Thursday, February 6, 2014

Play Ball!

Monday, January 27th

Baseball!  We played the Remedios team- I can't remember their name, and since they're Cuban, Google isn't much help...and we could have used some help.  With more than the name.  We were awful.  

They have a great stadium, and every Cuban plays baseball. There's a joke that Cuban kids are born with a baseball bat in their hands.
These guys are really good.  But there's not much else to do here...we were lame, but we have the internet and thousands of TV channels and reality TV and Target and Neiman Marcus (you get the idea), baseball isn't our ticket to a better life.

Wally hit on every at-bat:
and had a pinch runner.  The Cubans wouldn't tag her out, they wanted to watch her run.  When the two youngest pretties ladies were both on base, Craig said "That's a double feature for those guys!"  
Hector never misses.  
His home town team is the Cienfuegos Elephants.  (There was a soviet missile base at Cienfuegos, he admits when asked by a traveler.  No idea what's happening there now.  Maybe that's where they keep those elephants.)

"How did you become a tour guide?" someone asks.  Hector was a college professor in Cienfuegos, teaching English to English teachers.  Remember the Cuban economic crisis brought on by the fall of the USSR?  Well, there was no chalk, no paper (there is still a severe paper shortage), no electricity for most of the day, so Hector left and went into tourism.  (Note: There is still only intermittent water service, so there are water tanks on every roof.  When the water is on, you fill up your tank, and take short showers.  Puts our water troubles in a new light).

A word about English in Cuba - after the revolution it was illegal to speak English, listen to music in English - the language of the enemy, he calls it.  Tough times for Beatles fans; their music was outlawed too. Now English is compulsory in schools, and many of the people we meet speak excellent English.

He also tells us about the government barber shops.  Until a few years ago the government owned and ran the barber shops, so if you were a barber you could only have one shop, you were working for the government, and you'd have a government manager.  One to one.  Now there are co-ops with several barbers and fewer managers.  Another  place where socialism seemed like a good idea at the time...

At a rest stop off the highway a man is getting a haircut.  Craig says "That doesn't look like a haircut - that looks like a sheep shearing!"  
We crack up.  Still, the guy is enjoying it about as much as the sheep does, and he's about as cooperative.  I'm surprised the barber doesn't flip him on his back to finish the job.

And he's giving this haircut right next to the piña colada bar!  Somebody says "Hey, how come there's hair in my piña colada?" and we crack up again. We think this guy lost a bet...

Almost everywhere we go we are met by live music - at the rest stops on the highway, in every restaurant and cultural center...and of course we are also met by the ubiquitous Welcome Drink.  If I never hear that term again it will be too soon.  It's usually something fruity, and given the health warning we all got from our doctors, we're not too sure about drinking it.  Still, they usually pass the rum bottle too.  Mija jokes that the rum should kill any germs.  One memorable lunch our table manages to drink the entire bottle, Mija and Craig doing the yeoman's job.  
Our guide can't believe it, and we get a stern look, which cracks us up even more.  

Craig says "Hey, if you put rum in the coffee it tastes just like Kahlua!"  Tim and Syl take it for a test drive:

Looks like a home run!

This was my favorite lunch, and not just because of the rum.   There was a whole roast pig:
We were really hungry, and it was really good.
There was an adorable puppy,
An adorable young couple whose home and garden (and puppy) this is, a kitchen that would have been at home in the Middle Ages (we were amazed at the fabulous food that came out. Maybe we don't need those 6 burner ranges!) and a big organic garden - finally, vegetables that are safe to eat.  We hope.  Let you know later.

Tomorrow: tobacco! Cuban cigars! and the Cuban Marlboro Man

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