Bayamo, Cuba - Good Food, Bad Food, Cespedes and Shopping
From La Demajagua I rode to the town of Manzanillo then caught a bus to Bayamo.
When I first entered the room I thought that I was entering a honeymoon suite because it was decorated primarily in pink with lots of crystal accents. The owner was so nice that I overlooked my initial impression.
The bathroom was clean and the shower was perhaps the best that I had experienced in all of Cuba. The shower head was an overhead rain shower head which I love.
On the inside was some original period furniture which belonged to the family.
A small interior patio.
The Cuba flag alongside the Cespedes flag.
Down the street a young girl gazes out of the doorway of a local church.
A store selling shoes.
Why walking around the outskirts of the city center I stumbled across this rather large and peculiar structure. There was a man standing outside just staring at the building… so of course I approached him and began a conversation.
He explained that the building was the San Francisco Convent that previously housed a sisterhood of nuns dating back to 1620.
After some time, I felt that it was time to leave. He asked me if I would take a photo of him and show it to the rest of the world. He said that he knew that he would never be able to leave Bayamo, so he wanted his photo to travel. I took his photo. I almost cried.
This particular afternoon it began to rain. An attendent of the park quickly took down the flag. Two little kids stood by and watched in amazement. It was one of those times that I wished that I was carrying my good camera with a zoom lens to capture the moment. The expression on the little boys face was priceless.
The experience was peculiar because some people showed up late and others left early. I was wondering if all of the patrons, all five of us, were really just trying to find an activity to avoid the rain.
I really enjoyed my time in Bayamo. The town was large enough to have a number of interesting sites and activities, but small enough to have approachable and friendly people.
I asked a number of the locals where I should go next. I inquired if it was worthwhile to visit the nearby city of Holguin to the north or Las Tunas to the west. Many folks said that both of the towns were more touristic, but not really very significant. One person was honest enough to share with me that many male tourists go to Holguin and Las Tunas to find Cuban girlfriends. Interesting. I inquired if the tourists eventually get married to these girlfriends. He said, "No." In other words Holguin and Las Tunas had developed somewhat of a reputation for sex tourism. At first I was not sure if the locals were telling me the truth, which is sometimes hard to decipher in Cuba, or telling me tales of the neighboring provinces and cities out of rivalry or jealousy. I had begun to notice that many Cubans held fierce loyalty to their hometowns and provinces - wherever that might be.
Later, I ran into traveler and asked her if she would recommend visiting Holguin or Las Tunas. She confided that she felt uncomfortable in both cities and confirmed that she saw what appeared to be a lot of overt sex tourism. I decided that I would seek a more legit location. The owner of the Casa at which I was staying mentioned that I might like to visit the town of Sancti Spiritus. I knew nothing about the town other than it was about 400km west along the Carretera Central (Central Highway). Sometimes you just don't know until you go.