Rest Day in Guanabo
Mariel to La Mulata

May 31, 2015

What happened…

Andrew writes:

I’m not sure what I was expecting today. I think part of me wanted to do a bit of a tour through La Habana, just so that I could say that I saw it, and then wouldn’t need to see it again next week when we return. I’m kind of getting “citied” out. They all look the same to me, and there isn’t a lot to fascinate me. That didn’t happen today though. The ride to La Habana was pretty quick and painless, on the busy Via Blanca road, and it took us around the main Centro Historico, although it did take us past the Ciudad Deportivo which looks like it is, or was for, the Olympics maybe? At one point I thought I saw a sign with the rings on it, but I don’t ever remember Cuba hosting them in the past. Still, the infrastructure was impressive, by Cuban standards, with a big baseball diamond, and a stadium, and some other playing fields. Our ride also took us through Miramar, and we stopped and took a picture of the Canadian embassy.

After La Habana, traffic virtually disappeared once we entered Artemisa province. The road became flat, but the scenery kept me occupied. To my right was the coastline, with whitecaps and waves and what not. To my left, a big thunder and lightning show from an approaching storm, that we never had the displeasure of getting to experience up close and personal. Before I knew it, the ride was over, and we reached Mariel without any misfortune.

There was a seedy part to my afternoon. While Amanda was showering at the Casa, I went to see if I could find cigars; a vice that I’ve picked up here in Cuba, since they cost 1 peso ($0.05CDN) and they don’t taste half-bad. So I walk down the street to a cafeteria and ask if they have any, and they don’t…I’m about to leave when the woman behind the counter hops over it, and beckons me to the door. She points down the street to where I can see two women talking outside of a house. She tells me to go and talk to the old woman who owns the home. I walk over and start talking. The woman goes inside and brings me two cigars, which I buy for twice the usual price – 2 pesos each! Then the other woman, middle-aged, pleasant enough to look at I suppose, starts talking to me rapidly in Spanish. She had on a wonderful shade of blue eyeshadow, and definitely a pound or two of mascara. I ask her to slow down, and she asks me if I’m staying alone. I’m not certain why, but I felt a small surge of exhilaration (?) or maybe curiosity, or I’m not sure. It felt nice to be propositioned, and the shadiness of my previous transaction left me feeling a bit of a thrill, as if I was on the wrong side of the tracks. Maybe I should have strung her along a little bit to see how far the charade could go, because I’m curious about the whole Cuban sex-trade, but at the same time I’m so naive. I think I turned beet-red while talking about my beautiful wife, and then executed a hasty retreat back to the “right side of the tracks”.

One of my highlights today was dinner. It was at Restaurante Don Carabello, here in Mariel. It looks like a persons house, but inside it’s all business. We knocked on the door, a hostess answered and took us to a table, and then we ordered our food. The menu seemed extensive, with pretty much everything offered “w/ham & cheese”. I started with a flan, that unlike every other flan I’ve tried in Cuba, actually tasted like a flan should! Then Amanda and I each had our first Cuban boneless chicken experience, covered and smothered of course, in the aforementioned meat and cheese. The cheese was excellent! Something German I believe the chef said. He actually came around to each table, including ours, after we were served to check on us to see if we were enjoying the food. This was a nice touch. The menu was in pesos, but we forgot to bring ours, and we were able to pay in CUC, $10.25 when it was all said and done. We got “gringo’d” for $0.25 on the bill, but I considered this the tip and away we went. We finished off with another helping of dessert at a nearby ice cream stand.

So we get back to the Casa and Amanda goes to get ready for bed, and I end up talking with Raul, the Casa owner. He speaks some English, but mostly Spanish, and ends every sentence with, ”Entiende?” (en-tee-en-day: do you understand?). So we’re talking and he goes into a room and comes back and hands me some boxing gloves. He has a pair for himself and he starts putting them on, so I start putting on my pair too. I’m a little nervous, thinking we’re just going to goof-around in the yard. We get outside, and I don’t entirely understand what he’s saying, but it’s to the effect of:

Raul: Ok, stand there. I’ll stand here.
Andrew: Erm…ok…
Raul: Right, now hit me here (his jaw) as hard as you can and then I’ll hit you next.
Andrew: I’m afraid.
Raul: You’re afraid? Of what??
Andrew: Of hitting you!
Raul: Ahhh, yes, problem. I’ll just move over here where I’ll have more room in case you knock me down. Ok, now go!
Andrew: I want my Mommy!

My Spanish vocabulary is pretty limited, and I don’t know how to say, “I’m a big wuss.” Raul went back inside and got some pads which he put on his hands, and we did end up goofing around in the yard for a bit, and talking about stuff. It was nice, all manly and stuff. Thank goodness I didn’t get concussed.

Today’s Photographs

Rest Day in Guanabo
Mariel to La Mulata