Friday, January 22, 2016

I finally get to the mountains

So if you have gone back and read any of the 2012 trip posts you may know that the last time I was in Cuba there was a planned trip to the mountains that was canceled... you could if you had a strong desire read about the very relaxed day we had instead here-

or you could skip it and just come to the mountains with us today! It has been hot, really hot, here in Trinidad and of course going up into the mountains to learn about coffee growing in Cuba would give us a respite from the heat.  So come on let's go!

don't be fooled by the blue skies on this side of the mountain- we got up and over and down through a valley and then up again - and things get much more dicey- oh and did I mention we did this in Soviet area military transport vehicles -  so the views below are taken from a giant moving truck fitted with school bus seats...

up top there is an old sanitarium which was then a spa for Russian military in Cuba... by all accounts they mostly kept to themselves during the time of their deployment to the island-

our naturalist guide to the growing of coffee and its allegedly EXCELLENT properties - it can cure cancer according to this guy- along with curing all sorts of other things including arthritis - but every recipe he gave for cures had both coffee and alcohol----- LOL so no doubt when you were wasted you THOUGHT the coffee was doing you some good - LOL

of course we tasted a sample- and I am sure it was because the only coffee I ever drink is frappucino LOL- this was vile- it basically tasted like dirt to me- luckily it was a small cup and the ground was adsorbent LOL

parakeets in the trees were making a HUGE racket! no hiding out for these guys!

Then we went to the farmers' homes to visit and learn about how it was they ended up with a privately owned farm (they had already subdivided it into plots before the revolution and they were allowed to keep their forty acres because it was within the maximum allowable of forty acres) Their homes were lovely and open to the mountain breezes - with wide porches to protect the interiors - the grandparents lived more simply but still the home was immaculate- below the kitchen

photos from the big house - occupied by the son and his family-

son and his father (the grandfather)

ripe coffee beans-

the lunch stop was at this lovely mountain top restaurant-

our waiter looked familiar- LOL

the view from the terrace-

one son ran the coffee plantation - another worked at another plantation and a third one ran a little store that sold (big surprise) coffee and other produce from the farm-

here it looks like a toy house but moving in on the photo you can see the goods for sale - including the peanut bars they were selling to the tourists along with the coffee- there were samples and it was pretty darn good.  Phil ate the ones he bought while we still in Cuba - as late night snacks...when he could get decent wi-fi he was back to his usual routines with late night surfing on politics in the U.S.

the second from the left in the bar section were the peanut ones- and they sold completely out up at the farmhouse- but no one knew they were available down below at the road side store (I only found them on my picture when we returned to town - boo hoo for those who missed out)

our ride back down the hairpin turns from the mountains was quite hair raising especially since by then we had rain in earnest....

When we did get back to the hotel, we found towel sculptures in all our rooms, and many in the group went room to room to see what the housekeepers had constructed. Ours even had Phil's beard! These gals were not only talented in towel and bed clothes folding but they were observant as well!

We had our final dinner that evening in the hotel - a rather lackluster buffet.  The meals at the paladars have been much better than the ones we have had to eat at the hotels- not surprising that they make more effort but it is a bit of a change since last time I was here when the state owned restaurants had better food and much more choice...  but we didn't come for the food - we came for the people and that was a huge success..... tomorrow we head back to Havana with a stop along the way for lunch in the town near where Hemingway lived  but that is more for the next post- this is it for our time in Trinidad...

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