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A Perfect Day at the Bay of Matanzas, Cuba

So last month I took a group of four to the Bay of Matanzas. We were hosted by a band I’m friendly with and their families, who threw us a big pig roast! It was their idea, and I gave them free rein. That’s a little risky, just because none of us knew exactly how it would go – but the risk paid off. One traveler later said she couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the day. So I decided if the day was that perfect, it merits a blog post.

(In fact, I had such a good time, I’m hoping to do it again sometime! If you’re booked on my May trip for Cuba Pride, I hope to work this into our schedule.)

Our day actually got off to an unexpected start when we discovered our van had been redecorated while we slept:

Obviously I parked our van under the wrong trees. Because of this and other incidents (don't ask) we christened our van the Cacamobile!

I parked our van under the wrong trees. Everyone who saw it said, “Oh, you parked in Parque de la Libertad, didn’t you.” Apparently I’m the only one who doesn’t know you shouldn’t park overnight there. Because of this and other incidents (don’t ask) we christened our van the Cacamobile!

But a little caca didn’t stop us! We drove to the bay, where our friend Ricardo has a little house. The band had already set up on the front porch and were testing the microphones and stuff. The singer’s daughter likes to sing, so she seized the opportunity to get on the mike, and a couple of the musicians backed her up:

A friend's daughter recruited some of the musicians to be her karaoke band!

My friend’s daughter recruited some of the musicians to be her karaoke band!

Then Ricardo took us around the area, showing us the bay:

Ashlee and John take in the view of the Bay of Matanzas

Ashlee and John take in the view of the Bay of Matanzas

…and a small, deserted beach:

The guys camped out with some beers next to the beach for a few minutes. The water was chilly enough that day that no one was tempted to go in.

The guys camped out with some beers next to the beach for a bit. The water was chilly enough that day that no one was tempted to go in.

We visited an old fort:

Clowning around at the fort, which originally was built to prevent piracy and smuggling

Clowning around at the fort, which originally was built to prevent piracy and smuggling. We spent some time with the women who work there, learning about the fort and its history, plus their thoughts on Cuba’s evolving tourism sector.

…and then went to the guitarist’s house for a lunch of roast pig. My friend Alián, the tres player, had organized our meal with help from his mom and several others. They laid out a huge spread for us, showing us why Cubans have such a reputation for hospitality!

If God helps those who help themselves, then God's definitely helping Ronny. A lot.

With all that meat around, Ronny couldn’t stay in his seat. If God helps those who help themselves, then he’ll definitely be helping Ronny. A lot.

After lunch, the band got started, playing on and off for a while. We kept going back and forth between music, drinking, and more food.

Mario, the trumpeter, plays a solo

Mario, the trumpeter, plays a solo

Last but not least, here’s a short video of their performance. Hard to sit still!

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