After the amazing walking tour earlier today, I was ready for some lunch.

It was noon and I was starving.   All I had eaten today was a soft serve ice cream Hector has generously bought me while on his walking tour.

Time for some real food!


I stopped by a restaurant that people had previously recommended that was a couple of blocks away from where I was staying.

I climbed the stairs to their rooftop patio and was soon greeted with a happy smile.

My first question, as always now, was “are your ice cubes made with clean ice?”

I know, it’s a weird way to start a conversation with a server but, in Cuba, it’s especially important to glean this information from them.

The most common causes of food poisoning while traveling to countries where the tap water isn’t safe to drink is either through fruits and vegetables that have been washing in tap water or through ice cubes made with tap water.

Anyway, back to the question at hand.

If she said yes, I’d be drink a nice blended piña colada and if no, well, it would be coke no ice for me.

Sadly, she kind of gave me a puzzled look so I took that as a no and just order a coke.

#piñaoclock would just have to wait til later…

For lunch, I decided to have the Ropa Vieja again.   It’s a Cuban dish of shredded beef with rice and vegetables.

Simply amazing!

God, I love this dish.   The meat is so tender and I’m not sure what sauce it’s prepared in but it tastes great.

By 1pm I was done my lunch and heading out of the restaurant.

I hadn’t walked but 2 feet when I heard someone loudly exclaim “Man, there sure are alot of Canadians around here”.

A serendipitous reunion

I looked up and who did I see but the two couples I had met while at the tobacco farm a couple of days ago in Vinales.

Yes, my new friends Jensen and Anne from the Bahamas and Patrick and Catherine from the UK had just arrived here in Cienfuegos.

They were just about to walk past the restaurant I had just exited which meant if I had left just 2 minutes later, I would have never come across them again.

Serendipity, I believe they call it.

Anyway, since they had just arrived I, of course, recommended they go on Hector’s tour tomorrow and gave them Hector’s number.

I also messaged Hector that I had come across four people who would be contacting him about going on his tour.   To say he was thankful would be an understatement.

I just couldn’t believe how this was all falling in place.

There was just so much joy in me that I was able to help out Hector earn some more money.   I was positively beside myself and on a natural high.

How did they just happen to be walking past my restaurant at the exact time I was leaving and now I was able to send them on an amazing tour while helping out my new Cuban friend.

Like I said, serendipity!

Anyway, I gave Patrick my number and we all made plans to connect later to go for dinner.

This is the magic sauce of traveling.   It had been missing previously on this trip but now it was here in all it’s glory.

Meeting new people, making new friends, and reconnecting with them further down the road.

The great art hunt

As I said in the previous blog from earlier today, we had stopped at an art gallery on our walking tour.

I don’t normally but art and, really, I’m not much of an art guy.


I saw this piece of artwork on the wall that I knew I just needed to have.

Naturally, there was a cat in it.


The gallery/workshop was actually closed when we had gone there but Hector was able to talk the custodian working there to let us in for a quick look.

When I saw the art, I told the custodian I wanted to buy it and asked how much it was.

Of course, I didn’t know at the time he was just a custodian.   Regardless, he got on his phone and contacted someone and then quoted me $50usd.

Now, $50 is quite alot of money here in Cuba but, you know what, when you want something, you want something.

Sadly, I didn’t have $50 on me at the time and had to put off the purchase for a later time in the day.

When Hector and I left the gallery, he explained to me that the man was just a custodian and I was probably being overcharged.

And, Hector being Hector, actually knew the art director for the gallery and said he’d contact him to not only get a better price but so I could buy it from him personally.

Turns out Hector couldn’t get an answer from the art director but he said he’d still try later on in the day.

Fast forward a couple of hours.

I’ve done the tour and finished lunch.

Hector was still in town and he contacted me asking me if we could meet up and he’d take me back to the gallery to get the art.


So, we met up again and walked back to the art gallery.

No one was there.


Turns out there was some sort of miscommunication and the art director was actually not in town.

Oh well, at least we tried.

I asked Hector for the guy’s contact info and messaged him in Spanish telling him I’d like to buy the art but had a limited amount of time to pick it up.

No reply.

Hours passed and still no reply.

Oh well, like I said, at least I tried.

Then, at 11pm, he finally contacted me.

I could pick up the art tomorrow.

I explained that I only had a short window at 8am to pick it up as I was leaving town at 8:30 and it was all set.

I was buying some art at 8am tomorrow!

Simple right?

Haha, there’s more to the story but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s blog to see how it ends!

Dinner with friends

Eventually Patrick got ahold of me and we made plans to meet for dinner at 7pm.

We actually met at the same point the walking tour starts because, honestly, it’s probably the only landmark we all knew and could easily find.

For dinner we went to the same restaurant I had gone to last night when I first arrived in town.

I knew they had good food at reasonable prices and it was only a couple of blocks away.

After having so many dinners at a table for one this trip, it was really nice to share my table with four other people.

It actually felt like a real dinner filled with good food, good drinks, and good conversation.

Normally I’m in and out of a restaurant in a half hour cause what am I going to do there, just sit there silently admiring the view.

Nah, if I’m by myself, I chow down the food and get the heck outta there.

Tonight, our dinner lasted two and a half hours.

Like I said, there was alot of good conversation.

The two couples met over 40 years ago while Anne and Catherine were in college together.

Anne moved to Bahamas and met Jensen, a Bahamian, and have lived there since.   He worked in a power plant and she was a school teacher.

Patrick and Catherine were both TV producers.   She produced kid’s programs and he traveled alot producing documentaries about cool things in the world.

For dinner, I treated myself to some lobster.   Now, when I say treated myself, it means I spent 3200 pesos ($13) on dinner instead of the usual 1400-2000 pesos.

Oh, and, of course, I had four piña coladas cause, hey, it’s #piñaoclock!

In total, my bill was 5000 pesos ($20).

Yup, 20 bucks for a lobster dinner and 4 drinks.

Viva Cuba, indeed!

After dinner we parted ways but made plans to meet again in the coming days in Trinidad.

I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning and they’re either a day or two behind me.

So, yeah, it was good day.

Hell, it was a great day.

Serendipity at its’ finest!

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, Cienfuegos, Cuba
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