2017
04.06

Shell at the Beach

SYNOPSIS:  ABOUT BEACHES, CHOCOLATE MAKING, AND MINSTRELS.

From town to town we had hoped that the beach would be within reach and we could relax here and there.  Celi envisioned entire days lounging at the beach; for me an hour of swimming and an hour before and after sounded good enough.  But nowhere so far has the beach been within easy reach.  Our only beach-day happened because we had a driver in Havana and passed Santa Maria, a famous beach on the way from our visit to an artist couple’s home in Guanabo.

Even here in Baracoa where we can see the ocean from our rooftop, it takes 30-45 minutes by car to get to a “good” or white beach.  A local beach at the end of town has black sand and is small, but usable and perfectly adequate in a pinch (even if without much shade).  The so-called good beach does not live up to the expectations one might have when you compare it to the famous beaches at the North coast of Cuba, which have often been converted to resort towns, some exclusively set aside for foreigners.  But it had its own charm.

A small restaurant was located there that had set up wooden chairs for its visitors, free of charge.  We arrived around 11:30. Lunch orders were placed and shortly thereafter, the fresh fish was delivered right into the small kitchen.  You could have anything from grilled fish to lobster, fresh off a fishing boat.  A few wind- and hurricane-swept palm trees provided shade.  The water was shallow forever, and swimming, the way I like it, right into the big waves, was impossible.  The waves broke way too far out to even get there.  If you had your own snorkeling equipment, some coral reefs could provide additional fun.  We had to be content with walking up and down the virgin shoreline.  There was an endless array of small corals, shells, or rounded multi-colored beach glass to be picked up.  A few local women made the rounds trying to sell cacao oils, necklaces and an assortment of other stuff. 

The day went and I have to say, I wouldn’t mind another one of them, but we have to move on.

Infotur, one of the local travel agencies, organized the trip to the beach via a collectivo, or shared taxi.  I had reserved two spots for this trip and mentioned it to the German couple Bernd and Karin we had met on the bus from Cienfuegos, and the American couple Rebecca and Steve whom I had met here waiting in line at the bank.  So the six of us were reunited for this trip in one of those old American jeeps.  And since the agency had us by the neck, they added an involuntary stop on the way out to demonstrate chocolate making for us.  After all, this is the chocolate producing town of Cuba and the actual factory is closed to visitors.  I did not mind the stop, but once again, we were not told or even asked.  The hope of course is, that we buy something.  And we did.  This is not the ordinary chocolate you typically purchase at a store, but the pure paste pressed into bars or rolled into balls used for cooking, or for chocolate drinks.

We were exhausted from all this relaxing.  We had barely enough energy for an hour of traditional music at the local Trova, a word roughly translated as Troubadours or Minstrels.  Every city seems to have at least one Trova with a “house band” and visiting troupes.  Some are more famous than others, but it is hard to find really bad musicians around here.  I wish I could dance…  For the most part I am resigning myself to watching the graceful, sensuously slow or frantically fast movements of the experts.  Dance is engrained into Cuban culture.  You see even little kids moving their bodies like pros. 

After that the Germans and the two of us headed down to a highly recommended sea-side restaurant on the somewhat desolate and run-down malecon, named Marco Polo, for a delicious meal.  It was too dark to see the ocean, but you could hear the waves breaking at the lava rock that lined the shore and you could smell the sea.  What could be better.

Book in her hand and computer on my lap, Celi and I zonked out at some point, fully dressed, on our beds…  Relaxing all day is exhausting, indeed.

Good night.

4 comments so far

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  1. I could stay on the beach all day…as long as there is some shade to escape to occasionally. Nothing like the sounds, sights and smells of the beach. Something atavistic…irresistible. And it sure as hell beats discussing the politics of our country or any other country for that matter.
    Aghhhh…I wish I were there now.

  2. Hola and I must say that my dear ET overstates my need for the beach…I do enjoy it though when the chance comes up! I would be a crispy mess if it was an everyday thing : )
    Thanks!

  3. I like beaches, too, but an hour or two will do it for me. Unless it is comfortable enough to take a nap.

  4. Nice to have a relaxed and happy day to catch your breath before moving on to another adventure.