Friday 24 March 2017

Cienfuegos 5 – Thursday 23-Friday 24 March

Had a bit of a lie in yesterday after my day out in Trinidad and on rising at about 0930, noticed that my French neighbour Lauren had just returned from his outing to Havana by bus. He’s been away a few days and had asked me to keep an eye on his boat. Thankfully for both of us there were no problems.

Lauren’s a sometimes single hander too (more than me I think) and having spent a year in the Caribbean is heading for Panama at the weekend. We went out for early evening drinks and a snack before rendezvousing in town with a German he had met on the bus. I’ve forgotten his name but another interesting character who has visited Cuba multiple times and despite the challenges obviously loves the place. They both speak Spanish and so I that evening I got a bit of a free ride on the back of their ability to communicate with the locals. Nevertheless, it was a challenge to find an open restaurant. Night-life here is much less developed than in Havana apparently. We found somewhere eventually and despite being the only customers and interesting service, we enjoyed some very good food at reasonable prices – circa £10 per head with a tip. Then we found some great live music at the Theatre Bar - £2 to get in and drinks at standard prices.

Talking of the price of drinks. Early in the day I went shopping to provision for the next step of the journey. It’s a good job I’ve still got plenty of tinned food and pasta and rice on board because food stuff is not easy to find. Guess what was in plentiful supply in all the shops? Yes, rice, pasta and puréed tomatoes and cooking oil; all of which I had ample supplies of already!

I did find cans of beer and a slab of local beer – 24 cans cost about £18 – the same price one pays for a beer in the cheaper bars! It was a bit of a comedy routine buying it though because the shop used the local Peso currency and I had cash in CUC the tourist currency. I did not realise this at first and having established the cost was $18 CUC I could not fathom out why the shop keeper was unable to give me change of a $20 CUC note. Just lots of shaking of heads when I offered the note. Once the penny or should I say peso finally dropped I wondered where I would be able to get Pesos from. The shop keeper was clearly no entrepreneur and was as honest as they come (why not just charge me £20 CUC) because he was quite happy for me to walk away from probably his biggest sale of the week. Being pretty slow witted myself, I nearly did, until it occurred to me that he could surely throw in a few more cans to make the value up to $20 CUC! So four cans of fizzy orange later I struggled out of the shop with a slab of beer, some pasta bases and pack of the soft white rolls that pass for bread here. I also picked up a local cake I think that’s what it is) from a street vendor.

Back on the main road I succumbed to the offer of a bicycle taxi back to the marina. On the way, we stopped off at another supermarket where I bought some rum and a lemon mixer and the only meat products I could find in small quantities – two different types of processed chicken bits in bread crumbs. I expect they will be disgusting but…

That left me with eggs and fresh veg still to get. Both seem to be available at the marina and so I hope I can get some there a bit later.

Other than that, and the need to clear with customs and immigration which I also hope to do shortly, I am almost ready to go. I filled up with fuel and water this morning and finished off all the must do jobs on the boat.

Hopefully I will be able to get internet access at Cayo Largo (ETA Monday/Tuesday) and post a further update.

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