Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rural Cuba at Jibacoa

Lori feeding sugarcane to a pig. Cuban
pork is the best fed pork in the world.
While in Cuba, we stayed at a resort near Jibacoa, about an hour east of Havana.  It was my first time in Cuba and my first time staying at an all-inclusive resort, so I don't have much to compare it to, but I was surprised by how remote the resort felt.  The resort faced the water, but was backed by a big forested hill.  We spent a bit of time hiking around the hill on guided and solo treks and got to know the farms and people in the area.

This is the view of the resort from the top of the hill.  We certainly weren't wanting for anything, but the lush, hilly countryside made us feel like we were all in the jungle and not crowded in to a tourist strip.

A half hour hike over the top of the hill took us into open fields and farm land.  The horse or cattle drawn cart is for hauling sugarcane.  

On the guided hikes, the farmers met us with sugarcane and fresh coconuts.

Lori was an old pro with coconut water, but it was my first time.
Once drained, the coconuts were split with a machete and we could scrape the white meat out to eat.
Cuban Farmhouse.
I think he sees a lot of tourists in a year.
One of the buildings on the farm is a barbershop under the veranda.  

On Boxing Day, I went back for a cut.

At some point peacocks were introduced to Cuba.  They seem to hang around anywhere that people live.  We saw them on the farms, but also throughout Havana.
By far, the most common bird we saw were the large turkey vultures that always seemed to be visible somewhere in the sky.  I don't think there was ever a moment when they weren't in sight, circling overhead or off in the distance.

One of my favourite souvenirs from the trip is this hat.  According to our tour guide, these are the type of palms used to make the hats.
This is the husband and wife team who made the hat.  He's lost his sight, but continues to braid the long strands of leaves and she sews them together.  Each hat is made as a single spiral starting at the centre and looping round and round towards the brim.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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