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Baracoa Babes

    Back in Holguin, I rented a small car for 10 days to drive a circle northeast to Guardalavaca and Banes, new scenes to me, around through Mayari and Moa to Baracoa, out to the eastern tip of the island if I could, then west again along the south coast to Santiago and back up to Holguin by way of Belem and Mirador de Mayabe, where Pancho the beer drinking burro lives. That's less than a 3-day drive, but I wanted to have the car for a week in and around Baracoa, to see the beaches and the jungle.
    I made a quick tour of the extravagant hotels at Guardalavaca, which seemed extravagantly empty that day, considering Granma's claim that tourism was up. There's a small cluster of money drops there, of the kind called "the village" in tourist spas everywhere, so I wined and dined. I had an exceptional pasta at Pizza Nova, one of the improved new state restaurants challenging the going wisdom that the places to eat well in Cuba are privately run paladars in people's homes. The cook was a Canadian Italian.
    While I ate, I wrote in my notebook that, instead of letting outsiders build generic luxury spas, that tell the kind of tourists who like them nothing about socialism and give the foreign builders an apparently capitalist share of Cuba, they should have more slowly built real beach and fishing towns with a hotel room with private bath in every house. Every tourist could then have stayed with a Cuban family.
    Walking around Cienfuegos being invited into houses along my way for coffee, lemonade, or conversation, it's often struck me that there are more houses there with space to accommodate tourists than there are rooms at the Hotel Jagua. They could have razed the historically and aesthetically offensive Bautista block house and replaced it with a bigger, more beautiful socialist hotel without having to build it. Rent-a-units installed or improved or built into new houses could be treated as a single state hotel, not turning Cuban families into businesses, but with the housekeeper in each family who cooks and cleans for the guests being a peso-paid state employee.
    Of course, I also wrote that what had been done had been done and inertia had set in. What I consider Cuba's ill conceived tourist sector seems to have been rushed past a point of no return as urgently as if there were as little time as I think there is - or maybe the rushing was done by people in the government with a different view of the future than mine or Fidel's.
    Anyway, while I found the Guardalavaca palaces almost empty, enough tourists of a kind they didn't expect, who don't like pretentious spas, had bypassed them and driven on south to Banes, so that I found all but one of the rooms for rent in private homes there taken. And I took that one, as has been related elsewhere.
    Banes is a side trip, and trying to pass on through it next day, I got a little disoriented, so, returning through the center, I picked up three hitchhiking youths bound for a beach somewhere to pick their brains. One immediately started offering to set me up with a chica or whatever I else I wanted, and I stopped abruptly and ordered him out. Moving again, I explained my intense dislike for jineteros, especially in a communist country, to the others and, instead of defending their abandoned companion, they became very respectful and stayed with me for a distance past their turn to show me the intersection where I had to turn south.
    I picked up a woman there and dropped her at a farm road leading across dry fields apparently to nowhere. North of Banes, I'd wound through photogenic hills past palmy little farms surrounded by healthy green crops that looked unaffected by the drought further west. But now I was in a flat land of dead furrows, picking my way along a broken road that took its time getting to Mayari, where I stopped only long enough for a tuKola at the Bitiri Hotel, since the reverse charming waitress there (see interview #56, "Cubans Choose Socialism") told me I couldn't have breakfast.
    Not too far east, I picked up a girl going to Moa to visit her father. She had grown up in the ugly town, which I had been amazed to find totally militant in '02, since I would vote the grim cluster of edificios the town most likely to be escaped from. So I asked her what teenagers did there, and she confirmed at least that there are some beaches under the sloping town. Since the mountains there look wild, I had hoped there might be a jungle paradise to explore. Cubans are always telling me their jungles are completely safe, with nothing in them to bite or sting or poison people, but, though my passenger had known some boys who went exploring, she herself had never swung on a vine or swum in a jungle pool. But, of course, she loved her ugly home town.
    Her father was a moveable cook who fed different work crews where they happened to be, and she didn't know where he was, so we went here and there around Moa, confirming my aesthetic prejudices, until someone sent us the right way to cross his path. This took me near a smoky nickel plant, which I briefly visited to see if it looked worse close up and found it to be much like the Redwood City cement company where I worked a summer on the bull gang in my student days. Then I drove on down the lush jungle coast another 50 miles past some of Cuba's prettiest beaches to Baracoa. It was my easiest arrival in Baracoa so far. I'm talking about May, 2004.
