March 24, 2023

Santiago to Baracoa

After a great breakfast we headed out to Baracoa.  The road along the ocean was amazing – not even the right word for it. The colors of the water mere mesmerizing – from the aquamarine to the deep navy blue farther out. One could easily imagine the Spanish galleons coming across these waters and settling in Baracoa, Cuba’s first city.  I suppose you also have to give sight to the slave ships that followed.  We wound our way over a twisting and turning road through the Sierra Maestra mountains – the very place where the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power took hold.  Assaulting the senses was the drought in evidence everywhere.  In one’s mind Cuba, as a Caribbean island, should be lush and green, but here in the Oriente it was parched and brown.  One could almost think you were in New Mexico or California.  Carlos said he has never seen it so dry here. Many of the rivers we crossed were only dry river beds. For a god part of the trip we were along the Atlantic Ocean and then we were driving along the Caribbean Sea. But it was the climb through the mountains that was truly stunning – at every turn in the twisting road there was another incredible scene to behold. You couldn’t tire of driving through them.  The is a quiet majesty to these mountains, as opposed to the rugged and imposing Scottish landscape of the Highlands that should to you or the Rockies in the western US that humble you.  No less awe inspiring, no less presenting an emotional connection.  Imagining the revolutionaries, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, operating out of these mountains did not take much thought.  It was easy to see how they could have remained secluded yet close to the city to play their moves.  Once through the mountains we found ourselves in Baracoa, the oldest city in Cuba. Wandering a bit down by the sea we saw a lot of young people swimming in the bay and jumping off the wall that surrounds the water. The dives were not short either – these youngsters were sailing through the air for many feet – perhaps more than the high board in an Olympic competition for the hight drive. Several of them were none too pleased that I wanted to photograph them. Eventually, after hanging around I was able to get some close ups of these youngsters – some of them were true hams! Young people are always fun and the interaction with them was priceless.  I also managed to get some photos of very young children – and they are always a joy.