First Man Back in Havana

I hope to be the first Man back in Havana, or rather the first visitor, guest, tourist coming back. Ideally with the first flight, when international travel opens up again.

March 24th 2020 Cuba locked down for tourists. I flew out the next morning. A couple of days before, the Cuban authorities started to transfer tourist from Case Particulares to hotels. I ended up in the most famous Hotel of Cuba, Hotel National, facing Malecón and the sea.

The first picture shows the E-Poster in the hotel’s lobby announcing the lock down. The next day similar orders were issued to the Cubans.

In the previous two weeks, restrictions in Cuba were few but efficient. Even in the smallest hamlet, like in Boca de Miel a couple of kilometers outside of Baracoa, they practiced hand washing before entering the restaurant.

Notice the soap to the right
The restaurant in Boca de Miel.

If ever you have a chance to visit or revisit Cuba, Baracoa is among the places I recommend the most:

Baracoa and El Yunque

El Yunque is a 575-metre-high (1,886 ft) mountain located 7 km (4.3 mi) west of Baracoa and the Baracoa Bay in Cuba’s Guantanamo Province. It has a table mountain shape that resembles an anvil (“yunque” in Spanish). El Yunque was mentioned by Christopher Columbus in his chronicles about the discovery of the Americas.

Baracoa is a little bit like Copenhagen: more bikes in the streets than cars.

Outside the Viazul bus station in Baracoa

To get back to Havana, you follow Carretera Central, the west-east highway spanning the length of the island of Cuba, 1435 km. The highway has its fair share of boring “international” truck stop service stations with cafeterias.

But with some luck, you can find good local restaurants on the way, like “Restaurant 515” in La Luisa, near Florida, 50 km West of Camegüey. A People’s Kitchen listing prices in the local CUP currency.

Restaurant 515 served an excellent Fricasé de Cerdo.

Copy and paste the coordinates into your GPS or favorite Map App, to see the exact location of Restaurant 515: 21°38′03.35″N 78°18′14.54″W

When we said Adiós to the Cubans in the Casa Particulare in Santiago de Cuba, we added: “We are coming back”. They answered: We will be waiting!”

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