A Day in CienfuegosMarch 11 in Cuba ⋅ 🌙 23 °C
Travelling in Cuba really is certainly a little bit different to travelling in western countries. I guess because the country has been cut off from the rest of the world for so long, they have no ready yardstick to compare their performance against the elusive “world’s best practise”. The Jagua Hotel is a great example of this. While in some respects it is a good 4 star hotel, in other areas it fails miserably. The air conditioning works well enough to ensure you can have a cool nights rest, but when you step under the shower, the water temperature never rises above luke warm. The shower door itself falls off whenever the door is opened or closed. My bed is comfortable and massive but the door to my patio requires a test of herculean strength to get it to open or close. The bathroom is large, but it stinks of tobacco, presumably thanks to the smoking habits of a previous occupant.
Although the room has a number of these niggling issues, the view is just so superb, that it is easy to overlook them all. We have two nights here before we move on to Trinidad and our first taste of the famous Casa Particulaires (home stays) that we have heard so much about.
After breakfast we cycled into the centre of Cienfuegos for a look around the central square. We arrived in the middle of a book fair, with a collection of sellers stocked up with what looked like school text books. One of the buildings in the square is a school and it was interesting to see the well dressed pupils wandering around the exhibits. Education is completely free in Cuba and this extends to the provision of the school uniforms as well.
We then headed out of town to the famous botanical gardens. The hot and humid weather combined with a succession of hills to make the modest ride a lot more challenging than it should have been. When planning this trip I had been worried about how I would cope in these sultry conditions and the answer was now very clear – not very well.
After a nice lunch in the garden cafeteria we were taken on a guided tour by a very enthusiastic guide. The combination of heat, humidity and non stop talking soon took its toll on me. I seldom take guided tours at any time and I found my mind wandering. The sultry air seemed suffocating and I desperately looked for a chance to sneak away unnoticed. I walked back to the café and had a couple of drinks in an attempt to wake myself up again. They didn’t work.
Although I could have punished myself by riding back to the hotel, I really found myself lacking motivation. I can see no virtue in self flagellation at any time. We had paid good money for the services of our bus and driver. It was air conditioned in there, while the air outside was enervating. So in I went (along with several others). It was delightful. I dozed in the cool while the others sweltered their way along a hilly road back to Cienfuegos. It was a brilliant decision.
Later in the evening we dined at one of the most amazing restaurants I have ever seen. Rather than try to describe it, I will simply say look at the pictures below.Read more