Travels with V
A hundred fires, sea and dance
To continue on from Santa Clara, there are a couple of options. Many choose the road south to Trinidad, but we have the sea port of Cienfuegos in mind. It’s a bright and friendly city by a wide bay, shooting out a narrow strip of land straight into the sea. An avenue leads down the peninsula through green gardens with beautiful villas and old Yatch club houses to the very tip, called Punta Gorda. And that’s where we head, to Camila’s, a fantastic paladar with a balcony facing the sea, and a float bridge with deck chairs. Made for a couple of mojitos.
Not far from Camila’s and Punta Gorda there is an oriental palace with stone lions guarding the entrance. It was built by a “sugar baron”, made super rich by the sugar boom Cuba experienced in the early 20th century. It’s now a restaurant and has a rooftop bar with fantastic views of the ocean on all sides. Rumour has it that Batista’s brother wanted to turn the palace into a gambling hall, but thankfully that didn’t happen.
Cienfuegos city center is also extremely nice, with its colonial style houses, a teeming life and a green main square. When we walk there we hear music from a street nearby. A rope across the street shuts out all traffic, and beyond it people are dancing wildly to a salsa band.
And speaking of music, Cienfuegos has seen at least one megastar grow up on its streets. The singer Benny Moré, who had his first hits in Mexico in the 1940s. And ten years later the Cuban audiences took him to their hearts. Today his statue walks on the main street in Cienfuegos, equipped with his most iconic gadget, a short walking stick. In his time the popular music fashion was the Mambo.
Now that we can see and smell the ocean we are yearning for some beach life. So we head over to Playa Rancho Luna, along the south eastern part of the bay. It’s a huge beach with restaurants and kiosks, and we find a free parasol and can relax in the clear salt water.
From afar they came, the Scandinavians, attracted by promises of a new life on the paradise island. But their dreams were short-lived. Come with us to pioneer land in Oriente, next chapter!