Sunday, April 29, 2012


sister city to Bordeaux, France due to a quirk of history, Cienfuegos is economically better off than many cities in Cuba.  It has gotten restoration funds both from UNESCO and from Bordeaux.  In the early days of settlement the city founders called out for dozens of French families to come join them so that the ratios of natives and slaves to white folk wasn't so overwhelming.  hence hundreds of years of ties to the french wine making city.

there is also a decent amount of industry here with fishing and shipping to the natural port of the adjacent bay. during the soviet era there were many USSR holiday makers who took their vacations here.

we stopped on our three hour journey from Havana at a rest stop along the way where this sign is the first hint that we might be entering a bit less downtrodden city than some of the parts of Havana we had seen.

refreshments for sale at the rest stop include tuKola and Lucky Strikes for the pause that refreshes (or was that some other brand? LOL)

some of the literature for sale to passersby who might read English....

we arrive at our hotel around lunch time and get checked in- we have lunch by the pool where Jennifer shows the tasty batidos (fruit milk shakes) that are beloved by the Cubans

view from the hall outside my room (#126) and then room views (bed decorations became quite commonplace)

after lunch we gathered for a walk in the main street where we saw the state store for selling things in Cuban pesos- it was like a department store with very limited numbers of choices but sold everything under the sun from beds and plumbing materials so clothes and toiletries such as toothbrushes and deodorant.

then on to the cigar store where the guys bought their supplies for the trip (no bringing back Cuban rum or Cuban cigars under the embargo)

this is what I bought - an expensive souvenir pack of matches- LOL

Dave enjoys lighting up!

then on to a bookstore and past the pharmacy where we find out there are few drugs available - you can see the limited number of shelves - this single counter was the whole store:

we are never far from the propaganda graffiti and never far from views of vintage cars still in use-

we walk around town some more and head to the jetty in the bay where we sit for a bit and enjoy the breeze as the day ends as it much hotter here than Havana.  then when we continue on we head to a local museum where we are bowled over by the local Cienfuegos Choir- they sing like angels - a cappella in a room with perfect acoustics. I will see if I can load a video clip so you can hear a few seconds of their lovely voices.  we heard ten songs and then headed back to the hotel  to get ready for dinner. we headed to the end of the peninsula to Casa Verde and a waterside meal of turkey and the super rum welcome drink!

a phone "booth" which of course is still in use as most people do not have home phones here

the amazing choir

the dinner place- we got to watch baseball in the bar (Cienfuegos versus Santiago de Cuba)

and finally -tried several times to get the video loaded with no luck- sorry you will just have to trust my review of their voices!

tomorrow a day with the artists at UNEAC (a writers and artists union) and their studios....

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