21 Degrees North travel blog





February 19, 2013 Tuesday

What an interesting day as we left Vinales. It was sad to leave the Casa Particular and Nene, who seemed bemused by the lot of us. “Our man in Havana”, Leo arranged transportation this morning to the beach at Jibacoa, I think east of Habana, but I am turned around. We piled into a three seat car with all of our luggage and three men and took off. Passed by Habana and arrived at a new Casa Particular run by Idalmis and Aresky. I believe that we are their first guest so they are getting a feel for what to provide. The Atlantic is at our doorstep, the colors of the water flashing blue, green and white. A man brought by lobster freshly caught that we will have for dinner. There is a fishing rod in a corner of our room. Licenses, smishenses. Barb, Peg and I went with Aresky to an all-inclusive resort up the coast to seek out internet. Success and you’ve received our updates. Peggy is back to being relaxed. Cribbage before bed. BarbM

February 20, 2013 Wednesday

Woke to a beautiful, sunny day. After breakfast I explored the village, for that is what it is. There are goats, cows and chickens wandering the dirt roads. We have identified the elusive churkey, an amazing fowl that seems a cross between a turkey and chicken. I will try to get a picture to post. We were reluctant to ask what is as were afraid that it would end up as dinner due to my poor Spanish and our host wanting to “exceed our expectations”. The shoreline is very rocky, very sharp volcanic rock. Thank goodness for sturdy Keens to protect feet. Saw Chitons and some shells. The water is so clear and warm, can’t wait to swim later. Up the coast there are white sandy beaches, but I think that the snorkeling will be very interesting here. There have been boats out fishing and a couple of scuba divers harvesting this morning. There are so many birds, it’s lovely to hear them sing and squabble. A huge hummingbird flew by me and sounded like a jet engine. This one was non-descript gray. Back in Vinales at the local garden that we toured we saw beautifully colored, tiny hummingbirds that darted so fast I couldn’t get a good picture. Ah well, the breeze is blowing, a goat is bleating and the palm trees are dancing. What a day. The snorkeling was fabulous. It felt like being in a very expensive aquarium with a huge variety of colorful fish. I am sure that we ate some for dinner. BarbM

Spending the day rather lazily today, after a rather interesting trip from Vinales to wherever we are presently. We arranged a van to take us and our luggage and were assured that there would be “plenty of room, no problem.” What arrived was a Jeep Cherokee type vehicle, which already came equipped with 3 men who were no pixies, along for the ride to help us with our luggage. The 8 of us crammed in, with two men holding luggage which wouldn’t fit in the back, Barb M shoehorned in beside them. No A/C, few functioning windows, and canned salsa muzak for the next 5 hours. The good thing is that these vehicles seem to confuse “the precious” into thinking that we are hiking over the mountains, so by the time we arrived, it said I had taken over 14000 steps and 1600 stairs. Arrived at a tiny village on the coast, which a house facing the sea. The sea breeze is delightful, giving us a welcome break from the otherwise hot, humid weather. Considering we were freezing a few days ago, it is a wonderful environment.

Today Peggy and I went on a hike through goat trails, cow trails and possible chicken trails along the coast. The shore is quite rocky, with lots of barnacles, urchins and other sharp pointy things in the water, but we are hoping to (carefully) get into the water this afternoon and snorkel. The reefs look interesting, and I enquired about local Tiburon (shark) and was assured that if I found one, I should catch it and we could eat it later.

Successful snorkeling adventure! The water here on the Atlantic side was wonderfully warm. The snorkeling was fabulous, with lots of small fish, wonderful coral varieties and perhaps the biggest sea urchins I have ever seen. They were at least 18 inches in diameter including spines. Beautiful, but we gave them a wide berth. Barbara G

We are the first guests at this casa so tonight when we were presented with the bill they left it blank and asked us to fill in the blanks. Barb Mandic and I created a Word file menu for them with a nice picture and the prices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks etc. Our host is going to print it out when he goes to his “real” job tomorrow. They are such nice people and so eager to please us. The minute we say we like something they run out to get it. I think if we said we like elephant meat they would hit up the zoo in Havana. Peggy

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