    The first time I went there in 2001, the trip was almost as difficult as it had been for Columbus. I'm talking about the summer of '01 now. A fellow traveler and I got to Havana's small plane airport at 5 a.m., where they routinely processed his ticket to Guantanamo, from where we hoped to catch a colectivo to Baracoa, but said my ticket wasn't a ticket. It took an hour to get a rep to show up at the HavanaTur office in the airport. He insisted my piece of paper was a ticket. They still said no. He kept disappearing to telephone people and reappearing to assure me everything was OK. At 0630, my friend (I'm going to call him Fernando from now on) flew on, because the guy said he'd get me on the next flight in a few hours.
    He disappeared more completely then, and I learned there was no other flight. I went back to our Vedado house to drop off my bag and then to the agency, where they said they now had me booked on a flight to Santiago. They would drive me back to the airport and someone would meet me in Santiago and drive me to the Guantanamo airport. All that happened, but our destination turned out to be an empty building beside a runway out in a pasture, no cabs, no busses, no nothing, with a phone that didn't work, and the entire staff gone somewhere else until another plane was due. Fernando wasn't there, either. I hoped he'd gone on to Baracoa with other passengers in a colectivo I imagined might have met the plane. HavanaTur drove me to the Hotel Guantanamo at the edge of the city, where there were signs of life. It was late and threatening to rain by then, and the hotel, though nearly identical to the Mira Flores in Moa, which is the jewel of that town, seemed to me to have an ambience of despair.
    My choices: pay a real taxi $50 to immediately take me to Baracoa (there were two in front of the hotel), catch a bus the next day at 2 p.m. that would get me there at 6 or 7 in a downpour (the downpour was 90% predicted), or pay $35 to a kid with a maquina (a '53 Chevy that happened to be parked there) to take me first thing in the morning, which would be illegal, but it was the HavanaTur person who suggested it. I liked the idea because I used to have a '53 Chevy just like it.
    Since I felt filthy, tired, and unsure of myself, and it was starting to thunder and flash, I rejected the immediate taxi choice because it was an immediate choice, told the kid with the maquina I'd decide in the morning and went into the hotel, checked in so I could take a shower, and then learned the water was off. That's happened to me only 3 or 4 times in Cuba, but it happens to me all the time in Mexico and Central America. Life would be easier for flesh and blood beings with pores and etc. if they weren't flesh and blood beings with pores and etc. Finding my room had a partly rainy balcony, I considered stripping and standing on it, but, instead, locked the balcony door, which was a struggle because the bolt and slide weren't aligned, and took the only out left - the also waterless hotel restaurant. By that time, in mocking contrast to the plumbing, it was pouring outside. I told the waitress, Yenny (short for Yenysi, Cuban for Jennifer) that I was having an adventure.
    She told me they could make sandwiches (ham and cheese, of course) and had Mayabe Beer, so I limited myself to worrying about Fernando, whom I'm calling Fernando because I'm not naming any American who's been to Cuba while Washington is still held by fascists who go around at night arresting people without charges. I went out to the desk and called the house in Havana, but the woman there hadn't heard from him. I hoped he was in Baracoa and not lost. Fernando had gotten lost with amazing ease in Nicaragua the last time he'd traveled with me.
    I reminded myself in my notebook that I'd seen Cayo Granma looking very chic from the air, as we'd come into Santiago, and riding out of town with a HavanaTur person who'd met me virtually at the foot of the plane's ladder, I'd seen some pretty south Santiago neighborhoods I hadn't seen before. Tired and worried and pissed off as I was, it had been a beautiful plane trip, including a good view of the country around Holguin when we briefly skipped down and out of there. But I didn't like where I was and I was going to like it less.
    I think being sweaty, disheveled, and visibly tired was my downfall. I looked vulnerable. And I was targeted, probably, by a jinetero hanging around who came to my door once trying to change pesos for dollars, and again trying to cut in on my arrangement for a ride with his "friend," whom I then also worried about, though the kid with the car was plainly OK. The jinetero was an insinuating type who would probably claim I was his friend while planning to rob me, which I believe he later did, though I don't absolutely know that.
    The robbery itself was hard to believe, especially because I don't trust my old mind anymore. I forget where I lay things down. I get confused about what to do first, etc. So even though I knew it happened, I kept thinking with part of my mind that I was forgetting something. The facts, however, were so certain I could reconstruct the crime like Sherlock Holmes. An unlikely movie crime - but it happened.
    I had 5 rolls of bills very well and securely hidden in my Levi's but feelable. Every time I put my Levi's on or took them off and several times a day I felt and counted them, and 5 isn't a count you can be unsure of. I took out one roll in Havana to buy a plane ticket. That roll became $100 less than the others. Of course I counted it and I also knew where that roll was hidden. It was still there later, still $100 short. No surprise. It was hard to get the rolls out, almost impossible when my Levi's were sweaty and damp. They couldn't fall out.
