I’ve left my readers in suspense long enough and owe it to you all to finish the stories of my Cuban vacation. In Cuban Vacation….Part V, I ended with a teaser with the hope of meeting two wonderful women at Casa de La Musica.
After leaving the pub, Umberto took us to visit his mother and little brother. His mother had made some lovely fabric dolls that were quite colourful, which his brother watched cartoons in Spanish with a friend. It was different to see the way the locals lived in Cuba. At 20:00 a large meal of pork, black bean rice, fried bananas, fruit, side salad served with coffee and ice-cream for dessert. We hurried to eat our meal, get decked out and swing by Casa de La Musica.
We climbed the stairs and who would be highly visible but the two wonderful women I met earlier from Birmingham, who turned out to be Kate and Alice. We had found out that we were heading in different directions in the morning, but still enjoyed each others company. We had hours of storytelling and laughter with the playful music continuing in the backdrop before receiving a goodnight kiss. It was like a midsummer’s night dream.
In the morning, Kate & Alice noted they would leave for a waterfall. Tobias and I decided we would give them a send off; unfortunately we were unsuccessful finding the departure of the tour company. Alas, we left Dr. Suerez after writing a nice comment in their book and taking the long ride on the Viazul bus to Havana, some 300+ KM away and more than 6 hours of driving.
I slept most of the way and was quite happy to arrive at Hotel Los Frailes, which was a former monastery. The rooms had towering 14 ft ceilings, with wooden furnishings and was poorly lit, partly due to the fact there was no window. One can only imagine the life of a monk several hundred years ago, living in this room – it was quite the masterpiece.
The key was quite heavy and had a little figurine of a monk. It was a nice feature. Maybe an idea for local accommodators to incorporate something culturally significant to their operation for a small cost, but will get people to notice and keep them talking. Local ventures like Fisherman’s Landing, Torrent River Inn, Sea Echo Motel, Tuckamore Lodge, Mayflower Inn, Vahalla Lodge, Viking Nest and others may be able to utilize this tactic.
The towering doors had a peep-hole, which had a latch and several drills. It made me think of time that was more medieval.
The hanging chandelier looked like it required a stepladder to climb and light the candles. It was a very good knock-off and I was pleased they had upgraded to electricity, even if it took a while to light the room.
Dinner was at a nearby restaurant that had a platform with a band and two dancers that made great use of the floor to vibes of Cha Cha. I ventured into the wine cellar to pull out a Spanish Chardonnay. The Big Sword was my order, filled with a variety of grilled seafood. Believe me if was quite the feast….if you do not, the photo below will speak for itself.
My friend Tobias had a little sword (a skewer). The baby version more or less. The meal was quite enjoyable and I was quite eager to explore the Old Town of Havana in the early AM, after getting a taste of the flavour during the evening.
Part VII will be posted soon. Don’t miss a post by subscribing to my blog by entering your email at the top of the page. You will get an email telling you of a new post.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
The amount of green vegetation was quite the shocker for me. There were many impressive fields, trees and forests thriving in Cuba. Some of this may be due to the exceptional amount of humidity in the air.
One of the stops via train led us to a restaurant and bar. We ventured inside to get refreshments to quench our thirst. The temperature almost unbearable, with my clothing getting wetter by the moment as I perspired. A bottle of icy cool water never tasted so wonderful as it did at that moment.
Suddenly, a guy from the train told us that just down the stairs there was a contraption to press sugar cane to have a juice. He noted it was better with added rum for just 2 C.U.C. We ventured down. Little did we know we would be put to work pushing this device.
A two person job and a couple of turns we had enough juice collected for a couple of drinks.
The delicious end product – with rum for extra flavor.
After catching the train, we returned to Trinidad. Tobias and I met up with Umberto at the park. He toured with us, showing hidden gems of Trinidad. He also kept trying to sell us on visiting a family restaurant, despite us telling him that we had made previous commitments with our Casa for a traditional meal at 8 PM.
