Day 8 December 13, Sunday
This morning there was a bicycle race that passed in front of our hotel. Ten laps were biked by women, then ten laps by men. I witnessed a pileup. We talked with some of the riders who were waiting their turns as eight of us walked with Ramon to the outdoor Sunday Market near our hotel. The market was filled with people in chaotic lines to purchase food, liquor, and other goods.
Meat, hunks of beef and pork, were out in the open. Butchers were in the gated area with the meats and hacked of pieces for their customers.
One kiosk had wine in many types of bottles (vodka, wine, rum, etc.) To purchase a bottle of wine, you hand to hand in a bottle. There were people with ten or more bottles. I think these are entrepreneurs who resell the wine to others who don’t go to the market.
Some people were buying onion and long ribbons garlic out of the bed of a dump truck. These are basic ingredients for Cuban cuisine.
There was a lottery gameshow emceed by an enthusiastic woman. People bought numbers. A little girl stuck her hand in a box with a hole in it and pulled out a number. The emcee called out the number and the lucky person went on the stage. The emcee and a bystander varied the number. The winner had to dance to loud music before choose a prize, mostly food, I think.
Laurie found a kiosk selling the plastic woven baskets everyone here seems to carry.
After leaving the market, Ramon lead us to the last standing fortification from the Spanish Colonial Period. It’s now a restaurant called El Fortin (The Fortress.) We went inside and Ramon described their specialty: a salad of chicken, vegetables, rice and mayonnaise that is formed to look like a cake.
While I was at the outdoor market, m left thigh felt numb, then alternated with pins and needles and then sharp pains. After seeing the fortification, I decided to go back to the hotel instead of downtown with the group. I had my umbrella shading my face but I overheated on the walk back to the hotel. When I got back to my room my face was beet red. I splashed cold water on it, cranked up the air conditioning, took off my sneakers and socks and lay down. Within minutes I was fine. What a weird heat stroke symptom.
I did not attend church. I went down to the hotel lobby about noon and saw our group leader Warren., We chatted. After a while we took a pedicab to the Community Center where church volunteers were making us lunch. The door was locked. Without a place to sit we retreated to Gutiérrez Lagones Park.
We sat on a park bench chatting and observing. I photographed may classic cars that went by.
We returned to the Community Center when we saw more Global Volunteers and the door was open. I sat with a family from Moron. The father was a cook at a hotel in Ciego de Avila. The mother was a neonatal nurse. Their children, four and two years old, were shy. We ate fried rice with cut up hot dogs, marinated cucumbers, and fresh cut papaya and pineapple. And, of course, flan for dessert.
I took a pedicab back to the hotel and I rested and read until six-thirty web we assembled in the hotel lobby and went to a private dining room. Sitting at tables of four, instead of twelve or sixteen, definitely facilitated conversation. We ate delicious ham in garlic sauce. I tried to eat a piece of the skin but it was hard as a tile. Of course there were rice and black beans, cabbage salad, sliced pineapple and papaya and flan for dessert.
After dinner we went by horse and carriage to Lo Trova, a bar and music venue for that type of music. Miguel Angel Luna, a Cuban painter, was a big fan of la trova. He created a foundation for it and got the building as a venue. To sustain la trova. He painted the walls, too. I bought a CD of legendary la trova musicians.
The band that played was “Raices Cubanos” *(Cuban Roots.) We received free frozen mai tais and the dancing started right away with Eduardo and Yanel. Soon everyone joined in. The evening ended in a conga line. A great time was had by all.