No matter, we were let go to our own devices and instructed to rendezvous back with the bus in an hour or so. Randy and I started out sight-seeing and shopping together, but before long, he drifted one way and I went the other.
Cienfuego is called the Pearl of the Caribbean, and with its beautiful architecture, colorful buildings, and wide boulevards, it’s easy to see why. Besides the photos below, you can also take of glimpse of it here.
I met up with the others at the bus and we departed Cienfuego to travel high up into the mountains to the Hotel Hanabanilla. We weren’t traveling here to check in, but to traverse the highest lake in Cuba and to have lunch.
The lake was also named Hanabanilla, and it sat at 364 meters above sea level, or about 1,200 feet. The lake had been constructed as a joint project with the United States and served as a reservoir for the inhabitants below as well as having some excellent Largemouth Bass fishing.
We took a short boat ride across the lake to have lunch at a restaurant that reminded me very much of the old Tiki Room attraction at Disneyland – minus the singing parrots. After climbing the steps from the lake to the restaurant, we sat under a huge palm frond cover at an enormous table that could seat 30.
The lunch today was pork, along with the standard rice and black beans. The best part of the meal was some fresh tomatoes as well as some great Cuban cheese.
One issue that concerned me more than anything though, was the condition of the road itself. It was windy and downhill, but worse of all; it was the worst road we had been on during our trip. It was so damaged that you had to maintain complete focus to avoid the giant potholes, all the while trying to control your downhill speed. Even the pavement around the potholes was washboard rough and I soon gained an appreciation for the term ascribed to bicycles when they first appeared on the American landscape: Bone-shakers.
Eventually the road leveled out and became more accommodating. We ended our ride 45k (28miles) later and hopped onto the bus for a nice air-conditioned ride back to our hotel.