February 10, 2017
To continue with the Valentine’s Day theme from last night, our hosts’ two-year old son picked some flowers in the courtyard and proudly presented them to me at breakfast…so cute! We enjoyed our breakfast on the veranda outside our room which was decorated in pottery. The house was home to grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, and their little one. Our room may have been the largest we’ve stay in on the trip thus far. It included to queen size beds, a large wardrobe with many hangers, coat hooks, and even Cuban shampoo and shower gel, not to mention cups wrapped in plastic like a US hotel.
Our tour began at 8 am again. This time we headed to a national park called El Cubano in the mountains of Escambay. We got to spend close three hours here, and I loved every minute. I was missing my nature fix. We hiked along the trail Huellas de la Historia to a lovely waterfall. I only wish I had my swim suit so I could jump in the cold, clear pool of water and swim in the caves!
Instead, we relaxed on the limestone rocks which somehow still felt tranquil to me despite sharing the area with a few other tour groups. The path we followed was overran undulating terrain. Sometimes the forest blocked the breeze just enough to make it a little warm and muggy, but for the most part, we enjoyed a nice breeze as we followed the creek, inspected the world’s largest wasp colony, and spent some time bird watching. I was so happy to see the national bird of Cuba, the Cuban Trogan. It donned the colors of the Cuban flag; red, white, and blue!
We returned to town for lunch and ate at the House of Jesus. We climbed the stairs to the rooftop patio where we were served a feast. Everybody loved this lunch because it was different, though really if we broke it down it was mostly the same food with two new twists…we had bread, cheese, egg, ham, tomato and cucumbers, as well as the usual fruit. The twist were the pastries. We had five different kinds of gingerbread. Gingerbread filled with guava paste, gingerbread muffins, gingerbread cinnamon rolls with guava paste, flat gingerbread, gingerbread biscotti for lack of a better word, and even some savory fried dough. It was a much-welcomed change!
After lunch, we were given some rest time of which we took advantage, as it was sweltering. Just before our 3pm meet up time, we wandered to the other cigar shop to find they did not sell Cohibas either. This was getting discouraging. We needed some national Cuban cigars to bring home. Later, Valeri came through for us! But in the meantime, we still had some time to kill before we met the group at triangle park, so we stopped in at Punta Brava. The Dad at our home stay worked here!
From triangle park, our bus driver Michael took us to the pottery shop owned by the Santander family. Here, we watched a gentleman spin a few pieces on the pottery wheel. With one glob of clay he made three different items and he had enough left over to make one more. He made a cowboy hat, a mug for and an ashtray. After our group made a few purchases, we hopped on the bus for trip to the beach where we snorkeled and enjoyed a nice picnic dinner. The beach was a bit rocky with lots of shells and few fish, but the water was beautiful and the sunset and moon lovely.
Upon return to town, we spruced up and met at the “Spanish Steps” for a night out on the town. The cover charge was only $1. We joined Jimi, Frank, and Celine along with a large crowd on the steps as we listened to the band. The breeze kicked up, and it was actually cold, so we left Frank and Jimi behind and found a small place that was somewhat indoors. All those waiting in line to sit on the steps were probably happy to see us go. I was happy to see us go too as I loved this little pub across from the Casa de la Cerveza. It was very quaint and only seated about fifteen people. The three tables were filled with card tables, so we squeezed in at the bar. We girls took the bar stools, while Brian had to squat on this tiny chair. He is so tall, he almost made it to eye level with us.
Soon we moved on to Bar Yesterday with a bronze of the Beatles at its entrance. This is Valeri’s favorite bar as it plays different music, mostly American. The band played a variety of rock songs. The music was quite good, though there was room for improvement where the lyrics were concerned. Brian briefly found a dance partner, Page, but Page and I both turned in the towel around 11:30. It was a nice night out! ETB
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