|Sunday 2 February to Baracoa
Nearing the end of the long ride down to the south – we head for the mountains via a stop on the Caribbean coast.
The route took us through Guantanamo – a fairly modern town where we only stopped for a drink and to pick up a sandwich for lunch. Up to here we had seen further sugar and banana plantations but as we started to leave the town behind the landscape became more arid. This area has also had its share of hurricanes – 3 in the recent past which have helped denude the mountains of flora and leaving 1 million people homeless. The newer houses are now built of brick and have tin roofs.
Climbing a little way out of town we could look back at Guantanamo Bay and were able to take photos from the bus without stopping. The place is heavily guarded by Cuban police and the land is mined on both sides of the frontier. Cuban police are anxious that nothing happens hear or on this road as they belive the US is only waiting for a small opportunity to use as an excuse to invade.
We stopped at a beach for lunch but the waves were really high and quite dangerous. And then we really started to climb. The road was built by a Cuban architect imprisoned by Castro. His family escaped to the US. Castro wanted to reward the people of Baracoa for their loyalty during the rebellion and a road had never been built before through the high mountain ranges meaning the only way to approach the town was by sea and it was therefore very cut off from the rest of the country. With the promise of his freedom and being able to leave Cuba to join his family, the architect built this fantastic road which twists and turns up to 1350 mtrs and is really the only way to get to Baracoa even today.
The climate is very hot and humid as can be seen by the lush vegetation around. It is famous for its cuisine as it has so many plants to flavour their cooking.
Out hotel is high on a hill overlooking the town and used to be an American fortress. It’s quite fine with an outdoor bar and pool and the first for days with wifi – if anybody could get it to work!
In the evening I went with the group and they were able to sample a few of the special dishes although what I was given was not so great.