In 2011 we made a trip to Varadero, Cuba as a large family group. There were 11 of us, 10 travelling from Nova Scotia and one from Alberta. Our Cuban brother-in-law had arranged for his family to visit from Las Tunas at the same time.
As usual, our friend Pavel wanted to invite everyone to his house for a meal. But his house was too small for our large group. Instead he arranged transportation and we all joined him and his family at a park on the Canimar River outside Matanzas city.
Our transport couldn’t go under the bridge for the train so we all walked to the park from there. It was a sunny day which made for a nice walk through the countryside.
We passed a campismo, a campground with cabins instead of tents, and soon arrived at the entrance.
We paid 1 CUC to enter and 5 CUC for a meal plus one beverage.
The tables were set up along the river under shade trees. There were paddle boats for rent, horse back rides and even a bull ride. One group went with Pavel in the paddle boat and explored an abandoned village nearby. A few of us went swimming in the river; it had a muddy bottom which didn’t feel nice underfoot. I prefer salt water for swimming, but our Cuban friends like swimming in ‘sweet’ water like the river.
I brought out the dominos, and since there was so many of us we decided to teach the Cubans a new game called Mexican Train. I don’t think they were much impressed, but with typical Cuban good humour they played anyway.
The meal was great. Everyone had the choice of grilled pork or chicken, rice and black beans, and salad. The salad dressing was in an old rum bottle that was stuffed with onions and peppers covered with oil and vinegar. It was delicious.
We waved from the shore at the tourists in the boats going by, while we enjoyed a day at the park.