Friday, 17 June 2011

Baracoa, my favourite place in Cuba.

Many moons ago I received an email inviting me to a tournament in Baracoa. It was the first time I had heard of the place and so I Googled it.  This is where Christopher Columbus first landed although this is disputed.

He proclaimed this the most beautiful place on Earth and in that time it is easy to believe. He is said to have planted a Cross here and this is supposedly that Cross.

 In 1511 Baracoa was officially founded and pronounced the first capital of Cuba. Until the revolution there was no road linking this area with the rest of Cuba and it still seems like another country. People here are very friendly but not as intrusive as in other places. The town centre is charming.

The Church in the background is being restored as are many other things because in August the city is celebrating it's 500th birthday.

Our "Casa". 

An unfinished project.

Town hall I think.

And this was the children's playground before it was destroyed by a hurricane. Much of the town was damaged and has as yet not been rebuilt. Despite it's desolate appearance Baracoa was my favourite place in Cuba. The first night we went to see a concert by the famous Reggae-ton artist Chocolate (pronounced Choco-latte). For some reason after one of the greatest live shows I have ever seen, comparable with screaming Jay Hawkins decades ago, the Band came out of the Club and I found myself in a photo op with the band. I hesitate to publish it but...

I did take some Videos but they turned out unusable. One disappointment was the beach. It looks very nice and has fantastic development potential but we were told not to go swimming because the water was filthy.

We had to drive about 15km out of town but it was worth it. Next to the road we saw a lot of these strange looking plants.

Finally we made it to a beach which at first sight looked deserted

 but as soon as we pulled up locals started appearing out of the trees and offered us fresh Coconuts, Pineapples and Banana's. One young lad scurried up a tree and cut come coconuts for us as we watched.

The water was also very inviting.

After a swim and a fruit feast for next to nothing we went back to town and I went to the Barber shop because I was unable to find any disposable razors.

A haircut, shave and face massage costs 5 peso (24peso=1$US). Leaving a whole dollar will leave your Barber smiling. A fellow on the street insisted I photograph his head.

Next I felt like some Chess and headed over to the local club where I played some blitz. My first opponent asked me if I knew how to use the clock but very soon they found out that they were not dealing with just another tourist :-). Some of the youngsters were quite talented and one nearly got a draw. I can now say I played in Baracoa and won every single game. hehe. Anyway, to sum up, Baracoa is a place I could very easily hang around in for weeks, maybe months. It is a very relaxed place and I can imagine spending evenings blitzing and mornings on the beach. I do hope they organize a tournament here one day and if not I'll just have to come for a vacation. Two days was definitely not enough but we had a plane to catch and some other things to see before that.

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