We had to have our luggage ready for pick up at 6:30am and our departure from the hotel to the airport was at 7:30am. Our short flight from Miami to the Frank Pais International Airport in Holguin, Cuba, was scheduled at 10:25am, arriving about 12:05pm. The flight ended up leaving late at about 10:55am and arrived about 11:50am, before our scheduled arrival. The town of Holguin was founded in 1545 after its founder Captain Garcia Holguin, a Spanish military officer, and has about 370,000 inhabitants. The town of Holguin is made up of mostly single or two story homes built of concrete blocks and plastered with stucco. Many of the homes sit just a sidewalk away from the street and have no front yards to speak of. We saw all types of transportation being used, from old American cars to horse drawn buggies and bicycle taxis with a side car, to flat bed trucks with a box on the back where people stand up to be transported about town.
From the airport we were taken in a new looking large modern coach to the Royal Paladar (small restaurant) in the downtown part of Holguin for lunch. The word paladar refers to a privately owned restaurant often in a private home. It was very nicely appointed and seated about 30 guests. For lunch they served us a nice bowl of vegetable soup, a green salad, a plate of chopped beef in a rich sauce, a plate to share of rice and black beans, a plate to share of dried banana chips and dessert of a flan and ice cream. It was a very nice lunch and there was more food than we really needed.
The local area landscape is a mixture of rolling hills with lush vegetation to areas that look quite barren and dry. The vegetation includes many mango trees, palm trees, bougainvillea, pine trees, variegated croton plants, grasses and more.
After lunch, we walked a short two blocks to a printing shop called the Casa Editora Cuadernos Papiro for a demonstration on how they make paper from recycled paper and print books and art. The printing presses that they use were mostly built in the U.S. in the 1800’s but they still work today. When they stop working they make parts for them to keep them working.
Our next visit was at the Yuri Urquiza Shapovalov Artist Studio. Yuris is 30 years old from Belarus. He came to Cuba to study painting at a local university where he met his wife, who is the daughter of the most famous artist of Cuba and now resides in the U.S. Yuri’s art is mostly of nudes in a very traditional/classical style with flowing fabrics, cherubs and scenes with lots of trees and flowers. The art was not particularly appealing to us but was it was evident that he is quite an accomplished painter.
By late afternoon we arrived at the Playa Pesquero Resort in Guardalavaca where we will stay for two nights. The resort is an enormous all-inclusive resort with multiple restaurants, several bars, multiple swimming pools, a sports club and fitness center, night club, ice cream bar, theater and so much more. The rooms are located in two story buildings with clusters of rooms on both levels and sprinkled throughout the property. The grounds are lushly landscaped with trees, shrubs and flowering plants. It reminded me of something that you might find in Mexico with brightly painted rooms with tiled floors, wooden furniture and murals on the wall. Tonight we ate too much at one of the many buffets, then headed to the ice cream bar about 8:30pm before bed!