Beach Days In Bay Of Pigs – Part Two

3 Jul

nfc cap

I had visited the charcoal swamp people outside of Playa Giron a few years back and taken some pictures of them at their tough and dirty labour. I had printed some at home that I wanted to give them and the next day with Matt & Karen we drove to Caleta Buena, a place they hadn’t been to.

After we stopped for souvenir pictures at the invasion museum, we visited the charcoal field. The people I had taken pictures of were not there but the older guy attending the charcoal in his hut promised he would pass them on.

Tough living on charcoal – the state pays 1,68 Cuban pesos or 3 cents US$ per bag. Havana folks on vacation would pay 25 CP or 1 US$ per bag there and in Havana the bag would go for 160 CP or 6 US$.

Matt and I guessed a bag would go for 40 to 60 Euros at home.

It takes a week for the charcoal pyramid to burn and produce roughly 20 to 25 bags, a dirty and dangerous job.

We continued to Caleta Buena and spent the day swimming with the fish in the rock caves and rock pools created by the waves, where we mingled with some international travellers from Brazil and Canada for some fun.

Another fine day at the beach it was – with the customary late afternoon thundershowers that brought some temporary relief from the heat.

Another half day was spent at the pool of the Playa Giron hotel next to the invasion museum.

The hotel is nothing to write home about, a half empty all-inclusive dig mostly visited by Cubans. But the pool and beach area is nice and it is quiet.

Fernando arranged for me to just rent a pool chair from the Red Cross life saver who also acted as unofficial barman for the much needed frozen Daiquiris. The damage was 6 cookies for the peaceful day, swim and drinks ….

Caleton itself has a nice sandy beach, I took a long walk on it and spoke to the fishermen, but sadly no facilities, beach huts or chairs – nothing.

I didn’t want to leave back to Havana but I had some appointments there, a day-trip to Varadero planned and my buddy Yannick “Blanquito” was arriving.

After another lovely quiet and sunny beach day I was “all dressed up with no place to go” – at least with no car to go.

My last chance saviour was Fernando and his aging Peugeot mix-all who drove me to Havana after lunch.

We left late and hit two tremendous thunderstorms just out of Jagüey Grande that were overhead for more than an hour. The wipers didn’t work, water was coming in through the engine room, the windows were fogging up, lightning crashing left, right and centre, masses of rain pouring down, Fernando would drive quietly on and we made it to Havana.

As the Cuban saying goes : Hay mas tiempo que vida.

I already look forward to some more beach time next November with Yannick and for sure I will be down there in February to show Frank a different part of the island.



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