We couldn't wait to continue on our adventures through Ciego de Avila. My mother was anxious to get the day started and meet with more of her cousins. El Gato invited us into his kitchen for some cafe con leche and man was is it good. We had a quick bite to eat and hit the streets.
When we got to our cousin's house, there was so much energy in the home. Our cousin and "tour guide", Yosvany, had taken off the week to hang out with us and show us around all of Camaguey. It turned out a lot of our family members took off time just to spend time with us. It's incredible how important family is in Cuba. I have such a small family in the US and to see and feel this love felt very special to us.
We stayed a while longer and decided it was time to get this show on the road.
Yosvany wanted to take us to see some of the sculptures in a park not too far away, so we headed for, you guessed it, Jose Marti Parque. Same name as the other park but this was one much larger.
The sculptures were done by a local artist and were all over the park and the surrounding areas. These were all created using old car parts and metal scraps around town. Also if you didn't already notice, they were all in the shape of animals. Clearly my wife enjoyed the little hot dog one.
As we walked through the park you see everyone is keeping busy, one way or another. Children were cutting down the long grass and feeding it to nearby horses, older gentlemen sat by the reservoir and fished for their dinner, and not too far away were some young boys looking for bait in hopes of maybe catching a fish to eat.
On our way out of the park, we came across an old train car. It had been decades since the train station was running so now it's just an opportunity to take photos. It was time to head back and have a fiesta with alllllllllllllll the cousins.
When we arrived, Roberto had already started carving up the pork for the festivities. In Cuba, you can't just go and buy 20lbs of pork at the store. This is all done underhanded. It's the only way Cubans can really access anything they need. They contacted someone they knew who had recently slaughtered one of their pigs and we ordered 20+ pounds of pork for about $50.
People started to flood in as the family was getting ready. We were headed to my cousin Jose Luis' farm not too far away. While everyone got ready, Roberto wanted to show me the view from his workshop. He had been retired for a few years now but has continued working from home through the years. It would not be possible for him to stop working and live a decent life.
Jose Luis and Maribel hosted everyone in their home. They were amazing hosts and Maribel was a phenomenal baker. Whenever someone in town needed a cake, they ordered it from her. Their land had everything you could want growing on it: papaya, avocado, bananas, limes, guava, coconuts, you name it. He even had cut down some coconuts for everyone to drink from.
As the sun started to set, everyone started to arrive, and when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. We had over 40 cousins come out to meet us. We were really impressed that so many people had shown up in such short notice. I met my grandmother's sisters who I've heard so much about over the years, cousins of my mother's who she'd get in trouble with as a kid, second cousins who were close to my age and wishing to visit America one day. It was a remarkable experience that I'll remember for a very long time.