Baracoa, the most exciting Eastern Cuba city (Part II)
If you are looking for a unique experience in Cuba, a bit different from Havana’s enchanting narrow streets and late night clubs or Varadero’s white sand beaches, then Baracoa is a must. This small town, geographically placed in Guantanamo province, feels like a different piece of land in the Caribbean country. And a fabulous plus, you’ll be nicely surprised by the stunning local food.
People from Baracoa are one of the greatest things of this town. Friendly and charming, are there to make you feel like home. Interesting, Baracoa was the first town in Cuba supported by tourism; almost everyone here works in the tourism industry: private houses, car rentals, excursion guides, “paladares” or private restaurant or musicians performing in the main square. So, people grow up with the gift of making their hometown a pleasant place for those coming from the “outside”; doesn’t matter if they are foreigners from Europe or Australia or people from Havana. A curious thing, when you ask people about their province Guantanamo, they say they aren’t not from Guatanamo, they are from Baracoa! They don’t mess with their town here.
As almost every private house in Cuba, they will offer more than a bed to lay down. The owners will give you the opportunity to have dinner at home, or making you breakfast in the morning. Based on my personal experience it’s a good option to arrange breakfast at your “casa”, so you won’t spend too much time going out in the morning to find a decent meal, plus breakfasts are usually really nice. A tip, fill yourself properly in the morning, because days here are long and you will need strengths to go up in Baracoa’s mountains.
If you decide to enjoy an eco-tourism experience then you have to try any of this trips: climb the Yunque (you can rent bikes in the city centre and go to base of the mountain riding, and later…get ready for big steps!); another option is go to the biggest natural reserve in Cuba: Humbolt National Park where you’ll find the most exotic birds and flowers and stunning views. Once in Humbolt Park you’ll find there are different paths to go around the park. The hardest but also the most exciting is the one that takes you to a viewpoint called “Balcon de Iberia” including the most relaxing waterfall that you can imagine in your way down. While you are in this kind of daily trip, find food won’t be easy, but if you are prepared is not a big deal. What you will find very handy will be those ladies on the roads selling chocolate bars and coconut cones, the most famous local food. A pure dark chocolate bar will revitalize you anywhere in this city.
Baracoa is the land of chocolate and coconut. With this two ingredients, local people can make magical courses. Nights at Baracoa were so pleasant for me, mainly because I knew I will enjoy a tasty meal somewhere. Private restaurants are the big deal in town; there are many of them around the city. They are value for money, perhaps not as cheap as you might expect, but good quality food is priceless, right?
Seafood is the main issue here: fresh fish, lobster, shrimps and quite exotic ingredients will surprise you more than once. My favorites restaurants were: La Colonial, El Buen Sabor and La Colina. I recommend the fish at the first place, if you like coconut milk then try fish in coconut sauce, a tasty local dish. At the second place you must order a Calalu dish, a vegetarian course, but a lovely one; is another local recipe to prepare steam vegetables gorgeously; and finally at La Colina, enjoy any of their main courses (all stunning) but you must ask for some Daiquiris, because they have the best cocktails in town!
Very nice food, fresh ingredients and charming staff. Baracoa is a small town, everyone here knows these places and how to get there; don’t be shy, people love to help and will show the way to get anywhere with a big smile in their faces. Don’t stay at your room at night, go out, hear the music and feel the Cuban heat…and don’t be scare of Mojitos, they will make you feel like nirvana in this small town, surrounded by mountains and rivers, living the real Eastern Cuba.