Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Flag of Cuba  ,
Friday, February 2, 2007

Politely described as tranquil, and impolitely as boring, Remedios may be a bit quiet even for us. One of the two churches in town is closed for renovations. When we go to the music museum next door, it too is closed. Frequently, these places are shut for hours during the mid-day, but I can't quite make out the response from the guard. The only word I know similar to what he's saying is March. It's open tomorrow perhaps? No, it turns out that the museum is in fact closed for a month. Why they have a guard and museum staff posted at the open door to tell everyone this, instead of just closing the door, is anyone's guess.

I stressed my back the first morning here, probably as a result of too much gear on my back going to the bus depot in Trinidad and too much horsing with Jonathan. I have to lay about relaxing for the better part of the day. It's really not much different once my back feels better.

We spend days lazing about our casa, watching the endless procession of bikes stream past our front row living room seats, and talking with Frank's extended family. Once again we are blessed with hosts who spoils us. We're invited to a family birthday party, served plentiful and delicious food, and made to feel very much at home.

The daughter, Beatrice, helps Lucy pat the turtle on an hourly basis. Lucy has named it Maria, and sings the "West Side Story" song to it. Our daughter Emma (left behind at school in Canada) took part in a production of the musical in the fall. We'd finally gotten all the music out of our heads on this trip, but the stupid turtle puts the whole soundtrack on high rotation. For the rest of the Remedios stay I catch myself whistling it, singing it. "I'll never stop saying Maria!"

I walk around Remedios alone a few times, getting offered a good time at one door, hearing Cuban polka music (!?) drifting out of a window further down the street, watching a game of dominoes here, a chess game there. I get an excellent English-speaking guide at the Museo de las Parrandas Remedianas to explain the chaos which is December 24th here, when half the town takes part in a bizarre all-night event that sees fireworks, massive towers and costumed floats fill the town square. Started as a promotional campaign by the local padre to get more parishioners into the late night mass, there's more rum than religion in the festivities nowadays. One of the teams uses polka as its theme music, which explains the odd sonic oompahs around town.

On one of our strolls around Remedios` leafy central plaza, we run into the Argentinean couple from Trinidad, Gimena and Leandro. They're just visiting for a few hours from Santa Clara and have already run out of options; there are only three open "attractions" in town, after all. We have them over for a drink in our living room -- Frank, ever the host, brings in snacks -- and chat about travelling and their work at a radio station in Buenos Aires. Leandro speaks about as much English as Julie speaks Spanish, so it's a fun ping pong game of a conversation.

They're catching a truck back to Santa Clara -- prohibited, of course. But they've had to duck down in the back of a car to avoid fines for their enterprising driver, so they'll be less intrusive, if somewhat squished amogst a press of Cubans on their return trip.
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