Today was a real rest day – I was looking forward to this leisurely day. Some time to wander around and just chill and explore. We got up at the same time as usual to get some breakfast before a bit more rest time. Then we headed up to the Hotel El Castillo (we were going to go via the Casa del Chocolate café but it was closed). This hotel is the fancy one in Baracoa set on the hilltop. It was a fort at one point but was converted into 28 room hotel with a pool and wifi. We headed up here on the first day during the orientation walk for a drink and the sunset – it’s lovely up there. It was nice to have a chat as a group and look out over the tiny little runway on the peninsula of the bay and the mountains and the water. If you look closely at the picture below apparently you can see the figure of a women in the mountains – just to the left in the clouds. This was pointed out by the guide at drinks the night before..it took me a while to spot but apparently it’s obvious! It was beautiful (back to the scenery and not the figure of a woman!). So, I was really looking forward for the rest in a lovely location this morning. The hotel allow non-guests to use the pool for 10CUC, which sounds steep but really you only pay 2CUC for the pool use and get 8CUC to spend in the bar/restaurant. We spent the morning in and out of the pool, napping on the sun loungers and ready – what most people expect to do on an average holiday, though it was the first time we’d done that in our whole time in Cuba. It was nice. We had lunch at the hotel: some Baracoan style prawns/calamari in sauce – yummy as ever. By mid afternoon though, I was bored. I just can’t sit still, I hadn’t explored the town (a quick 10-15min walk in the morning just wasn’t enough) and I wanted to do something.
First off, we visited a small church just off the main square – in it is the Cruz de la Parra, a wooden cross that had been erected by Christopher Columbus near Baracoa in 1492. The cross is in really bad condition and it a much small size than originally as many people came to take some of the sacred cross for themselves. It was a nice small church – but nothing that special other than that. We then headed to the main part of the town and then walked outwards towards the less touristy/more local area. It was nice to get out of the busy-ness of main town and just walk and take in the surrounding. We saw a few older locals playing dominos in the street outside their houses which made me smile. It’s really nice to see – a real community. I think it’s something that is missing in a lot of the ‘western’ world. Heading back towards town we popped into a small art shop – there were some amazing landscapes, some abstract portraits and just some random items like a lemon! It was a beautifully painted lemon in water with the droplets – it was incredible. I just have no need or desire for a lemon on my wall unfortunately. We did, however, buy a lovely landscape of the beach that we were at the day before. It’s acrylic on canvas and the colours are lovely – perfect for remembering the Cuba and the memories of the holiday that went along with it. We spoke to the artist who was sat in the side room working on another masterpiece. It was really nice to just watch him and have a little chat. He seemed to really appreciate it too!
That night’s dinner was a nice one: we went to the El Buem Sabor (‘good taste’) and it really was a good taste. I wasn’t really that hungry and I was feeling a bit rough (it happens when I take a moment to slow down!), but I really wanted to eat. This place is known for being good. I shared the mixed grill with my boyfriend and it was worth it. I didn’t eat much, but it was good to try. Just after the main, we felt a few drops of water as we were sat on the balcony..stupidly, we thought nothing of it and then…it started pouring! We were just thinking about heading down to the Casa de la Trova. Change of plans, we stayed at the restaurant for another half hour or so. That was nice, I mean, I was pretty tired and ready to head back (potentially via the Casa de la Trova) but we had a really nice chat with one of the young waiters. We talked about his band and just about life in Baracoa as it is.
By the time the rain had stopped we were all pretty tired but ready for an almost last night out. We head to the Casa de la Trova and stood on the outskirts of a little bit. The owner (I can only assume..he was the main host at any rate) came over to have a chat but none of us were really in the mood for a big night – I guess that’s what a relaxing day does to you! We all ended up heading back to our Casas for a relatively early night before heading back to Havana the next day!