Bay of Pigs, cenote and voodoo

Tank parked in the garden of the Giron Museum
Tank parked in the garden of the Giron Museum

I had a very claustrophobic night in my pink cell with no windows or air vents. This is the third such room I have had on the tour and, with visions of having the same room in Havana that I had had previously, I asked Monica if she could make sure I have a room with some air for the next couple of nights.

Sign for the Museum
Sign for the Museum

We had a day in two parts today. Our ultimate destination was Havana, which was about 6 hours drive in total, but first we stopped at the Giron Museum and then at the Bay of Pigs (or the more romantic sounding Playa de Conchines) for a swim in a cenote and in the crystal clear turquoise sea.

At the Giron museum, we first watched a documentary about the attempted invasion by the U.S. in 1961. This was two years after the Revolution and, apparently, was a counter revolutionary attack led by Batista supporters living in Miami, who were supported by the CIA, and which was defeated by Fidel’s troops. It was, of course, also related to the Russian missiles that were housed in Cuba and which posed a major threat to the U.S. in the context of the Cold War. Nothing changes! In this era, we have the same problems but a different arena. It has, however, been interesting to note the presentation of history from the other side, so to speak.

The Cenote
The Cenote
Crystal clear water at the Bay of Pigs
Crystal clear water at the Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs was a short drive from Giron and we were soon able to swim in the very soft, very deep cenote water and afterwards in the sea, in which a number of people were having a dive lesson and even more were snorkelling.

I contented myself with a swim in the beautifully warm water. We spent quite some time relaxing and having lunch before getting back in the bus and continuing on to Havana, having one stop along the way, and arriving at about 5pm when we said goodbye to Ricardo.

Monica was desperate that I was happy with my room (it is quite amazing how much she has tried to please us) which was indeed excellent with some quite spectacular light fittings. It is at the top of the house and is probably the best room of all. I am beginning to feel a little guilty about making a fuss even if it is only a small one but I really cannot cope with being in an airless box.

We all went in separate directions after this and I walked all the way along the Malecon, which was thronging, it being a Saturday afternoon.

On returning to the house a bit later, I sat on the roof terrace listening to some African Cuban music that was being played in the house opposite, whilst sipping my rum and coke. As Mariana and Deb had not returned from the Internet place, I then ventured out for dinner on my own, something I would not normally do in a city but Havana is extremely safe. I ended up in a wine bar that could have been anywhere in Europe and had an excellent ‘menu’ comprising grilled chicken with rice and perfectly cooked vegetables, an exceedingly strong mojito and the best coffee I have had so far, all for 8CUC.

The landmark pile of rubble next to our Casa
The landmark pile of rubble next to our Casa

Mariana and Deb had just returned when I arrived back at the house, and I was chatting about the music I had heard earlier, which they would have loved, when we were invited into the Africans’ house opposite. Mariana and I then had a most bizarre experience in which we were taken into a room with what appeared to be a shrine of flowers, told to kneel and shake some maracas and then give money. In return, we got flowers and cake. We discovered from our Casa lady later that it was a common ploy with the occupants to lure tourists in and persuade them to part with their money. And I thought we were going to listen to music! Obviously, my naivety is still alive and kicking!

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