Saturday May 18, 2013
Yes, that is a pirate ship at our marina.
Our trip to Cuba has begun to wind itself down, and as much as we’d love to stay for months and months more, our cash is slowly dwindling and a weather window for Grand Cayman is coming up. We’ve been squeezing in a lot of time with friends in here, and last night made our way over to Skebenga to do some photo sharing with Lukie and Elmarie. They showed us the highlights of their trip to Havana which they had just gotten back from, and we gave them a glimpse into Trinidad. While on my way over there, I had a slight snafu with Georgie that almost make me scared to leave her out of my sights. Normally we’re at anchor so she has the full run of the boat and we don’t need to worry about her going anywhere. Now that we’ve been at a dock, however, she’s found that she likes hard ground under her feet and will try jumping off any chance she gets, even if it’s just to lay on the cool evening pavement next to the boat.
I thought I could remedy this by strapping her into her harness, clipping her into her leash, and securing it to a cleat or a winch, often like we do on passage. For most of the afternoons, I wouldn’t say she’s exactly happy, but she’s content to be tethered in to her spot in the cockpit. Until I left for Skebenga. As soon as she saw me leaving the boat, she wanted off too, and tried to join. Her leash gave her the slack to almost make the jump, but not quite. Luckily I heard the commotion behind me and looked down to see her dangling between the boat and the cement dock, about a foot above the water. The harness wraps around her chest and not her neck, so she wasn’t in danger of choking, but she must have been taken by surprise because she made no noise at all, only gently rocked back and forth, probably wondering what the hell just happened. Scooping her up I adjusted her leash so she couldn’t get as far as the side of the boat again, but through each photo at Skebenga, I kept my ears out for any little cries on the other side of the dock, just in case.
Today was lots more ‘friend’ time with a trip into town with Rode Trip in the morning, just to wander the pedestrian walkway, and then beers at the marina bar in the afternoon, along with Lukie and an Australian couple, Roger and Sasha, that are on the boat Edenbal next to us. We ran the keg dry and then started moving on to cans of Bucaneer and Cristal. I love being at a marina that will charge you the same cheap price for a can of beer that you’ll be charged for it in the store. The plan for after our afternoon full of drinking was to check out one of the nicer restaurants down on the prado, which according to our first day friend Christine and her crew, has the best ropa vieja in Cuba. We were also told that the meals would be cheap, about $3-4 CUC a person. I wasn’t sure what ropa vieja was, but it sounded like a win-win to me. We freshened up for a night on the town, and Stephanie and I took a few minutes to play with a stray dog that’s been wandering around the marina. We’ve named him Double D, for ‘dirty dog’, and we’ve come to think of him as our pet during our time here.
Stephanie and I adore Double D.
Brian….not so much.
Locating the restaurant out on the malecón, we climbed the stairs to it’s second story spot and were greeted by the owner. A very energetic guy with bouncing blonde curls and looking like he belonged in Australia, or maybe even Europe, but definitely not Cuba. He had some good English under his belt too, which was great for us trying to decipher exactly what we getting, or even what we wanted. As he came by to get drink orders, Stephanie asked “What’s a good traditional Cuban drink?”, to which he promptly replied “Mojito”. “No, I’m not talking about for the tourists. I want what the Cubans drink.” To which he replied a second time “Mojito”. “Oh”, Stephanie inquired, “You guys actually drink those?” So three mojitos were ordered up while Matt chose to sip on a Cristal. We were then left with our menus, which were in English for us, as we looked over the feast of foods available and the very low prices. Each of us wanted to try everything on the menu, but settled for soups, brothy for Brian and I, and a deliciously thick and unhealthy creme kind for Matt and Stephanie, and meals that were served with bread and salad. Matt got the ropa vieja, which was a scrumptious tender pork, shredded and marinated in some kind of sauce that I will have to get my hands on someday. I ordered the lamb, which was just as tender and savory. I think all of us were quite disappointed that we waited until our last day in Cienfuegos to come here. Had we known earlier how great the food was here, even though my entree turned out to be $7 and not $4, I still think we would have been here every night for dinner.
Stomachs full to the brim, we still decided there was room for after dinner treats. Matt got the only sweet thing they offered on the menu which was flan, and I settled for a coffee with milk. Stephanie, however, was still on the hunt for a real Cuban drink. Something that isn’t also served at the trendy bars back home. Asking the owner once more, he thought she should try a Canchanchara, and described all the ingredients, which include rum, lemon juice, and honey. Forgetting what might even be in the drink, we spent the rest of the time at the restaurant just trying to say it’s name. ‘Can-chan-chara’, I would tell Stephanie, and she’d repeat ‘Tar-an-tula!’. ‘No Steph, it’s not a spider.’ ‘Caaan-chaaan-chara’. ‘Can-chen-tura’. That’s ok honey, you keep sipping on that drink, we’ll work on it later. When the bill was paid, we made our way back out to the malecón, which was now being overrun by teenagers, out on a Saturday night just to be seen. Picking a spot in front of the bay, we propped ourselves up on the rail and pulled out some Cuban cigars that Matt and I had purchased the other day. Just mini Romeo & Julietas, but we couldn’t leave here without getting something. Taking puffs of our miniature cigars, we enjoyed the night time breeze that rolled through, watching all the kids as they passed by, dressed to the 9, and the repeated sound of Stephanie crying out “Can-chan-chara!!”.