Up early and the bus to Baracoa. About half of the bus was sick and we had to stop several times for people to get off and throw up. Things eventually settled down and we settled in for the long bus ride. We rode past Guantanamo Bay and were warned not to take any pictures – earlier busses had been stopped and film confiscated. We eventually stopped at an amazing “beach.” It was actually uplifted coral – very ragged and sharp.
We finally got to Baracoa – the town was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. It had no land accessibility until a road was driven through in 1960. Many very old buildings and “the anvil” – an anvil shaped mountain – in the background.
We visited the local cathedral where they have the remains of the first cross raised in Cuba – still preserved behind glass. The town was quite amazing. Lots of local artists and craftspeople. Many stalls selling food had a pig head hanging above the counter – mainly to keep flies away (so we were told). As we walked the street we passed a bakery where they were handing out cake – there must have been 50 feet of cake with icing that people were carrying away plates and bags full. Not sure what it was all about but an amazing sight!
We were taken to a second floor home stay with a nice pink room, and then wandered the town for a bit. Very complex place – a lot of old Soviet era buildings mixed in with the colonial Spanish. Many with laundry hanging outside. We got to see the statue of Hatuey – the Cuban native who was burned at the cross because he refused to convert to Catholicism. When offere to go to heaven if he would convert, he was reported to have said “If there are people like you there, I don’t want to go.”
Visited the harbor – basically empty but a large wreck right off shore. We stopped in the local fort that had been turned into a restaurant and had a couple drinks. A fly landed on the bar and sucked up some of the spilled rum – it sure looked drunk!
Then we met the group and had dinner together. A guy brought in a sea turtle for us to look at. Food was OK. Then a group of us stopped in at a local bar, listened to some music, had a drink or three, then headed off to sleep