Memories of Loma de la Cruz, Holguin Cuba

And on a second visit to Cuba we land in the province of Holguin; I’m armed this time with cousins, whom years ago experienced first hand the island’s rise of communism, as young children.

Their father, my Uncle died of dementia on the Florida mainland. Thankfully, he enjoyed many fruitful years of life, watching his family prosper and grow. Uncle Ruben taught me that if a person is successful once, if given half the chance, he can do so again. In a candid way he said that Castro fooled everyone including himself.

“They claimed firearms to hunt and protect ourselves were allowed to be kept; then they came and conducted a proper inventory. If later found in possession, one would be jailed or worse. Next they arrived to collect all previously registered firearms, this time to ensure public safety.

Next, the armed guards arrived and looted his store and all its inventory, nothing was left; and all for the good of the people.”

When he spoke out in protest, he was sentenced and jailed as an agitator. Others in the community whom he built, quickly turned against anyone previously successful. Now, anyone who succeeded in life under a democratic process was considered suspect.

History shows that Christopher Columbus landed in an area now known as Gibara, on October 27th, 1492. He claimed it was the most beautiful country that man has ever seen.  Fast forward a few hundred years and surprise, surprise, Gibara is now a town in the municipality of the province of Holguin; and far from the natural beauty Columbus first witnessed.

Cuba is still a photographers dream though. This morning we visit the Loma De La Cruz (Hill of the Cross) before a return flight back to Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

Yesterday I woke up craving more of the fantastic islands fresh fruit. Around a $6 cab ride in a 50’s something part American car with a soviet tractor engine took me to a local fruit stand.  The aged driver was extremely laid back as if he was cherishing the drive behind the wheel of a Cadillac.

For around $10 US I brought back to my casa particular a large pineapple, a good looking garlic bunch, a miniature variety of bananas that tasted as sweet candy.  Wait there’s more. One papaya, three mamays. Mamey sapote is hard to describe; the flavor is a combination of sweet potato and pumpkin.  Perhaps they are right.  Best when made into a milkshake.

One cannot travel far into the countryside without encountering fields of bananas.  In Cuba the tobacco, sugar cane and banana seems to rule. Every home in the countryside has a legitimate food forest growing in the back and large side yard.  The usual fruits are bananas, avocados, mangos, and guava. No one seems to have a reliable irrigation system. They rely on rainfall. Sugar cane fields in Holguin get planted in August.

A small hut by the sea is where we enjoyed a delicious plate of garlic shrimp, cucumbers, avocado and cole slaw appetizers.  A large packet of crackers completed the appetizer entrée.  And of course the champion of the meal, ice-cold Cristal beer.  The only Cuban beer served.