Cuba – day 5

Another very busy day.

Remedios is the only city in Cuba to have two churches in the plaza. They alternate services weekly. We visited St John the Evangelist.

The altar is 22-carat gold over cedar carvings.

A side altar with a rare image of a pregnant Mary.

To get to the next destination, we all boarded bicitaxis. Our driver was Manolo.

At a local museum, we learned about Remedios’ tradition of Parrandas which lasts 7 days from December 24-31. There is an imaginary line through the center of the plaza and down one of the streets that divides Remedios into two neighborhoods: San Salvador (rooster) and Del Carmen (hawk). In church people sit on one side of the aisle or the other depending on the neighborhood they live in. There is even a joke (I think) that you only marry someone from your neighborhood. For Parrandas, each neighborhood creates floats, costumes, and fireworks. There is a friendly competition to see whose is best. There is no winner, just the enjoyment of competition and bantering back and forth.

Handmade fireworks. This type spins.

The costumes are quite elaborate.

This is only a headpiece, 3 meters wide, 3 meters tall.

The preparations for Parrandas begin immediately in the new year. Designs are created and the building begins in a secret location in each neighborhood. We visited the Del Carmen location. 

Great left turn signal, Manolo.

Horse-drawn carts are a common sight.

We learned about the bodega – the government run rations store. There’s one in every neighborhood. Our Cuban tour guide, Ray, shared what a ration book looks like and how the system works.

A ration book:

Back to the hotel and onto the bus to visit a nearby museum which showed the history of the sugar industry from the early beginnings

to the next stage of modernization.

Lunch was at a nearby farm. To get there, we crossed a busy road and railroad tracks, then a bridge which was limited to 8 people at one time. 

The man in the center is 81 years old and has been harvesting palmiche from the palm trees since he was 14. 

Then he showed how it’s done. 

After lunch, we met local professional baseball players and played a one inning game. 

Across the street was a typical Cuban cemetery which are always above-ground.

Dinner at a local paladar called El Piramide. The family lives here. We ate in the converted living room. This is what local families do to make more money.

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