After the cooperative farm we are supposed to have lunch at a restaurant between the farm and town, about 20 km out of town. When we get there two other buses from our ship are at the restaurant. There is no room for us or the passengers off the bus that pulls in right after us. The guide tells us we will have to wait in the bus, which is air conditioned, for the first two busses to finish eating before we can go in. If we wait we will miss the concert and theater tour plus the walking tour of Cienfuegos. I point this out to the guide and ask him what he can do about it. Apparently nothing, so I start making suggestions. Can he call us a cab. No they don’t come out this far. I have talked with several passengers and they are willing to skip lunch and go into town to do a walking tour and see the concert. So I suggest that they take one bus into town with those who want to skip lunch and those who want lunch can stay in the other bus.
“No, can’t do that.”
“Can you call someone to get permission or authorization?”
This is the communist mentality I am used to. If things do not go according to plan it is not my problem, or my responsibility, to try to fix it. So we sat on the bus for almost an hour and a half. The meal we ultimately had was good, with live music. But I missed the concert in the theater. Actually we had the choice of catching the last few minutes of the concert or walking around the main square looking at the Art Nouveau buildings. I chose the architecture but I never did get into the cathedral to see the stained glass. We were herded back to the bus to go to the ship. However, before we got to the ship the guide told us that there was a backup at customs so we stopped in the parking lot and sat on the bus for another half hour. The guide wanted us to remain cool and comfortable but we could have done that in the main town square, allowing those of us who wanted to see more of the town to do so. But that is not the communist way, not in Cuba, not in East Germany, not in the Soviet Union where initiative is not only discouraged, but often punished. In a strange way I felt like I had returned to Albania in 1993. (Those on other tours did better and had a good experience.)
But we did get to ride through a lot of streets in Cienfuegos and I tried to take pictures through rainy windows to a dark outside that made the bus windows like mirrors. And here are some of those pics. It reminds me of 50s American suburban neighborhoods. Some of the houses have window grilles like my did used to make out of extruded aluminum rather than wrought iron. Much of the public transport here is via horse drawn bus.