Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos

From the Bay of Pigs we motored to Cienfuegos, a coastal town of 100,000 facing the Caribbean.  At the central plaza we disembarked for a performance of the Cienfuegos Gospel Choir, called Los Cantores de Cienfuegos or Cantos Novinus.  The choir received a first place in France.  The four sopranos, four altos, two baritones and two bass singers sang a capella.  Their rendition of “Shenandoah,” was moving.  It was quite obvious why they were awarded first place.  They hope to travel to America. Most Cubans with whom I spoke want to visit the states.  They all have jobs and practice many hours each week.  They are not paid.  We walked across the plaza to what appeared to be a sort of Chamber of Commerce and enjoyed a welcome drink on an airy patio.  We then checked in the Hotel Jagua, a modern multi-storied hotel located on the harbor.  The lobby was bustling with tourists.  Dinner that evening was enjoyed in an Arabian styled mansion next to the hotel.  The dining room was decorated with intricately carved wooden panels and a hoarse-voiced singer played on an out of tune piano.  Fish or chicken was the choice and ice cream the dessert.  The humidity, heat and bland food encouraged me to eat rapidly and leave as soon as possible.  Having suffered from the absence of spiced food I daringly asked for some hot sauce or hot peppers.   I was given a bottle of unopened German spiced ketchup.  It was awful.  A glass of white wine at the hotel’s pool bar ended the evening.