The night was exceptionally short although it seemed that not everyone was as bleary eyed as I felt. The checkin at the airport was quick for our group and unbelievably slow for the other and, just as we were thinking that there was no way we were going to leave on time, we were called to board and took off right on the dot of our scheduled departure time.
The flight to Baracoa, in the far south, took 2 hours, during which time most people dozed. The area is the most verdant and lush of all the regions in Cuba as a result of the daily rain, which we experienced within a short time of arrival. The skies were grey and huge puddles were scattered along the road.
Unfortunately, as it is the high season and accommodation is at a premium, we were not all staying in the same house and I was sent to one on my own, which I wasn’t really happy about. However, I shall be moved to the main house tomorrow to be with a couple of the others at least. My room tonight is is a small house owned by an older couple with no English, so that is a bit of a challenge. Maybe I should have focused a little more on my Spanish classes rather than just chatting!
Once settled in, Monica, our very dainty and doll like guide, took us on a walking orientation tour of Baracoa, which is the oldest colonial city in the Americas and was visited by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492.
A surprising number of people had emerged from their shelters once the rain had stopped and there was a severe danger of being run over by a bicycle, bicitaxi or horse and cart as we walked along. It is a very colourful but run down town, although as I have discovered, it does not necessarily mean that the homes are shabby in the interior, just because the exterior has deteriorated.
By late morning, we were all beginning to flag so we had a small lunch at a cafe overlooking the sea, visited the shop for supplies and then returned to our rooms for a rest.
During the afternoon, the heavens opened once again and torrential rain persisted for a couple of hours, leaving the streets awash. It also put paid to any thoughts of hiking tomorrow as the rivers were too high and the ground too slippery. I had hoped to walk up El Yunke (the anvil or table mountain) but that was not to be.
I joined three of the Australians for a mojito before dinner at the cafe in which we had lunch, having acquired soaking wet feet along the way. We all then had a magnificent seafood dinner cooked by Willo, who is the owner of the main casa and coordinator of the casa particulars/homestays in Baracoa. He is also an excellent chef and provided us with lobster, fish in coconut sauce (a local speciality), small fish like anchovies, mussels and white fish, preceded by bean soup and followed by ice cream, for a grand total of 12CUC! (One CUC is more or less equivalent to $1US.)
After dinner, the rest of the group went dancing but it was way past my bedtime and, unlike the others, I had not managed to sleep in the afternoon, so I returned to my casa. There was a lot of noise around about and as I was dozing off, I heard a group of people singing the haka, which left me wondering what country I was in! Apparently a group of New Zealanders were staying in a house nearby and a spontaneous party had started after dinner.