovely hillside, was amazing.  I don’t think it was ever explained, but I’m guessing the rest stop, which seemed to have remnants of patios, etc. is another building once beautiful and used by the rich and famous of Cuba’s past.

Back onto the bus for about twenty minutes until we arrived at San Severino Fortress, built in 1734 – a Spanish fort.  There was a two room museum there that a local guide told us about: one room was about the history of slavery with some interesting objects.  The other room a really fascinating historical and current displays of the Cuba religion Santaneria.  I’d really like to read more about this religion.  THe models, dressed in the clothing of the saint or deity it represented, were works of art in and of themselves.  Life-sized models made of leather – so beautifully constructed.  I’m not sure I have photos, as with so many places, you had to pay a coin to take photos.  At this museum, there was a piece of paper and receipt filled out by hand in triplicate to go with that coin, and we decided we’d rather look around for a minute before the tour began than wait in line to exchange a coin for a receipt and a few photos.

Back on the bus for a visit to an amazing pharmacia  – La Botica Francesca, founded in the late 1800s by the Triolet family. – not only where they sold products, but produced it.  It was open for over 100 years (I’ll check that), and shut down during the Revolution.  There were a few empty but lovely rooms upstairs where the family lived, and Rich took a flight up another set of stairs to get a few photos of the square the building was facing.  The trees and plants were magnificent.  I can see that a flora and fauna tour of Cuba would also be an amazing experience.

Back on the bus to arrive in Veradora where our hotel – Melia los Americas – was located.  Boy, were we surprised about this one!  It was an amazing resort hotel – thought we were in a travel brochure!

Once again, the check-in process took forever.  Cuba will need to figure out how to be more efficient with this process if they want to attract more US tourists – I don’t know if other countries who tour there mind.  We waited a good hour or so; being the last at 3:15 to get our room.  We needed to be back in the lobby at 4 for a trip to Mantanzas to get a dance lesson at the Academia Baile en Cuba (ABC)!  The couples and instructors told us and demonstrated the danzon – an old and traditional type of Cuban ballroom dance. If you look on YouTube for a few videos, you’ll find more modern renditions.  Those who were teaching us demonstrated the oldest version which did look different, slower and more sedate than what the videos display. Rich got picked by a teacher to get a lesson!  And, we all watched and then enjoyed a song or two dancing with each other.  It was really hot in the dance space, but I would have enjoyed being there longer.

And, is our day over yet?  NO!  Back to the hotel, where a bit of a frustrating mix-up happened, partly due to the crazy check-in process, and we could not get reservations at any of the restaurants located around the hotel.  So, we ate in the restaurants dinner buffet – which, for me, turned out just fine.  It was elegant, excellent, and an amazing spread of food – just amazing.  And, with our little wrist bands – all inclusive.  All the darn drinks you wanted.

After dinner, hubby and I went to the Teatro, attached to the hotel, and enjoyed a really great show called “Cuban Romantico.”  Dance based variety show with amazing ballet, modern love pieces, and tacky disneyish stuff.  One piece was rather amazing modern dance with two couples, with the men ending up with each other – really impressive and moving.  No pictures of this as we didn’t bring our camera to dinner – dumb!

After, we walked in the lovely night air listening to the ocean, smelling the fresh air, and enjoying this amazing country.

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