We were on the move again today and spent quite some time in the bus. Our destination was Cienfuegos but along the way we had to do a detour to Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevera Mausoleum.
The route was very cross country and the one that Ricardo had been very reluctant to do. Having been along the road now, I am not surprised as in some places it was atrocious. At one point, we were going so slowly, weaving around the pot holes and up and over bumps that I asked that if the road was going to be like it for much longer, could I walk. This I did but, no sooner, had I started than Ricardo zoomed off into the distance! At least it gave them all an opportunity for a smoke whilst they waited for me up the road and I enjoyed the walk. Unfortunately, Gerard stepped in some fairly smelly animal deposits, which he then managed to trail into the bus. Needless to say, after that, he was not at all flavour of the moment with Ricardo!
We arrived at the Mausoleum at about 11am and spent some time looking at the museum. Che was killed in Bolivia in 1967 but was not interred, along with compatriots who died with him, in Santa Clara until 1997. This is a national memorial and the atmosphere was extremely intense.
Afterwards, we continued on to Cienfuegos, which is on the coast slightly north of Trinidad, arriving at about 2.30pm. None of us had had lunch so Monica arranged for us to have ham and cheese sandwiches at the Casa. Ham is a very loose description for the processed meat of varying shades of pink that is served in Cuba. This particular ‘ham’ was quite spectacular in its degree of pinkness and one which Mariana, Deb and I were a little reluctant to eat but it had to be done!
Monica then took us on a walking orientation of the city, which is a Unesco site and, as yet, seemingly undiscovered by mass tourism, which was excellent after the experience in Trinidad. However, it doesn’t deserve to remain undiscovered as it is a beautiful city, built by the French (the only French city in the country) with lovely baroque and neo classical buildings around the Plaza Mejor. It also has a Malecon, albeit a short one, and the busiest main street I have seen outside of Havana.
We all wandered our different ways after the orientation and I spent quite some time walking around and then watched the sunset from the Malecon, which is close to our house.
Later, we regrouped and Monica took us to the restaurant owned by the Cienfuegos homestay coordinator, which was just around the corner. I then had the best meal for the best price that I have had in Cuba. Excellent shrimp soup was followed by excellent shrimp with ‘Grandma’s’ sauce and creme caramel, accompanied by a couple of cocktails and all for 10 CUC! I had expected the food in Cuba to be all beans and rice but I have been very pleasantly surprised at the standard. This particular restaurant is also attended by locals but, typically of Cuba and its dual economy, there is another menu and appropriate prices for those paying in the local Cuban peso.
After dinner, Deb, Mariana and I had a walk along the Malecon, where lines of teenagers were propping up the wall and chatting, and then I joined Gerard, Jules and Cheryl at a show that they had thought was a drag Cabaret but which was actually an excellent performance of dance, representing Cuba. The costumes were superb and the standard of dance outstanding. It was worth every peso of the 4CUC entry.