Sometimes travel doesn’t go as planned and you roll with the punches or it ruins your day. Today in Cienfuegos was that kind of day. As an American in Cuba (at the moment) you have to have tour guides as you are not allowed to roam freely and must have People-to-People connections. Sometimes that works out because tour guides know the ins and outs of life in Cuba, interesting factoids, things not shown in the guidebooks, and are more than willing to share. Other times, being stuck with a guide and group really puts a damper on the day.
On our very first stop we visited Castillo de Jagua about an hour away from Cienfuegos down some slow and bumpy highways. The views from the fort were beautiful water views with a political message.
The fort itself has Cuba’s only working drawbridge. It was neat. But the drawbridge and views were about all there was to see. The rest of the Castillo de Jagua wasn’t too exciting until an older tourist in the fort fell down a flight of treacherously steep stairs. Our time at the fort was mostly over so we scooped up the man who was bleeding from the head, put him on the bus, and whisked him away to the hospital a few minutes down the road. Our tour guide ended up staying with him (and therefore the entire tour bus) for the duration of his 90 minute stay in the Cuban hospital while he got X-rays and stitches. The Cuban hospital was efficient!
Luckily the man was okay and we took him back into town forgoing some of our planned stops (also now we are 90 minutes behind).
The Palacio de Valle was my favorite stop in Cienfuegos. Modeled similarly to Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the arches, colors, and design were amazing. I hear the food there is bad so skip that and just take a stroll inside.
Views from the top deck were fantastic too.
Drinks and lunch at a gorgeous water venue. We had a Cuba Libre (rum, cola, lime juice) instead of mojitos this time.
The main square in Cienfuegos was the next most interesting place. We stopped inside the non-air-conditioned theatre that had a sloped stage (really strange!).
The square itself is filled with hubbub. I snuck away from the group at this point and did my own exploring and outdoor market/trinket shopping.
Reader Question: Have you ever been in a hospital in a foreign country?