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Log Book: Puerto de Vita - Cuba - May 13, 2004

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The morning's exploration of the Santiago de Cuba yielded a charming, old core with plenty of pockets to discover. There was the house of the explorer (forgot his name) which is reputed to be the oldest house in the Americas; the Museo del Ron - extolling the history and colorful development of rum; the corner warehouse where a new traditional music band was practicing; the Bacardi Museum, named after the original Bacardi family who were Cuban before they ran to the north to successfully merchandise their popular family drink; and a dozen or more potential 'guides' at every street corner waiting to get unwary tourists into a conversation.

We unfortunately did not stay as long as we would have liked to, as we had to get the car back the next morning and we weren't about to spend another night in a casa particular. Driving through the afternoon back to Vita we again got to endure more Maciek pothole dodging and points allotment, though to Luke's regret we didn't actually hit anyone.

Once back in Vita, we decided to visit Rita and Carlos in case they were having us for dinner that night. They were happy to see us and I talked animatedly about our trip in broken Spanish - Maciek being tongue-tied in the effervescent flow of my gilded tongue . To my chagrin, we found out that due to another communication error, I had told them we were coming back on Friday and not Thursday, and they were having dinner for us the next day. Unfortunately, we were planning on leaving the next day, so I told them with regret that we probably wouldn't be able to stay for dinner. They were very sad, they seemed genuinely to like us and want to treat us with all they had.

They were extraordinary examples of a most generous people, who, in spite of poverty and oppression, still smile sunnily and happily offer of what they have. We found that, outside of the bigger cities where there was more contact with outsiders like us from the commercial world, it was a common trait among the Cubans, to be givers and kind helpers of anyone they met. That was the most encouraging sign yet that a cruel system had not the power to shut down the human heart.

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