WEIGHT: 47 kg
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The Cubans are such welcoming people, and Gladys's evening meals of pork, chicken and top quality home cooking were simply delicious.
Without a doubt, eating in private houses is the way to go. It's easy to sympathise with this method of storing water; one group of Canadian tourists we bumped into in town said they liked Cuba, but that there simply wasn't enough water. They'd been staying in hotels rather than casas particulares , and water can be a real problem; Manuel in Trinidad said it hadn't rained for a year though that very night the heavens opened and an almighty tropical storm dumped its load on top of us and Ricardo confirmed the same story though he didn't believe us about the rainstorm in Trinidad, so perhaps there's an element of bravado in the suffering too.
Water is delivered by tractor to many houses in the cities, but luckily our casa had a borehole in the garden with a hand-pump, so we never ran out. I've often found this problem with guidebooks. To use a guidebook successfully you have to get to know how the author thinks, particularly with Lonely Planet guides, which tend to be more opinionated than others incidentally, we also took the Footprint Guide to Cuba , which was better in almost all respects.
Some Lonely Planets have been excellent India and Australia spring to mind , some have been adequate such as Malaysia and Nepal and some totally out of kilter with my own approach to life like West Africa and Indonesia , and it seems the Lonely Planet Guide to Cuba falls into the latter category. It doesn't help that it's littered with annoying American phrases and spelling — I don't 'haul ass' or 'kick it' a great deal, and all the other Lonely Planets I've bought in England have bothered to put the 'u' into 'colour' — but all that is window dressing compared to the facts.
Its main draw card for tourists is the proliferation of plazas dotted throughout the city, some of which are rather pleasant and some of which are completely forgettable. We spent a very hot morning and afternoon wandering round the best of them, taking a long break at lunch in a pretty little restaurant which emptied of tourists as soon as we arrived, only to be replaced by what I can only assume were local girls having photographic makeovers.