Me duele la Pierna (when Elle burnt a hole in her leg)

Welcome back to our blog – it gets dramatic today!

Glorious as the beach was, at some point we had to head back to our casa in Baracoa town-centre. It was afternoon nap time! Also our guide seemed to be having trouble with the concept of taking a photo of us underwater, and kept getting photos of just our chests. Sure it was an accident… all four times.

Like Wallace and Gromit, we gathered together our assorted shells, Cuban paraphernalia and various coconut bits and bobs and got back into our SIDE-CAR!

Bye Beach!

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After a quick stop at the driver’s house (we don’t know why but apparently that is totally normal in Cuba so we went with it) we arrived back at the casa.

At this point, tragedy befell us.

Elle the Engineer found out the hard way that exhaust pipes get hot. Rosie, who had previously burnt her leg on a motorbike exhaust, forgot to mention this in advance. Cue a sizzling noise and a smell a bit like bacon.

Rosie doesn’t respond well to incidents like this. Neither does Elle.

A few minutes after burning her leg Elle noticed it was looking a bit odd and that there didn’t seem to be any skin there anymore. She pointed this out to Rosie who PANICKED, rushed her to the bathroom and made her run it under cold water for 10 minutes. There was a stopwatch involved.

All would have been well had our bathroom had cold running water in a position under which a leg can be easily inserted.

It is at this point that Elle feels it is necessary to warn you that if you are likely to burn your leg on a motorbike at any point in your Baracoan stay, Arquímede and Bárbaras casa is not for you.

This happened:

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If you’ve never experienced the sheer, excruciating agony of holding yourself up by just your arms with your hands resting on a toilet seat that may or may not be entirely hygienic – and is certainly slightly slippery – whilst your arms replace every drop of liquid with lactic acid and pain, Elle can thoroughly recommend the experience. The feeling when it is over is absolutely sublime.

After Elle had been safely bandaged up and recovered the use of her arms (thank you mummy for packing a hospital grade first aid kit!) we finally had our nap.

Emotionally exhausting and physically brutal – what a day!

Thanks for reading our blog! Tune in again next week for more photos, tips and stories from our shenanigans in Cuba!

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¡Vamos a la playa! And casual machetes

Welcome to this week’s blog!

The motorbike pulled off the main road back to Baracoa and down a bumpy grass track. We stopped underneath a coconut tree (cue comments about falling coconuts vs. human skulls) and walked the two or three steps to the beach. WOW.

Sand stretched for miles

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We stopped in our tracks and gawked at the glorious blue-green sea and endless sky. Now THIS was the Caribbean paradise we had been waiting for!

But barely a few seconds went by and surprise surprise we were approached by the first local. This is one of the perils of Cuba. As pale British girls we stood out like sore thumbs, and tourists’  spontaneous generosity (we think this is a genuine symptom of sudden exposure to utopian surroundings) has not helped build a culture where tourists can pass undetected.

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In a flash, one man had become a gaggle of men and women trying to sell us fish, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shells, art and coconuts. We declined the shells and art, but the lovely woman selling her work asked that we photograph it anyway and show it off back home – which made us feel bad at how dismissive we had been. Not everyone is trying to get money out of you, sometimes art is just art. Check out the photo of her artwork:

Manglito art

We purchased some samples of coconut oil and cocoa butter before our guide came to the rescue and negotiated the best deal on coconuts the world has ever known. We got ten, yes ten!, for just 40 pesos (moneda nacional). That’s little over a pound. We went to the edge of the trees, and a couple of guys with machetes started hacking off the tops for us to drink the milk inside, after which we handed them back and they opened them up for us to scoop out the ‘masa’ (flesh).

This was the first time we’d seen a machete in person, but by the end of our trip they seemed as normal as a handbag (we coined the phrase ‘casual machete’). It’s Cuba’s multi-purpose tool of choice and everyone and their mother seems to have one. It’s a pretty funny sight to watch someone get out a great big whacking one and daintily chop up a passion fruit with it! Jokes aside though, machete prevalence – potentially worrying?

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Anyway, suddenly faced with an abundance of the sweetest coconuts we had ever tasted – there are varieties and these were the best of our trip, with soft flesh and delicious milk – we entered a frenzy, trying to consume as many as possible. All this while the coconut men commented on which one of us (‘the left or the right’) they preferred, laughing with us when Rosie broke her eating-induced silence to respond in Spanish. All in good fun!

Bellies distended, we put the remaining five in the sidecar and headed to the water.

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