Rum, bloodsports, bikes, homes vs houses, and a birthday dinner with friends. The sights and sounds of our non-cycling rest day in Baracoa were colourful.
We started our rest day by heading to the center of town for a coffee to see what we see and people-watch. We sat beside a table of exuberant young well-dressed men happily drinking rum from a bottle at their outside patio table as we sipped coffee just trying to fully wake up. Full on Salsa music blasted from the establishment behind us. It’s not a subdued atmosphere here. By the way, we made the curious observation that you can purchase rum in tetra packs, the size of single serving juice packs. Not quite sure how they’d re-seal in the event that one doesn’t wish to drink 5 oz of rum. Nevermind. We aren’t Cuban so it’s not for us to know.
Later we meandered along the towns edge admiring the architecture, the sights and sounds. Into my peripheral awareness came the sound of squawking chickens. I glanced over and my immediate assessment was that two chickens were “having an argument of sorts”. Randy, being much more astute than I am in the early morning hours, quickly informed me of a far more barbarous reality. They were cockfighting. Cringing and wanting to unsee it, I wished I could somehow run over and set those chickens free.
The bicycles we see everyday would be worthy of their own photo essay. By necessity, people creatively repurpose bicycle parts to make them function. Just stop and look closely at any bicycle and you’ll appreciate their resourcefulness. There are little shops scattered around with the odd bicycle part for sale, but it’s clear that the bicycles are much like the cars. Ancient, well-loved and utilitarian.
We’ve noticed that during the day almost every house opens its front door and it remains open all day. We hear laughter and chatter both inside and out, grandma’s and grandpa’s are rocking grand babies on their laps, kids are playing ball, and neighbours are talking. Frequently buildings appear dilapidated and one is left to wonder about building code requirements. But no matter….these Cubans make real homes out of these houses.
Tonight, in honour of Randy’s Birthday we had dinner with what now feels like old friends Warren and Sarah and their two beautiful daughters Sophia and Charlotte. We laughed, talked and I commiserated with Charlotte about how each of us has a mental block around eating Cuban pizza now after our own independently experienced Episodes. The crust however, was good. they shared their story about how they’d been newly arrived in Havana during the recent tornado that struck so they’d experienced it and witnessed the damage firsthand. We had to say goodbye to our new friends tonight as we are rolling out tomorrow and they will stay a few more days. We’re hoping they’ll come visit us in Cobourg some day so we can hear about their upcoming adventures in Equador.