14 March 2017 | Marti Square in Ceinfuegos
We had wanted to sail around to the south coast to go to Ceinfuegos, but with our limited time here, and more than a week travel time by boat, we decided to drive to Ceinfuegos for a couple of days. It was well worth the trip. Javier drove us, a three hour car trip through the countryside south and east of Havana. A group of Americans we had met gave us the name of Marisela & Pedro who operated a small casa particular and we called to confirm a room. The Cuban country side reminded me a lot of Texas, with the exception of the type of trees, but just about everything else was very similar. Riders on horseback, cattle ranches, long sugar cane farms with amazing stone fences and citrus orchards that stretched for miles. The landscape changed as we got closer to Ceinfuegos where sugar cane farms were replaced by rice fields.
Ceinfuegos is a newer City by Cuban standards, developed in the 1800's by the French and enlarged by wealthy sugar cane barons in the early 1900's, but it has magnificent architecture that has remained untouched for 50 years or more and has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its significant architectural quality and contributions to urban design. The main center city square is a real treat to visit. Lined by great buildings and accessed by a pedestrian shopping street it includes a theatre, cathedral, government buildings and a lovely gazebo and memorial statues. The Prado in Ceinfuegos extends south to Punta Gordo, a long peninsula fronting on the bay with hotels, sugar baron mansions and the Yacht Club.
It seemed that Ceinfuegos, a smaller town than Havana, with its own port, had access to more and the City was well preserved with buildings generally in better condition. More industry, across the bay also helped to make economic conditions in Ceinfuegos better. While visiting the Marina, we met Landi, a Cuban Captain who invited us aboard the yacht he worked for and gave us a much appreciated lesson on the sailing route to Ceinfuegos. Ceinfuegos was a beautiful City, and we had a lovely dinner of rab bit from the balcony overlooking the Prado. It was especially wonderful to get to know Marisela, Pedro and their family, their stories were amazing and the casa was fantastic. Marisela arranged for a taxi driver to take us back to Havana, and finish our fourteen day stay.