From the Marlin Nautica y Marinas we had a lovely view of Cienfuegos, Cuba and were anxious to stretch our legs and see the sights.
First stop was to the nearby hotel where we could cambiar dinero (to exchange money). Walking to the hotel we had our first encounter with Cuban art in this sculpture park.
Back past the marina, we admired a mural which became our daily backdrop starting out the 20 minute walk into the city.
Walking down the promenade alongside the lovely Bahia de Cienfuegos, it didn’t take long to notice that the clean, well maintained streets were nearly empty. We started to get that feeling that we had traveled back through time as the few cars that passed were older than our generation might appreciate. Several bicycling taxis asked if we wanted a lift and we politely replied, “No, gracias!”
Many of the homes along this stretch were adorned with intricate metalwork.
When we neared town, the center opened wide into a large pedestrian walk.
On either side of the pedestrian walk the street was lined with apartments, small shops, and restaurants. Peeking into open doors or windows we saw barren, tile floored rooms in which a couch and or dining set were arranged. Many of the rooms extended into courtyards. The shops were very small and their supplies seemed limited for example; eggs and bread, soft drinks and vegetable oil, or pharmacy type products were spotted from our glancing. Some shops had lines of customers out front and most had none. Street vendors carried pineapples, mangos, bananas, fish, or baked goods on their bicycles. Some restaurants offered dining room seating, they were all empty, and some were just a cashier’s counter with a pizza oven behind. The street pizzas were on our list to try, but what we were really in search of was soft serve ice cream.
After turning onto a pedestrian only side-street, we’d nearly missed the soft serve ice cream since the narrow doorway was blocked by a line of people. We spotted the ice cream cone sign which listed fresa (strawberry) and chocolate (chocolate). Once it was our turn in line, Brian and I were ready to order one each to sample both flavors. We approached the counter, a folding table with a money box atop, and cleverly said our pre-rehearsed, “una fresa y uno chocolate.” The man behind the soft serve handle replied, “no,” and swirled his finger in the air. We deducted from his sign language and the ice cream cones in our vicinity that the two flavors were mixed. “Ok, dos!” The rumbling soft serve machine churned out two delicious cones!
Chowing down on our sweet treat, we walked ourselves into the center of Cienfuegos. We found a well manicured park in the center. Many of the buildings around the perimeter of the park were government buildings as well as some shops.
We strolled through this street market. Many beautiful, handcrafted items were for sale. The merchants weren’t pushy; they were happy to tell us about the quality of their item and negotiate a price. They made wooden cars, wooden mini-sculptures, wooden children’s toys, jewelry, leather shoes, leather belts, leather handbags, and aluminum can airplanes and ball caps.
The pedestrian street and park square were visited by us many times during our visit to Cienfuegos.
We ventured onto many side streets throughout Cienfuegos too. Some were more run-down than others. People everywhere were kind and good humored; they were very patient with our broken Spanish and pleased to chat with us. In the evenings, when the 80-degree temperatures cooled, more people would take to the streets to sit and socialize with one another. Old cars (I know Dad is drooling) became commonplace right along with horse drawn carriages.
We stumbled upon a beautiful Catholic Church.
This was “taxi row” as each of the cars had a TAXI sign neatly displayed in the windshield.
We tried not to miss the colors and the details of Cienfuegos while we were learning a new culture and practicing an unfamiliar language.
Yes, that’s a chicken. Chickens were everywhere and I supposed this boy either wanted a new pet or a tasty dinner.