Two hectic weeks in the hustling bustling London, a 48 hours delay spent in an airport, followed by a long flight can make you feel like you need a bit of fresh air and some time to relax. So, when we arrived to this little village on the north eastern coast of Cuba and were met by the sight of the bay, where people were waist-deep fishing for prawns, the mountains beyond the bay and the quiet and laid back air of the seaside it felt like the perfect place to kick off our travels – with a rest.

Illustration of Cuban village Gibara

Doodle of Sunrise over Gibara

 

Our hosts in Gibara, at the casa particular called Villa Betina, were Angel and Betina; both were extremely welcoming and open with us. Betina, the house chef, cooked us some local delicacies and was happy to share her recipes with us and have Josh hanging out in the kitchen with her to see how it was done. The breakfasts here were my favourites and introduced me to some new fruits, for example Guayaba a red meaty fruit with a lot of pips that they use a lot in Cuba, great strong cuban coffee and the most delicious freshly made Mango juice that was Angels speciality (Mango’s in Cuba are a million times nicer than the ones you can buy in Europe).

Gibara casa particular Villa Betina

Villa Betina in Gibara

When a bit of shade and rest was needed, there was a nice courtyard and the friendly Grandmother of the house who was happy to discuss politics and was all read up on the news of the world in and outside Cuba.

 

The town itself has a lazy worn charm to it, with a few nice plazas shaded by old trees.

Plaza in Gibara

Evening in one of the plazas

In 2008 Gibara got hit by Hurricane Ike and areas of the town are still marked by this, although some houses had a fresh lick of paint (one house brightly painted blue on the first floor, the remaining paint used to spell out “Viva Fidel!” on the top floor)

At the back of the town we climbed the stairs up the hill to the Mirador (lookout) , where we sat and drank rum and looked at the vultures gliding lazily around on the sea breeze like big shadows and the mountainous bay view that Columbus was so taken with when he came here in 1492.

VIew over GIbara from the Mirador

View from the Mirador

The second day in Gibara we took the little ferry- which is more like a small fishing boat holding about 10-12 people- across the bay to go and search for a bit of beach. On the other side of the bay we trod along a dirt track for a while, avoiding as best we could stepping on the small hermit crabs that were hanging out in the tracks, until we got to a small cove of snow-white beach with turquoise waters lapping up onto it and no one but us there.

The beach with a view to Gibara

Floating on my back in the warm caribbean sea, watching the looming clouds over the mountains that never quite made it to where we were, this was probably one of the best monday mornings in my life.

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