During my recent visit to Playa Baracoa I visited Virginia and Roberto in whose casa I had previously stayed. I had hoped to stay with them again but their two apartments were occupied long term by a couple of Canadians. Virginia may be seen at right in the photo to the left.
The apartment where I previously stayed has a complete kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a small enclosed patio. Each morning, as soon as Virginian and Roberto heard me stirring, I would hear “Cristobal – cafe” and over the patio wall would appear a pot of high test coffee which I would consume while sitting in the sun on the patio in my shorts.
Each afternoon I would sit and talk with Virginia and Roberto on their front porch, overlooking the beach. They had many questions about my home, work and travels, while I had lots of questions about life in Cuba.
Virginia told me the amazing story of her son leaving Playa Baracoa in 1991 on a sailboard headed for the USA.
After two nights and a day in the sea he was picked up b y a German petroleum supertanker which took him to California where the crew bought him clothing and took in out on the town. Eventually he made his way to Miami where he remains.
Most Cubans whom I have met and who have expressed a desire to leave Cuba for the USA have relatives in the USA and wish to leave for the same economic reasons that motivate those from Mexico and other nations. I have also spoken to a few folks who wish to leave for political reasons and others who have told me of friends who have left for Mexico and the USA who wish to return to Cuba, for its safety and more tranquil life.
Virginia and Roberto have a very friendly Boxer named Samatha who assumes her station on the porch wall during the afternoon salons. Each day at the appointed time Samatha begins barking to remind Roberto that it is play time.
Here Samatha assumes her usual pose, with her tongue extended, on the porch wall.
There is also a bird in the family, which you can see here perched on Life Long Harborite’s arm.
During my first visit I would often hear what sounded like a child calling “papi, papi”. When I asked, Roberto informed it was his bird calling for him to come pay it some attention.
Playa Baracoa is a very quiet, relaxing place to stay. There is small, crescent shaped sandy beach that provides access to a natural pool of warm, turquoise colored water separated from the Florida Straights by a coral reef.
The town is only a $15 taxi ride from Havana, and if you life to dance there is a disco that is nightly packed with masses of local young folks undulating to the repeated rhythms of Raggaetone, a music genre of which I lack understanding.
Occupying what used to be a naval base in the town is the Latin American School of Medical Sciences, where disadvantaged students from throughout the Americas are provided a six year medical education at no cost. There are at present about sixty students from the USA amongst the more than 3,000 students studying there.
Cuba has excellent health care system providing care to all Cubans by neighborhood doctors who make house calls. It also has an excellent medical education system that has produced so many doctors that there is now somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 Cuban doctors providing free health care to poor folks throughout the world.