Friday May 17, 2013
It feels like we’ve been doing nothing but running around ever since we got to Cuba, so Matt and I decided to take a nice day to ourselves to relax. We slept in, made ourselves a nice breakfast of pancakes, but nothing could compare to all the fresh fruit we were served yesterday, so we thought we’d finally make it up to the market. Getting tipped off by our friends on Skebenga of where it was located, we started slowly making our way through the heat to the center of town. The marina, which happens to be located in a beautiful area on the bay, is still a mile or two walk from town. Now don’t go calling us wimps just yet, we’re not ones to shy away from a hike, but it’s just the heat that’s been killing us here. High’s are creeping past 90, there’s suffocating humidity, and never a hint of wind. Getting here was the first time we’ve allowed ourselves the luxury of staying at a slip in a marina while traveling since the mast went up in the Catskills (I’m not counting St. Augustine), and most days we find ourselves wishing we were at anchor so we could have any resemblance of a breeze rolling through. So, while away from open waters and any chance of a fresh breeze rolling through, that mile and a half walk into town is a killer.
Stopping along the way for a bite to eat, we found a little chicken shack, or at least I’m calling it that, because everything on the menu is made from chicken. Chicken hamburgers, chicken meatballs, chicken nuggets (at least, that’s what I think they were). My Spanish must be getting a little better because I’ve noticed that instead of getting blank stares I’m only left with a few snickers, but ultimately what I was trying to get. Ordering up a little bit of everything with a side of french fries, we sat in the shade and drowned our sorrows in a nice chilly liter of TuKola. When the food came out, it was mostly burnt breading, but we managed to find a little processed meat in there as well. Again, we’re not foodies, so we’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s cheap. And at $0.10 per nugget or croqueta, whatever those are, we were more than willing to suffer through it just to get some food in our stomachs. The fries however were fantastic, and I think next time we’ll make a meal just out of those.
Continuing on to the market, we walked inside to find stalls upon stalls of food. Many of the tables were serving the same items, just filled with different people trying to get your business. Glancing around each table, we tried to decide what we wanted to buy since we had not made any kind of list to bring with us. No surprise there. Eventually I started picking random things that I thought could get use at some point. Onion, green pepper, tomatoes, maybe for an omelette. At the fruit stand I picked out a few guavas and a pineapple, and made sure to grab a few very green plantains that I might be able to turn into chips. We’ve heard that the starchier they are, the better. Having just found out that morning from my travel guide what ‘papaya’ is slang for in Cuba, I made sure to steer clear of that one. We also picked up a few other things, garlic, potatoes, something else that kind of looked like a potato, and a pound each of beef and pork. This market was all in pesos, and the grand total for filling our backpack to the brim was the equivalent of $8, almost half of that being on meat alone. Going from paying $4 for a pineapple in Jamaica to paying only $0.40 here? I’m almost starting to wish that official had run away with our passports our first day here.