On arrival to Cienfuegos we were chuffed to find out our taxi was a Vintage Black Chevy with red leather seats.It was way cool and we felt like the bees knees all the way to the Casa.The Casa was strange; the owners had a fascination with plastic animals.There were crabs, lizards, crocodiles, frog (you name it) hiding all over the garden.The only real animal was the turtle swimming in the pool.I'm not sure way I had no fear but I can only put it down to the heat.I decided to cool off by sitting with my feet in the pool as I read.This was all very peaceful and relaxing until the turtle ....... yes the turtle bit my toe.The peace was broken by my pained scream.It really hurt.I truly believe it was trying to take my toe off.I expanded my Spanish vocabulary to "su galapoga morde me" (English translation - your turtle bit me)!
We met Emma from Brisbane and she invited us to join her on a private trip to El NIcho - a national park nearby.El Nicho is a beautiful park: wonderful walks and waterfalls.Our experience was slightly strange.We met Emma early in the morning and everything started off well.The agent said no problem and we agreed a price for the trip.So we went off with the driver who spoke no English with none of us speaking any Spanish - it was going to be interesting.The drive was long but the countryside was beautiful.We got to the lake and the driver took us on a boat for an hour ride to get to waterfall.It was lovely though the cheesy driver and boat man taking pictures of us on their mobile phone was a bit disturbing.It was a relief to be on the way back.When we got back to dry land, the boat man demanded money.He was not included in the agreed price.Well that was it.I used every Spanish word I knew to make them realise this was not on, we had not been informed, I was not happy, it was too expensive and not on their nelly.I think my flying arms and facial expressions helped with their understanding.They still demanded their money.Ann was throwing in Spanish words and Emma played good cop.We told them what we would pay and Emma got the money out for the boatman and the driver pocketed it! So we had to pay the boat man.At this stage we had no bargaining power and we couldn't be sure if he would take us home.He did but it was a quiet and fast ride and the bad feeling was overwhelming.It was a shame really but I am glad we did it because at least Emma wasn't on her own.
The city has a strong French influence and this can be seen in the beautiful buildings.One such building was the Club Cienfuegos.We decided to go in for a quick one ............7 mojitos later!!!!We had a great night.I danced all night with Manuel - a salsa king.I even met his Mum!!!Ann chatted to the bar tender - he had to keep leaving to serve drinks (an occupational hazard) and Emma met the beautiful DJ.Emma walked away with a beautiful ring. - as Beyonce would say "if you like it then you should have put a ring on it".It was a top night.
.......we got kicked out of our casa particulares the next day. I kid you not folks!!! Whiter than white me! The guy basically said that if we did not have all our meals there (breakfast and tea) then we should find alternative accommodation. So we did! We left in the heat of the day - they couldn't get us a taxi apparently. Well I prayed for a miracle and got one. The first taxi that brought us to the Casa turned up - remember a beautiful black chevy with a red leather interior. Let's face it; if you are going to be kicked out you should leave in style. We found a new casa which was a haven. It had wonderful people (they gave me a ring made out of a shell), good food (chicken in coca cola - better than it sounds), lots of cats (of course I made friends and one of them even came to sit with me), comfortable bed and a roof terrace overlooking the city. There is always a silver lining.
Cienfuegos gets an amazing write up in most travel books but not in this one.I was not enamoured at all.The place smelt, had no beach and very little to do.2 days at most I would give this place and I am being generous.So it's back to Havana.