We were going for ice-cream, but instead walked to the Casa de La Musica. We opted to spend some of the afternoon at a nearby bar. We had rounds of Mojito‘s and Buchanero beer for all. It was an afternoon of sharing a few drinks and trying to talk to Umberto without him knowing English and myself not knowing Spanish. A little bit of friend and a good translator in Tobias we were able to have some conversation.
Suddenly there was a scream from a nearby table. A snake had dropped from the vine ceiling. The music was great, when suddenly my attention was no longer with Tobias and Umberto but two beautiful women across the room. The brunette and I had shared a few smiles with our eyes and the blond reminded me of a certain Doctor Heritage. Since Tobias was engrossed with trying to explain in broken Spanish my position of working for a non-profit in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador conducting Community Economic Development and business development services. I had to get up, in one part because I knew they had a good story to tell and secondly I had to passed them to get to the restroom.
The ladies greeted my presence with a smile. From hello I tried to get their accent and had asked the blond if she was from New Zealand (we later did make a connection from New Zealand); however, this women was currently enrolled in her third year of medicine in the United Kingdom. We had some beginners chat about the UK, Cuba and not wanting to overdo my visit let them know we would be going to Casa de La Musica at 9-9:30 PM. They noted they would hope to meet us there.
Stay tuned for more adventures of Cuba in Part VI.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
There is something I find extremely fascinating and satisfying about riding a train. It may have to do with the fact that there is no train offering on the island of Newfoundland since 1990. We use to have the Newfie Bullet; however, it has been many years out of commission. The former railbed of the main line is now utilized as a T’railway Provincial Park for hikers, skiers and users of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.
We arrived at a Ranch to stop for an hour and half. There were several work hands greeting everyone from the train. They had a restaurant with the chef ready to serve patrons a tasty lunch. The crops were in view and so were the horses.
Umberto, 19, asked us if we would like to go for a horse ride. The cost was 10 C.U.C. for 20 minutes. We decided we would saddle up and ride through the fields. I love horses and it has been several years since I have been riding. My last time may have been in Reidville in 2006. In between, I managed to ride camels, donkeys and the waves. I certainly missed the joy of riding.
Umberto (our Cuban cowboy) gives Tobias the reins of his horse:
We go to trot through the banana plants, fields and plantation. We discovered coffee, yucca, mango and more on our ride:
Umberto took us through the field after our first horse ride to see coffee. We got to taste the buds. He explained how they grew and how they needed roasting. Then he showed us three different species of mango. We ate one right there on location, peeling back the skin and embedding our teeth into the juicy fruit.
We returned back to the Tower galloping via horseback ride. It was quite adventurous dashing through open water. We would meet up with Umberto later to show us Trinidad and give an inside view of the city.
Horseback riding in Cuba was certainly a highlight!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
After the show, Tobias and I set up a giant chessboard for a challenging game. My goal was to get the dark queen of the night. However, she would be my downfall. Although I reached checkmate, it would be illegal. I ended up losing in the end to the dark queen. Great match from a worthy competitor.
It added to the travel adventure, as we realized we were not taking the expressway. We stopped numerous times to exchange wares, pick up some locals and even stop to check on some motorists that were having car troubles. At Santo Spiritus we got a “chico” (driver) for 30 C.U.C. to take us the remaining 71 km to Trinidad. According to the original bus station at Varadero it would only be 30 km and 10 C.U.C.. Nevertheless, it was well worth the cost as we rode the distance in a Cruella DeVille 1940’s or 50’s Chevrolet automobile.
We arrived at 174, the Casa populaire of Dr. Suerez and Addys. Great house! Best laughter from this women who is an amazing cook. After getting a view from the Terrace, we decided to have dinner as the music from Casa de La Musica played in the backdrop. Addys whipped up an excellent jumbo shrimp dish. I also enjoyed the delicious vanilla ice-cream with sprinkles. We decided to venture into the streets and find our way to the outdoor concert. It was quite impressive to hear and watch the performance of the musicians and dancers.