We were really enjoying Cuba and it was hard to believe that one week had already passed. We could have easily stayed longer, but had to get underway to keep up with our master travel plan. The forecast was in our favor and so we enjoyed one last afternoon and evening in Cienfuegos.
It was a Saturday and the pedestrian walkway was bustling as Brian and I made our way through to the market to provision for our trip.
Our guidebooks had warned us that we’d not easily find produce or food supplies in Cuba; on the contrary produce was quite plentiful and the small grocery stores were well stocked with dried goods and snacks (pastas, pasta sauce, cooking oil, vinegar, crackers, peanut butter, honey, chips, drinks, etc.). I wouldn’t recommend reprovisioning here, but certainly we were able to find the basics. Additionally, the Mercado Municipal (municipal market) was priced in Pesos. We spent a whopping $2.00 on our purchase of: one pineapple, four cucumbers, two tomatoes, one 1lb bunch of green bananas (yup, couldn’t get enough), one bunch green beans, four carrots, and one cabbage.
Wish we had a fridge…the meat couldn’t get any more fresh! And so many choices of produce!
Back at the marina, we stowed away our food and then informed the marina that we’d depart the following day, which was a Sunday. Customs does not operate on Sundays, but they were happy to complete our despatcho (clearance paperwork) that afternoon. We were able to clear-out with Immigration, the Guarda Frontera, and the marina on Sunday. There are clear-out fees also, $20 total for the various offices. The Guarda Frontera actually saw us off on Sunday afternoon and reminded us that we weren’t allowed to stop in the bay for any reason and must proceed directly out.
We had our food, we’d started our clearing out process, and we’d topped off the water tanks. Phew, it had fast approached beer-o-clock. Brian and I enjoyed the hour with our newfound friend, Luki (sv/Skebenga). We bellied up to the bar for cold, tall, Crystal draft beers and were soon joined by Matt and Jessica (sv/Serendipity), and another couple, Roger and Sasha (sv/Edenbal), also a marina neighbor. Beer-o-clock soon became beer-several-hours as we chatted away. It’s always hard to say goodbye to fellow cruisers, we instantaneously become ‘ol pals since we’ve so much in common and so many stories to share.
Dinnertime was approaching, and we had a double date with Serendipity. We’d waited all week to try a restaurant that we’d passed each time we walked into town. We referred to it as “the balcony restaurant” each time we reminded ourselves that we must go there. The restaurant’s true name was Dona Nora and it was too bad for us that we hadn’t tried it earlier in the week. For starters our host/waiter/bartender was fabulous! He spoke English well and answered all of our questions about the traditional cuban foods we found on the menu. The prices were remarkably affordable; we enjoyed a three course meal and then coffee and dessert! Fresh salads, savory creams, and hearty entrees were the perfect send-off. Not to mention this Cuban drink (I hope I’m spelling it correctly, it took the entire walk home to pronounce and remember it), canchancera. None of us recall the type of alcohol which was unfamiliar to us, but it was combined with lemon and honey and tasted like a cough drop.
That evening my friend, Dirty Dog, met us at the docks. I gave him a thorough, farewell scratching and patting. I also offered him a cracker in which he took no interest. What dog, especially street dog, doesn’t take a cracker when he can get one!? Maybe he was just being polite. Brian gave Dirty Dog a stern talking-to explaining that any found stowaways (with the exception of birds) would immediately walk the plank.
We were tucked into our slip with full bellies, buzzing heads, and wonderful Cuban experiences!