    When Yenny finally told me the water was on, I hadn't had my Levi's off since Havana. I had locked both doors to my room before dinner, but when I went back, I assumed the balcony door was still bolted and didn't check it. Showered back to life and in a clean shirt, I went downstairs to call Havana and got Fernando's message, an address in Baracoa where the people would be expecting me, and left a message for him just that I'd gotten his message and would be there next day.
    So all was well. I read a little and wrote a little and went to bed. I opened the balcony curtain so daylight could tell me when morning came but didn't look at the door bolt, which by then had to have been released, obviously from the inside. I rolled my Levi's and put them beside my pack on the chair by the bed (since then I've never failed to put them under my pillow).
    I slept way too deep, unusual for me, but I was tired. When my mental clock woke me at 6, I saw the curtain I'd deliberately opened was closed. No! I almost leaped from the bed to the balcony door. It was open. Then I saw my Levi's draped over the chairback. My passport carrier was jammed, not neatly, into the wrong pocket. I opened it. No passport visible. Aye! Aye! Aye! But the passport was stuffed into the wrong compartment, hard to do since it was jammed against my Mexican money.
    My wallet was still in its place, ID and money there, but I could feel only four of the hidden rolls. Damn! I looked in the sheets and under the bed. I took out all the rolls and counted them - l, 2, 3, 4. The short roll was there. I had not removed any other roll. I knew which one was missing. It was the easiest to get at, but impossible until my Levi's dried, way after midnight for sure. Then, it could be worked out fairly quickly, but it couldn't fall out. I actually disassembled the rolls and counted the money, which was just therapy. I was still short the amount of one roll - obviously, with the balcony door open and my Levi's rifled.
    It was scary to think of the sneak thief hiding on the balcony, listening until my snoring was regular, coming in as quiet as death, going through my pockets, feeling at least one of the bumps, guessing what it was, and being calm enough to work it out, and all that happening right beside me while I slept. I must have stopped snoring or turned over, startling him so he dropped my Levi's and retreated out the door, closing the curtain to block my view of the balcony where he stood and listened again until he decided to take what he had. I was lucky he hadn't taken my Levi's.
    But there was nothing to be done. Maybe the cops knew the jinetero and wanted something on him, but maybe not, and I couldn't prove anything, I didn't want to involve anyone who didn't deserve trouble, I wouldn't get the money back, and I didn't want to be uselessly delayed by any kind of bureaucratic police procedure.
    Cuban cops, like the Sandinista cops in 80's Nicaragua, are far better than most. They aren't fat, they're not legalized motorcycle gangsters or officious boy scouts with guns. Often enough, they don't have guns, and they tend to be polite almost to a fault. I've seen them in action, and Cubans always argue with them without fear. But they're cops, and they're bureaucrats, who butt into your life and waste your time. Anyway, I don't cry long about definitely lost money. The robbery was one small piece in the mosaic of my Cuban experience, important because it may have been the worst thing that ever happened to me on the island.
    The sun was shining, the kid was out front polishing his Chevy, and the only problem that needed thinking about that morning was that he still had to fill the gas tank. And that wasn't on my mind, either, because I still didn't know about it or how long it was going to take. It wasn't a problem, anyway, since I got an extensive tour of Guantanamo - the Cuban city not the U.S. base - as he filled the tank a gallon, a quart, a pint at a time.
    He tried the back doors of the gas stations first and got nowhere with that, but he wouldn't have tried if it wasn't possible. All the gas he got came from different houses and, I assumed, was stolen, one way or another, from the boss, i.e. the state. So, having failed to report one robbery, I was abetting some others. It took a lot of the morning and involved several neighborhoods, and I got both another look at the famous Cuban black market and a good look at another town.
    As for the black market, this was a typical example in that what was acquired was not critical and also in that nobody seemed bitter or exasperated about the tediousness of the process. It was partly a social opportunity and partly an interesting scene in the novela that Cubans like to make of their lives. As for Guantanamo, it reminded me of some places I know in Nicaragua, Rivas a little, since there were so many bicycles and horse carts, Chinandega more, because of the almost oriental bustle in the narrow streets where two horse carts meeting could cause a traffic jam. But it was like Nicaragua with floors and solid walls. I saw no sign of a dirt floor or of cooking smoke coming through porous walls. The kid said he didn't know of anything like that. When I described Nicaraguan poverty, he told me nobody in Guantanamo lives like that. He had a job and didn't consider himself either poor or desperate. The only reason he wanted my $35 was to get some things to fix up the car.
