We stayed in a town a little out of Cienfuegos called Cumanayagua where Dennis’ cousin Raciel lived with his wife, Katy and her family! We were lucky enough to be warmly welcomed in and we were given a room with mattresses on the floor for us all to sleep on in a sort of sleepover arrangement which was cute! They may not have had adequate sleeping arrangements for us but they went above and beyond to make sure that we were able to stay with them which was great!
We stayed for two nights with the family and while we bought the food they cooked us up a delicious chicken dinner both nights which was more than we could have expected! We already knew we wanted to take a trip into Cienfuegos to see the French colonial buildings the town is famed for, however the family also advised us to visit the nearby Lake Hanabanilla to see some stunning waterfalls! Raciel and Katy even joined us to do the tours which was great as I am sure it is not something they would usually do alone!
Cienfuegos was a cute little town, the only qualm I had was that we didn’t have enough time there! We only passed through and saw the sights but I am sure that Cienfuegos has more to offer with it’s atmosphere and it seemed to be a pleasant place to walk around and explore! Maybe I will be able to return another time to explore it fully! On the other hand although we didn’t get to experience Cienfuegos we did experience something much more precious and rare; staying with a Cuban family. For two days we were included in their lives and their family, they showed us kindness and hospitality. They even said that if we ever came back we would be welcomed once again as family which is astounding! There were moments where it felt strange to be staying at someone else’s house but I feel blessed that it’s something I got to experience.
I find it sad as well that I probably will never be able to repay the favour and welcome them to visit England or wherever I settle. They advised due to their circumstances and the Cuban economy, travelling abroad is just not something that is feasible for them. A very sad state of affairs as Katy is a doctor and her father is a very accomplished metal-worker; both trades that are highly sought after and highly paid in many parts of the world! However in Communist Cuba they are paid very poorly despite long and tiring hours of work. That being said they are still one of the better off families I saw in Cuba which says it all really!