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Cienfuegos 26th

Once we were all stirring aboard yesterday, we asked if it would be possible to come alongside the pontoons to get fuel and water, and this seemed to be no problem so we started up, picked up the anchor and made our way towards the pontoons. Joandree the manager met us and we berthed at the fuel berth whilst several of the charter boats left, many having already done so. The marina is in fact relatively empty but many of the berths are not available other than for the charter companies. We took fuel and water and, it transpired, that we could stay at the fuel berth for the time being in any case. The showers and loos were a little disappointing in that the loos seemed blocked and the showers were cold and only really a dangling, dirty hose with no shower head. I bought a local sim card and a walking tour of the town was organised by Christine which we set off on at around 0930 with the incoming marina manager.


We were taken to a beautiful house, now operating as a restaurant / bar and looked around, it had been built in the early 20th century by a Spanish plantation owner who lost his fortune during the 1st world war when the sugar price collapsed and died of heart attack with the stress having only enjoyed it for 3 years. Any of you on the wattsapp group should be able to see pictures of it from yesterday.  We then took a motorbike taxi into town, a mile along the road along a dual carriageway / promenade and looked around. It’s a very different town to Santiago, laid out on a grid and quite ornate. We went into two types of shops, one available to all where only pesos are taken and the other where credit cards are used and goods bought in dollars. There is a big difference but there doesn’t appear to be ordinary shops one could go into to buy what we would expect. The normal shops have really very little in them, maybe 6-10 types of goods and not many of those so maybe bananas, tomatoes, toothpaste, coke, and one or two other arbitrary things, often several shops selling similar types of stuff are in a ‘mercado’ type of building whilst the credit card ones seem to keep booze, whisky, rum, etc along with soap, toiletries, and then other arbitrary grocery lines like cans of beans, olives, some frozen meat of indeterminate style, jars of asparagus and not much else.  The petrol stations seem to keep the best selection with staples like flour and rice.


The main square had the town hall, casino, theatre, and church on its four sides, all ornate, fine buildings. The whole town is desperate for money to be spent on maintenance, grand but crumbling, it’s reminiscent of Budapest when I first went there about 30 years ago. We went into an ordinary peso store which was split into two, a government side and a free enterprise side where we bought, from the government side, some plastic bowls for 16 pesos or 3 pence each, on the other side more cheerful stuff like clothes, shoes etc were on sale, probably locally made or adapted but I loved the shelves on the walls which went up to the ceiling at about 20 feet and had steps going to them on a kind of overhead rail with a wheel so the steps could be moved anywhere along the wall. 


Anyway from here the marina manager pocketed his dollars and left us with a recommendation for a lunch spot and we very nearly got to it before Christine managed to start a conversation with a local who took us to a completely different one, he turned out to be the Cuban judo and olympic champion from the 90s or something. Anyway we had another nice lunch and wandered back to the boat along the promenade stopping here and there for  beers / mojitos to keep us going.  


We had arranged to go to the ornate plantation owner’s house for dinner at 1800 so had a good but similar meal to others there in fine surroundings before stopping at a little cocktail bar and having some mojitos and chatting to the crew off a Dutch Topsail Schooner at anchor in the bay. They are a ‘High school of the High Seas,’ being a ship that takes about fifty 16-18 year olds away for 7 months, teaching them all the normal German school stuff but in a maritime environment. It all sounded good fun, I’d suspect half of the crew would be volunteers with a core of professionals. A great way to go to school I’d think. Sue, Christine, Colin and I then ended up at the theatre in town which was a sort of night club with very good audience members and a compere taking it in turns to sing whilst many of the audience danced, we were made very welcome and had a good time doing our own version of dad dancing. I went to the loo and was caught out with no pesos as we have been operating a kitty which I didn’t hold and didn’t have anything smaller than a 5 euro note for the attendant. Doubtless she was happy with that!


Today Trinidad is on the cards with a friend or nephew of the Judo champion.


Jock and the Havana Laugh gang

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margogonggrijp
margogonggrijp
27 feb

Would love pictures! How do I get to the whatsapp group?

Margo

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