Visiting Nuevitas Via our First Cuban Train Journey

I had never heard of Nuevitas until this day. A port town on Camagüey Province’s coast, it is not on the tourist map. Arriving to Camagüey from Holguín, Rocío and I hoped to go north to Cubitas for the Reserva Ecológica Limones Tuabaquey. Instead, the fruit cart man suggested catching the train east to Nuevitas. We wanted to experience a Cuban train ride so embraced his idea.

Our bicycle taxi driver advised we buy food beforehand as the train doesn’t sell any. 5 CUP (US$0.20) per fish sandwich later and we were set.

Fish sandwiches in Camagüey for the train journey to Nuevitas

Fried fish sandwiches in Camagüey for the train journey to Nuevitas

Taking a Cuban Train from Camagüey to Nuevitas

The daily Nuevitas train left Camagüey at 5:20pm with ticket sales beginning 4pm so we had time to observe the locals in the station and watch a freight train pass. Continue reading

Holguín and Catching an Ómnibus Nacionales Bus

Rocío and I wanted to catch a train on our Cuban trip at least once. Unfortunately, the Santiago de Cuba to Holguín train times weren’t convenient. Instead, Rocío around and we went trucking.

Sugar cane, Cuba's primary agricultural product

Sugar cane, Cuba’s primary agricultural product, between Santiago de Cuba and Holguín

We caught a passenger truck one third of the way (10 CUP/US$0.40 each) and then a second truck the remaining distance (2.50 CUC/US$2.50 each). Well, we thought it was taking us to Holguín. However, it dropped us off part way.

Passing through Birán, where Fidel and Raúl Castro grew up

Passing by Birán, where Fidel and Raúl Castro grew up

Slightly annoyed we got ripped off (in Cuban terms) for the second ride, I soon became glad we didn’t reach our destination. We were about to have a rare experience. Continue reading

Awesome Hot Chocolate and other Baracoa Food

Baracoa, known for its seafood, coconut, banana and cacao, stands out amongst Cuba’s generally plain cuisine.

Casa Fernando

Rocío and I enjoyed breakfasts and multiple dinners prepared by our hosts on our December 2016 stay. Casa Fernando prepared good food despite the limited ingredient availability.

Prawns first night at Casa Fernando

Prawns on our first night at Casa Fernando

For dinner we had choices of chicken, fish or prawns. This was usually preceded by soup and accompanied by salad and rice, bread or chips. Continue reading

Food and Arequipa – a Delicious Combination

Peruvian cuisine’s variety, taste and freshness make it South America’s finest. Although Lima has Peru’s best restaurants and food festival (Mistura), Arequipa is the city most synonymous with food. Following are culinary highlights from my time in Arequipa, including my favourite food from the city, country and continent: a true chocolate delight!
For ease of navigation I have divided the article into the following sections:

MARKETS

Mercado San Camilo

Doña Julia's juice stall, Mercado San Camilo, Arequipa

Doña Julia giving the thumb up behind the fruit at her great juice stall in Mercado San Camilo Continue reading

Deliciousness and Australian Songs at Festi Sabores 2016 – Arequipa’s Food Festival

Festi Sabores, Festival of Flavours in English, is southern Peru’s most important food festival and a highlight of the Arequipa calendar. With free entry, Festi Sabores is held at Plaza Yanahuara over multiple days around October-November each year. Rocío and I enjoyed the 2016 festival enough to attend two days.

Cuyassic Park, guinea pig stand, Arequipa Food Festival, Peru

Cuyassic Park: like Jurassic Park but selling roasted guinea pigs instead (cuy in Spanish is guinea pig) Continue reading

San Gaban and the Lizard Mouth

San Gaban is a pleasant village located on the Interoceanic Highway in the Puno Region between Puerto Maldonado and Macusani. Despite being only 100 kilometres’ drive north of high altitude, tundra-climate Macusani, San Gaban is lowland and hot year-round. This altitude and climate supports an abundance of tropical fruit.

A few kilometres east of San Gaban is the Lizard Mouth (Boca del Lagarto) or that’s what San Gaban locals called it. A natural swimming pool is at the mouth of the Chaquimayo River (Boca del Chaquimayo) just before it joins the San Gaban River. Nearby is Lizard Sanctuary (Santuario del Lagarto), a historically important series of ancient petroglyphs dominated by lizard motives.

San Gaban

Ice cream beans, cocona and monkey bananas, San Gaban

Ice cream beans (pacay), cocona and monkey bananas at a San Gaban roadside seller’s tiny stall Continue reading

San Gaban’s Third Annual Food Fair, Peru

Giant pineapples, diseased cacao beans and fruit I’d never heard of all featured at the third annual San Gaban Tropical Produce Agribusiness, Agriculture and Gastronomy Fair (III Feria Agropecuaria Agroindustrial y Gastronómico de Productos Tropicales).

Luckily Rocío and I were in San Gaban a few days before the 12 October 2016 fair and after seeing the poster we agreed to stay for the event. Village festivals have a special feel and tropical fruit is awesome so we were looking forward to this.

Third San Gaban Tropical Food Festival Poster, Carabaya, Puno, Peru

The fair poster lists cacao and pineapple sub-festivals Continue reading

Puerto Maldonado to San Gaban via Mazuko, Madre de Dios, Peru

After Brazil and a second visit to Puerto Maldonado in October 2016, Rocío and my intention was to return south to Macusani and visit Ollachea. In the shared taxi (colectivo) from Puerto Maldonado to Mazuko, the driver told us about San Gaban, north of Ollachea. His belief it was worth visiting was supported by another passenger. Our destination changed to San Gaban.

Outside of Puerto Maldonado the driver stopped for us to buy fish from a roadside stall. The grilled pacu and catfish tasted amazing.

Grilled catfish, outside Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Grilled catfish in the taxi form Puerto Maldonado to Mazuko Continue reading