We never planned to go to the Bay of Pigs. Mind you we never planned on going to any of the places we visited in Cuba other than Havana and Varadero, we’d just gone through the Lonely Planet going “yep, that looks nice”, and “we’ll definitely go there” and then not booked anything. So after our first Casa owner had sent us to her friends Casa in the Bay of Pigs, and then when we pulled up in the arse end of nowhere, we felt fairly certain that we’d been had. Don’t get me wrong, her friend, our new Casa owner, was very nice – we were offered food and juice, and although we spoke different languages she was very smiley and welcoming. But as I’ve previously mentioned, we were in the arse end of nowhere.
The town where we were staying was scattered around a stunning lake so it wasn’t a problem being in the arse end of nowhere. We’d sit and look at the lake for 3 days. It would be nice.
It was quite late when we arrived so we decided that we would do just a little exploring to find something to drink. A short 20 minute walk confirmed that we were indeed nowhere, but that there was a restaurant suspended over the lake in nowhere. Other than this restaurant, nowhere had a couple of boats with holes in only half floating and a few local huts and Casas, and that was it.
We had a drink and decided to eat there the night after (thinking we’d have little other choice if we wanted to eat out) but for tonight we’d already told our Casa owner we’d eat there so we hurried back.
It’s already been said in one of our other blogs, but Cuba’s special for this – you often eat with the family that owns your Casa. Like a home stay, but more due to the fact that the Casa owner doesn’t understand our preconceived ideas of what good customer service is, rather than being part of a booked tour. The result is better customer service than we’re used to as you get treated like you’ve been friends forever. Our Casa in the Bay of Pigs was no different and the family made some pretty spectacular lobster. Everyone was left sat smiling at each other… Which sounds delightful but it was probably down to our lingual differences making conversation tricky.
In the morning, we decided to go for a long walk to really take in the beautiful nothingness that surrounded us.
“Oh yeah, that’s a nice nothing”
“I’ve never seen anything as nice as that not anything over there”
“Oh nowhere” and so on.
After 40 minutes of walking we thought we were seeing a mirage (even though we were well aware we weren’t in a desert). In front of us were loads of people on a sprawling beach. We ran… well, we jogged. Ok. Ok. We walked slightly faster. It was hot.
And it wasn’t a mirage, it was a holiday resort for Cubans! It wasn’t the first of Cuba’s beaches we’d seen, we’d also visited Cayo Levisa on a day trip from Viñales, but we were pretty excited by it. We couldn’t help but notice how much better a beach Cayo Levisa (a beach where many tourists visit) was to this one, but what this beach lacked in beauty, it made up for in spirit. Everyone holidaying here was laughing, playing, and many were heavily inebriated. One guy was even lying face down in the sea, and when he was rescued by his family, he stood up and went back to lie face down in the sea again. Thinking about it, he may have been a little too inebriated, but he gave us a smile as he was being carried away, so that was nice.
Another thing the resort had was moped hire, and as anyone who’s read any of our blogs before will know, we bloody love a moped. I like riding them, and Gemma likes falling off them (when she stops her legs don’t reach the ground).
It’s amazing what freedom a moped gives you. The roads all along the bay are stony and dusty with tropical fauna both sides, and they’re pretty empty too with the exception of a few horses and old American cars. It would’ve been possible to speed down them with the wind in our hair if it wasn’t for the fact that our moped only went about 25kph. I have to say ‘about’ because the speedo didn’t work. In fact, the seat didn’t lock and the mirror kept swinging off but our surroundings were too beautiful for us to care. Every stop off we made we saw (as Gemma would put it) felt-tip pen coloured blue sea, along with something else special – a plunge pool in the rocks, a museum about the battle held at the Bay of Pigs, and occasionally a bar for refreshment. Each special something was surrounded by a sea of nothing, and that emptiness made every stop even more special.
It was hot enough for a spot of snorkelling in the felt-tip sea ink (actually it was too hot not to snorkel) and after a slightly rocky start (literally, with actual rocks) it was stunning – crystal clear with fish that were as colourful as they were plentiful. Riding home we agreed that this may have been the best day of the honeymoon so far.
Eating garlic chilli shrimp in our restaurant over the lake that night we reminisced over a day we’d only just had, were still having even. Our arse end of nowhere town was still well and truly in the arse end of nowhere, but now it was actually pretty special. We’d spent all day exploring a whole section of a country that didn’t seem overly explored by foreigners. We’d relaxed on Caribbean beaches, swam and snorkelled in nearly deserted calm waters, discovered a tiny museum and now we were in the arse end of nowhere together eating some of the tastiest seafood we’d ever had.
We certainly hadn’t been had, and we couldn’t wait to hit to road again to see where else our first Casa owner had decided we should visit. She knew how to honeymoon! We looked at the next stop on our list… Trinidad. Probably nothing there, right?