Cuba 2007: Day 4

Here is a link to tomorrow's diary.
Here is a link to yesterday's diary.
Here is a link to the index of the days.

Here is a link to today's photos. Click the big i button in the centre of the screen to get the titles of each slide. However, it'll probably be best to look at the photos after you've read the following text (if you plan to do that!).

After yesterday's excitement, the plan today is to take it a lot easier.

I wake earlier than I wish. With the windows wide open, the early morning sounds of Baracoa wake me at 0730. I get to breakfast at about 0840. Although there's a coffee dispenser and a fruit juice dispenser and a toaster, none of these are working. There's just a couple at breakfast and so they don't give any clues. As I walk towards the doors of the kitchen, the doors burst open and the waiter comes out to deliver two omelettes to the other table. I return to my table.

He asks me something in Spanish, and after me stumbling he restates it's in English. He's asking me for my room number. He then returns with an empty cup, a fruit juice, a plate of three small rolls and a plate of five fruits (pineapple, grapefruit, mango and two others (squashes?)). He asks me whether I want coffee. When it comes he gives me one cup. It's not too bad. And when he's later doing other tables, I hijack the coffee run, and manage to get three cups in all.

I decide to leave the rolls until my omelette. When I finish my plate of fruit, he doesn't come back. So I get him over and quiz him about an omelette. He says "natural" or "jamon and queso". I ask for the latter. When it comes, it's not bad. Later, some more inquisitive customers get the full menu out of him. I can't hear much.

After breakfast, I wonder what I'm going to do for the rest of the day. I should have planned this better. A book on "Ruby on Rails" would be good at this point but is this what I should be doing on my holiday? From time to time, I look to see what the other occupants of this place are doing. Occasionally, people go into the pool, but curiously not many do. Some use the deskchairs. But mainly they sit in the pool bar reading a book or playing cards. Well, all that looks pretty boring.

I decide to spend the morning doing two things: doing some washing and typing up the diary for yesterday.

I wash two shorts and a T-shirt. Although I've brought detergent (but the shop here sells detergent!), the washing task is a bit difficult as the sink has no plug and I've left my allegedly-universal plug at home. I find that the wastebin in the room is really a bucket (or maybe it's because someone left a bucket behind). It's a bit dirty and I try to clean it. It works fine.

I type up yesterday's diary. This takes for ever.

At 1330 I break and go into town. Three things: to see what books the bookshop has (it's closed probably because it's Saturday afternoon), to see whether one of the other restaurants is open (it isn't) and to take some photographs.

I feel conscious walking around town taking photographs. In some situations, I get adventurous and take a quick photo when I hope people are not watching. But there are plenty of photographs I'd like to take but I'm too scared.

It's very hot and when I get back to my room I spend a lot time just dripping water.

It's been a news day on CNN. Terrorists have driven a "SUV" into the Departures building of Glasgow Airport. It happened at 1515 BST which is 1015 Cuba time. It is also 1015 ET and even earlier PDT which means that CNN can run with this story all day. Although they are running it as a "Breaking News" story, there is little breaking news.

Bits they hint at but leave uncovered include the planes sitting on the tarmac for more than 5 hours which have passengers on board going nowhere. And there's a report that Liverpool airport is closed but no indication why.

In the evening I look for another restaurant. The Casa Tropical has its doors open but there doesn't seem to be anybody inside. These places don't have menus outside, and it's unclear as to whether it does dinner anymore.

I come across the Café 1511 which has several occupied tables which seem to be taken by local people. And I'm unclear as to whether this is a dollar restaurant (for tourists) or a peso restaurant (for locals). It looks reasonable. I note it and later look it up in my guidebooks. Only one mentions it, and I guess I should I should try it tomorrow for my last night in Baracoa.

So it's back to "La Colonial". Tonight the two small tables are occupied. Later a party of 10 come in and occupy the big table. Later I discover there's a table further inside that is already occupied. The waiter recognises me from last night, says that one table will soon be free, takes my order for the main course and for a beer and suggests I sit on the porch. Even when the table becomes free, he suggests I continue to sit there until my food is ready. I readily agree. Earlier, he told me the menu is the same as last night, and after getting him to repeat it I choose "Pork Fillet". Although when it arrives it's not quite what I was expecting, it's OK. It comes with the usual accompaniement of vegetables, bread and rice.

Again, he charges me 12 CUC (about 6 UKP) and for some reason I overtip giving him 15 CUC.

It's 2120 when I get to the Casa de la Trova. There are fewer people about tonight but the band has already started. It's the same formula as last night (and every night). The MC tries to get me inside. Later I walk in, he brings me a table, gets me a mohito and asks me where I'm from. Curiously, as he spends most of the time coercing tourists to come inside, he speaks little English.

During the break between songs, he introduces me (in Spanish) to the rest of the audience and points out that there are now two groups from Inglaterra.

He later asks me 1.50 CUC for the mohito.

Like last night it's excruciating. It's a different band form last night and they are not that great. I have a feeling I've seen them on the last trip. The lead guitarist occasionally comes forward and plays his guitar immediately in front of some of the audience and stares at them in a weird way.

After a while, I note that lots of youngsters are passing the front of the building: they are either all going somewhere or have come from some event. I'm curious as to what is going on.

Although when I get to a square there is a parting of the ways of some of the people, it's clear after a while that they are making different routes to the Malecon. When I reach there, there are speakers blaring out modern Cuban music to a crowd on the Malecon. Some are sitting on the wall next to the sea, others are standing, many are dancing. This goes on for several hours. And during the course of the evening the numbers build up. I think there are about 300 people there of various ages from 6 upwards. Even 10 year olds are dancing with their friends. Some of the teenagers are indulging in some close contact dancing. And at one point in the evening I see two older teenagers do salsa perfecly.

For the next couple of hours, I alternate between the Casa de la Trova, the Malecon and Rumbos (another bar playing recorded music with several people dancing). I avoid getting another drink.

On the way back to hotel, I discover another place with a live band. This is the place that was playing music loud last night. It was so loud that I could hear it loud enough in my hotel room. The same is true tonight. Although the line-up is interesting (lots of brass), they haven't got it together: it's several bands, the brass, the singers, the guitars and the percussion.

Here is a link to today's photos. Click the big i button in the centre of the screen to get the titles of each slide.

Here is a link to tomorrow's diary.
Here is a link to yesterday's diary.
Here is a link to the index of the days.