I made a 3 day plan for Havana and it fitted very well. So my next spot is Cienfuegos. I was very excited to see Laguna Guanaroca and could not wait for it. Early in the morning, the colectivo, that Alvio has arranged for me, took me from the casa.
I learned that in Cuba, sugar cane is produced the most and most of it is around Cienfuegos. All the ways from Havana to Trinidad and on the way back from Santa Clara to Havana were just green.
Before my Cienfuegos story, I want to talk about my experience regarding the local transportation of the country. Other than taxi, there are Colectivos and bus transport. Colectivo is door to door transport; you give the address to the driver and enjoy your journey. You need to arrange your transport a day before your journey but they have certain hours for transport and you need to choose the one that fits your program.
The bus transport is called Viazul. Again this is operated and managed by the government. Viazul was fine for me just once, from Trinidad to Santa Clara. The rest, I did it with colectivo. Because the process is too long with Viazul. You need to go to the terminal one day in advance and book for the next day. The next day 2 hours before travel time, you need to go to the terminal, wait for the queue, buy the ticket and wait for the bus. All this is a serious waste of time. Plus you arrive to the terminal, not home. On top of all this, I also read that travel times are up to twice as much as the time it takes to drive. Therefore the bus in Cuba is the last choice for me.
When I arrived to Cienfuegos, it was already noon. It took 2,5 hours from Havana. Gloria welcomed me. She is a very nice and lady and very sensitive to the cleanness and tidiness of the house. She know some English, tried to help me a lot about the house and around the city. She takes with care of the hostal together with her daughter Diana. She works in the hospital, I understood that she is a physical therapist, with expertise on babies.
The ‘casa’ has 2 rooms and a small garden. As soon as I left my luggage, I got out for a walk and got back home 1 hour later. As the weather was so hot, I spent some time under the tree shades. After few hours, I walked to the city center. On my way, I saw wide streets, horse-drawn carriages, very discreet cars, American cars, and those framboyant trees that I loved.
And ‘Las Casas’… All single storey casas, some detached, some adjacent. First Spanish, but then the French comes to Cienfuegos. So French style dominates the city. I like these casas much.
Of course, the famous Copelia ice cream maker is also here. The system is the same; people are still queuing at the door and waiting to be taken in certain hours. Cienfuegos also has a Jose Martí park. This is a very nice square where there are many beautiful historic buildings, framboyant and sebia trees. Also the wifi area is also here. This is my favorite wifi point to connect to the internet.
Sebia and Framboyant
When I arrived at the seaside, I watched the wonderful reflections of the clouds into the sea.
For the dinner I preferred delicious special black beens and rice (they make them perfect in Cuba) with grilled chicken and daiquiri .. and it was the night I had a throat problem after that very very cold daiquiri.
The most important warning I have read about Cienfuegos was mosquitoes. In my room, there was mosquito wire mesh outside the windows and inside there was a fiberboard cover to prevent light. The shutters were between the cover and the wire. Because of the hot, I opened the board and the window shutters, and of course I used mosquito repellent, but it didn’t work.
As far as I could see other houses have the same window systems and the interesting thing is that there are no glasses in the windows of these houses. When I realized this in Cienfuegos, I did a flashback and I realised that the ‘casa’ and stayed had no glass too, and Centro Havana in general have no glasses in windows but wooden shutters only.
The next day is Laguna Guanaroca day 😍
It was a very original trip from beginning till the end. In the morning there came a so called taxi but I would say it was a 4-wheeler, 4 door without windows. Fortunately there was an engine under the hood. The driver left me at the entrance and went back to pick me up 2 hours later.
After a short explanation in the entrance, we walked to the small pier where the boats are and on the way the guide gave us some information about the trees and creatures that live in the area. It was only a 5-10-minute short walk.
Then you need to wait for the queue to take the boat. We were totally 9; 4 couples and I. The guide told me that I have to wait for the couples to get in the boat first and as I was on my own. I did not understand the reason …Anyway, I said ok, couples got in the boats and then was my turn. I asked the name of the boatman to the guide and she said ‘Wilfredo’. This was a real surprise. You ask why?
I read about this lake on jennyfaraway blog 🙏 and I planned to go there at that moment. Jenny had shared information about the journey to and from the lake step-by-step, and mentioned the boatman, Wilfredo, who drove her around. Jenny was talking about Wilfredo’s care when he was taking the pictures; not shaking the boat, taking a break when rowing. He cared for me exactly the same. He also suggested taking my photo. In fact, I never thought to ask for it in that little boat in the lake.
We started to glide on the mirror like lake. Wilfredo showed me the blue heron bird perched on the mangroves.. it was a bit far away so I have no photo. After a while, we saw the flamingos and they were flying to the other side of the lake at that moment. All the boats started to paddle to that side slowly. Nearly 10 Pelikans were also there. All the boats stopped at a certain distance and we began to watch this beauty.
On the way back we saw a maraca tree ✌️
We finished our tour around 10:30 and returned 😎
October 21, 2018