Why spend a week or two in Guanabo

Guanabo is likely one of hundreds of similar sized towns in Cuba and there are probably several other towns of equal or greater beauty and interest. This web-site is focused upon Guanabo partially on the basis that:

  • the authors are not well travelled in Cuba and are only familiar with the Matanza, Guanabo and Havana corridor

  • Guanabo represents a Cuban community that is not too or exclusively touristy. and not to Cuban in terms of no one speaking English nor there being any basic visitor infrastructure. services and accommodations.

  • And finally It does have a beach and is very conveniently located near other towns and Havana.

Therefore it enables an English speaking foreigner to meet a number of Cubans somewhat outside of the tourism industry and experience day to day life of Cubans. In other words it does have some ex-pat types that can answer questions and provide some assistance and insight, while on the other hand you are living within a Cuban community with many families, parents going to work on the buses, students heading to school, dogs about, houses in various states of maintenance etc.. I guess it’s just something more real and less sanitized.

By just watching and observing the villagers make their way, a person also begins to develop a sense of Cuban history, the political system, generational differences, over time the transformation which is occurring, Cuban values and sensitivities. Also quite interesting is watching the evolution of small business in Cuba. It is interesting to note that almost 20 years ago or perhaps even more recently there was hardly any small, independent and private entrepreneurial business in Cuba.

Guanabo, is also somewhat noteworthy as it is a holiday resort of sorts for Cubans from Havana. This is particularly true during summer (possibly from May to October) as the hard working people and families get away from the heat and humidity of Havana to the constant breeze, beaches and festival like atmosphere of Guanabo. So much so, that during this period there are thousands of Cuban families along the roughly 12 KM beach during the summer,

Just some of the little things (besides the dozens if not hundreds of vintage 50s cars and russian motorcycles) that make this part of Cuba interesting includes:

  • Each weekday morning around 9 am and at about 4 pm this little horse and carriage which is more of a school bus goes by with all these (maybe 8 or 10) really cute and small kids in their uniforms. It’s truly a post card shot.

  • Similar as above every morning and afternoon mother and fathers walking their uniformed kids up the hill to school

  • The small local merchants that work outdoors on a stool either fixing shoes, selling newspapers, filling lighters…

  • The outdoor old and very friendly barber, where for a $1 you get a haircut outdoors under a hatch roof with great mexican mariachi music

  • The quaint and very popular bakery, where on a good day you can get a great box load of baked goods for like $3

  • Egg day or mattress day. I dont know when it happens, but on some days it seems like everyone is walking around with egg cartons or small matresses. Obviously it has to do with rationing and/or inventory and supplies.

  • Really cute and rickity little street carts where each day you can buy all the fresh onion,. garlic, vegetables, fresh juice and fruits etc… for next to nothing. This is where the kitchenette and gas top stove comes in real handy. You can easily make great and very fresh ommelettes each day,

  • As mentioned the many scrabbly but highly intelligent dogs that seem to spend the day on the street and manage to never get hit by cars or busess.

  • And in Cojimar the guy that whips around on his motorcycle with his dog on his seat behind him and how the dog has absolutely no problems hanging on high speed and around corners.

  • A few local and very friendly Cuban guys that are able to spend the day at the pub without working.

  • In the summer and late into fall the thousands of Cubans from Havana that jump off the bus and head to the beach.

  • Summertime deluge of cheap, large and very fresh avocadoes.

  • Fisherman walking downtown with their fishing gear and fresh fish.

  • In Guanabo there is a swimming guard school or college or something. So at some point in the morning dozens of tall and fit guys (there are a few women) in swimming shorts jog up and down maintsreet.

  • There is absolutely no rules as to where you can drink or smoke. And it all seems to work just fine. That’s another really nice feeling about Cuba, it seems like there are just so many fewer rules and regulations. Its just a nice break from North America.

  • There are so many more snippets and small attractions that I will remember later, but at this point it’s really a case that that you have to come to see it for yourself and discover some that we have never seen.

… And do it soon as Cuba is changing fast, and all of the

above will soon just be memories….