March 27, 2023

Exploring the culture

Absolutely glorious day – we were where the Toa river empties into the Atlantic and the beach was stunning.  The waver were crashing along the shore like they do at home when there is a serious nor’easter. Only these waves were beautiful because of the color of the water – the sparkling aquamarine, or is it cerulean blue that then becomes a deep navy blue along a line that looks as though it has been painted to mark the two very contrasting colors. The beach was black sand – and along the mouth of the river the lush vegetation asserted the senses. In the background was El Yunque, a unique mountain with a flat top that sticks up out of the tropical forest.  After the ocean we went to the river Douda??  Stopped briefly at what looked like a small but, as is often the case, was a restaurant (of sorts) and he told the people we would come back at 1:00 PM for lunch….then on the a place where we could wade across the river.  There was a cart with an ox hitched to it that was standing in the water. Two boys, 14 and 12 were tending to the ox and to whatever cargo they were trying to haul – I think it was water. The then drove them up out of the river.  Their mother was in the river washing clothes – I tried for an artsy photo through the leaved of s Tre hanging over the river but was not successful. The light wasn’t right and she was often facing away from me.  It was a good thought – another time perhaps I will do a better job of it.  We hiked along the narrow dirt road, barely wide enough for the ox and cart to pass, and wound up at the woman’s house tucked way back in the woods.  We passed many many cacao trees – obviously they would be harvested by the people from the house.  We rested at the house and the men brought coconuts that Carlos hacked open and gave the coconuts to anyone who wanted to drink the coconut water.  There was a mango tree that was huge – we all speculated how old it might be.  It was covered in mangoes we estimated to be in the thousands.  Imagine how many mangoes this tree had produced over the years it was alive….Too bad it was not the time for them to be ripe!! We all would have feasted.  The cacao fruit is interesting – shaped somewhat like a football and a beautiful shade of red at this stage.  There is a chocolate factory in Baracoa – so it is a commodity they sell, though we’ll never see it in the states. No wonder the US has lost it’s power over this island – through its own mistakes over the years and the greed of Americans who wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Now they cannot go back to the days of mobsters and nightclubs, nor can they have their sugar cane plantations – so we embargo the country. A lot of good that does.  Seems there is still such a strong contingent of Cuban-Americans who are blocking any normalcy with this country.  It is not the average middle-class or low income Cuban who is against opening up trade again – it is the wealthy now Cuban Americans who are angry at what Castro did, not realizing or acknowledging the role the US played in all of this.  Biden does not do enough to push for reconciliation. Suppose he does not want to upset the wealthy…