We woke up at 6, ate breakfast at 7, and were on the road by 8. It was going to be a long drive to the Bay of Pigs, somewhere around 6 hours.
We left some gifts on the dresser for our host. However, this is probably a good time to talk about “gifts.” See this other blog post about it.
On the way to the Bay of Pigs, we stopped at another paladar. This time the options were ham and cheese sandwiches (bocadillos) and/or beans and rice. This was about the time I started thanking my past self for having packed Clif bars.
I sat up front for a lot of the drive and saw more empty, lonely highways. When you get closer to towns, there are more carteras, so I was able to get photos of tons of them. But generally, it was probably a better idea to just nap.
When we arrived at Playa Giron, there was a museum about the Bay of Pigs, which I opted to skip. Dave went in and took a few photos, but it was mostly about how they won against the American Imperialists.
There was a small beach walking distance from the museum, but we were only given about 30 minutes to swim or sun. Then it was back on the bus to go to Cienfuegos, another 2 hours away. Here’s the beach:
When we arrived at Cienfuegos, it was dark and almost dinnertime. We checked into our Casa Particular, Casa de Dona Amalia, another one where we shared with Tina and Deepak (with our own rooms and bathrooms). The house was a beautiful, colonial home with 20 foot ceilings. This was our room:
We had dinner at a famous restaurant, Paladar Ache, with our whole group and then had a nice walk along the Malecon. We were very lucky that everyone in our group got along really well and we were all able to mingle with each other easily. With only 12 people the group could easily have not flowed as well.
Dave and I headed back after about 15 minutes of walking and went to our Casa. I wanted to have a look on the roof, so we climbed the circular staircase and looked out over the water and the town. You could hear all the sounds of a city: music, talk, laughing, cars. But there was some music that sounded good – it was both live and well put-together. I convinced Dave that we should go find it. 🙂
We wandered down a side street until we found a gate with a security guard. I walked right past him and he beckoned me back saying that we had to pay and pointed at a little guard house. There was a sign saying 25 CUP for nacionales and 3 CUC for touristas (tourists pay 3X what locals pay). We paid and went in and it was a big restaurant/bar with a big live band and tons of people dancing and drinking and singing along. We started dancing and soon blended in. We didn’t stay all that long, but I’m really glad we went and were able to see a real night out on the town.
Now that I’ve been to Cienfuegos, I can say that it’s skippable.
We came back and went to sleep. I got up in the middle of the night and saw the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen…and I grew up in Florida. This thing could have been a housepet. Needless to say, I was glad that I had been in the habit of zipping up my bags before bed each night.