|Santiago was a ruff city but one filled with good music and for this reason, I enjoyed my experiences there. For the next leg of our spring break trip, we took a 6 hour bus to the last city on the east coast of Cuba; Baracoa. In reality, this bus trip could have been a 4 hour bus ride if the drivers didn’t stop every 20 minutes to either say hello to someone, buy something (probably off the black market) or pick up a Cuban heading in the same direction we were heading. I imagine this was a regular occurrence because the estimated arrival time on the bus schedule is set at 6 hours after departure. I wasn’t too happy about this inefficiency but what can you do. It’s Cuba. There isn’t much you can do or complain about because there is no other competitor in the market to give the consumer a choice based on service. Usually, you get what you pay for but here, you get whatever you get and there is nothing you can do.
Baracoa was just plain different. Hands down, the best food I have had thus far on this island and the nicest people. It was the complete opposite of Santiago de Cuba were I was on edge 24/7 anticipating a hustler or perhaps a slick robber. The entire city was as small as playa Girón and very walkable. It was the exact same weather as Accra – very hot around noon but the temperature drops during the night and the wee hours of the morning. Most of Cuba’s cocoa which seems unavailable on the island is grown here. I assume most of the cocoa is exported because I sure as hell have yet had a single cocoa product in Havana. In Baracoa though, I had hot chocolate for breakfast, cold chocolate at the casa de chocolate when the heat got unbearable and chocolate bars as snacks. It was an enjoyable chocolate overload.
Baracoa was one of the first locations in the Caribbean Christopher Columbus landed on but in its hay day, it was habited by the Russians (or a Russian lady. I was unclear by the information given by the museum) who used this town as a major trade city between the Caribbean and Europe. I also learned that there was a Russian lady that lived there, owned a hotel and supported the Cuban revolution a lot with funds. This might be one of the reasons why Cuba aligned with the USSR after its revolution but who knows.
Top sites for me here were the only club in the town which was built on top of a hill, Casa de Chocolate and the town center. I vote Baracoa as a must go place and id be more than happy to return here at a point in time in the future. As far as the food goes, there was a really good sauce, leche de coco, that the lady of our house used to cook fish made from coconut milk. I took down the recipe to re-create it later at home. Nothing much else to say about Baracoa except the food was amazing, the people were friendly, I didn’t feel hustled at all and best of all, it had an European feel with multiple plazas.