February 14

Cienfuegos Cuba – My Best Cuban Town


Arriving in Cienfuegos Cuba after two long, bumpy Viazul bus rides from Vinales was a pleasant eye opener. It looked different and felt different from the cities we’d visited. It was cleaner, less run down and the house colours more muted.


The sadness of Cuba was still present. The people have been abused for so long and what they need is a leader who gives them hope and a vision. Surviving from day to day is not a life.

I was still suffering from a very mean tummy bug that had given me the worse diarrhoea I’d had in my life. Over the previous 2 days I’d eaten nothing. I’d drunk 2 Cokes and a litre or so of water as the Aztec Revenge swept through my system. I still felt weak and fuzzy headed.

After the foul toilet and offensive behaviour of the staff at the Viazul bus station in Havana arriving in Cienfuegos Cuba was a delight.

The taxi driver found our casa regulares (home stay) after a few stops and enquiring and a hug and a kiss from some ladies. The Cuban people are certainly very friendly and engaging.

I was slowly recovering so for supper I ate a few slices of dry bread and had a glass of fresh juice. The following day for breakfast the same as dinner but with some fresh fruit and a little honey and jam. This did not provide enough fuel for our walk to the town centres and I felt completely out of it. Every step became exhausting. My eyes couldn’t focus and I was jittery and weak.

Not enjoying the busy street and the activity. We sat in the park, I took a few photographs and slowly made our way back to our casa regulares in 42nd Street.

The buildings in Cienfuegos look different. The architecture more French than Spanish. The colours more pastel than vibrant. The character calmer and more relaxed.

El Nicho Valley

We took an organised trip arranged through Cabanacan. The six hour trip were made up of two hours of travelling, about one and a half hours of free time, a 45-minute tour through the park and about an hour for lunch. The local cocktail is certainly worth trying.

The drive was interesting, we drove through Camanayagua a dairy and coffee area and stopped in a town where the business seemed to be horses.

Many houses in Cuba do not have glass pane windows but instead have metal louvres. These are very practical as they let in air ... but in mosquito areas also the mosquitoes!

There are many houses been renovated and some even include a small shop. Although right next door can be a very neglected and shabby place.

The roads are potholed and repairs are done in a very superficial way. There are many cork palms which are the national tree of Cuba. They provide wood for housing, the leaves for roofs, berries for the food for pigs and the centre spear food for people.

There are also many trees that look similar to the South African baobab. One very appealing feature of many houses are the rocking chairs on the front veranda.

We had some interesting discussions with other visitors. It is clear that Cuba has a lot to do to build a viable and attractive holiday market. In many situations with colectivo taxis people have felt vulnerable and uncomfortable. It appears that the only priority is to make a fast buck without any consideration of the long term consequences. Very low wages have driven people to take irresponsible decisions.

Lessons Learned

  • There is hope for Cuba to dig itself out of history.
  • The freedom to do this should be in the hands of the people not ideological politicians clinging on to some failed strategy.



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