    He was one of those Cubans who point toward sunrise, noon, and sunset to dramatize an assurance that Cubans eat three times a day. "But you don't eat beef," I reminded him. He said he did "a veces." Sometimes. Chicken and pork are on the ration, subsidized. I've seen fish being distributed free, and Cubans have gotten past their traditional disdain for fish. Yet I meet internal gusanos who lament the reservation of most beef for the tourist trade as if it were a human rights abuse. Maybe it is. Parading the apparent wealth of splurging tourists in front of Cubans seems to me to be the only real human rights abuse happening in Cuba, though it's a safe bet it won't ever be listed that way by the CIA's phony human rights front. And the Chevy kid didn't think so, either. He explained the importance of tourism and insisted that "everyone" in Guantanamo is militant. This is interesting because every embedded U.S. reporter who goes there for an hour to look through the fence somehow finds a starving and bitter dissident to talk to.
    Late as we started, an hour, or maybe two hours out, we passed a Swiss couple on bicycles, who had left the hotel when I did. I would see them the next day in Baracoa and later in Holguin and in Cienfuegos. That's the way to see a mostly level island, I thought. But they camped at Cajobabo Beach to get their strength up for the toughest climb in Cuba, which I cruised over in the old Chevy. In fact, we stalled once and had to overcome a vapor lock, a phenomenon I'd forgotten existed, to start again. But the car didn't heat up. Baracoa used to be cut off except by sea until the road we were on was pushed over the pass in the 60's. Now it's a steep and winding but easy drive through a beautiful jungle, up and over, past numerous panoramic vistas, to the tropical coast of Baracoa.
    Driving a road like that in a car, if you've looked at a map first, is the best way to understand terrain, and I'd carefully studied a beautiful if not perfectly accurate map of that part of Cuba, that I bought in a map store on Calle Mercaderes in Habana Vieja. The following year, '02, I would come to Baracoa by air, in a small, low flying propeller plane with a balcony view of Cuba's biggest and bluest rivers threading the wooly green mountains and of the dramatic El Junco Mesa, of the coastline north of town, and of the beach, the jungle, and the bay as we dropped birdlike into the miniature airport. And when I left town in '02 (I'm talking about 2002 now and my second visit to Baracoa; no need to get confused), headed north for Moa, I went by taxi up the same coast I'd seen 10 days earlier from the air. My driver detoured to show me the tourist resort at Maguana Beach and, before finding the main road again, zigzagged a few miles along a dirt road through the woods past several isolated old houses, all of which had been updated with floors, water, and electricity, but some of which were partly made of grass.
    So, approaching from the north in '04 in the rental car (now I'm talking about 2004 again, when this chapter started and I was on my way to Baracoa for the third time), I knew some landmarks and some of what to expect. After finding the moveable cook and visiting the nickel plant, I'd picked up a pair of hitchhiking school kids leaving Moa, but they hadn't gone far, so my trip down the same coast I'd taxied up in '02 was quiet and seemed longer than I remembered, because the road was slow where heavy rain, I suppose, had completely disappeared the pavement and it was slower where just enough of the pavement had survived to get in the way.
    Most of Cuba's roads are fair to good, but the 50-mile gap between Moa and Baracoa is apparently not considered a vital link. A few camiones (trucks with benches installed in their beds) carry a few Cubans back and forth, but the busline from Santiago ends in Baracoa, and the busline from Holguin ends in Moa. It's a rare traveler who ever thinks of going any further past Baracoa than Maguana Beach, and it's a rarer traveler who ever goes trough Moa to Baracoa. So driving slowly didn't mean I got in anyone's way. All it meant was that I saw some things I hadn't seen before, like an idyllic cemetery sloping down through the palms toward the beach, some weird lava rock formations beside the road including one that needed only a table cloth, a glass, and a chair to be cocktail table, and a selection of small white beaches there for the taking if I'd had a beach blanket, a lunch basket, and a woman.
    When I finally came to the Maguana turnoff, I knew that only a little further on I'd cross the Rio Toa, and a little beyond there I'd come to Baracoa. But I was tired of driving, so I told some hitchhikers standing there I'd get back to them later and took the sandy entry road to the resort for a break. But I came to an unremembered fence with a closed gate. From her nearby porch, a Maguana woman told me I could have lunch at her place and walk to a different beach with no fence around it, but I could also rouse the resort by honking if I thought I had to.
    Instead, I examined the gate, found that the padlock was only hanging, hung it in a friendlier spot, pushed the gate open and drove down to where I thought the taxi had parked two years before. Nothing looked the same, except the white sand beach where I could see about a dozen tourists. I found some small shady but unwaited tables against the wall of a designer looking, polished wooden building where a European scribbling in a notebook told me it was more a hotel than a restaurant and there was a desk inside. There was, but nobody was at it, so I gave myself a tour, including looking into an open vacant room, and finally found a fancy snack shack in the trees near the beach with one staff person, who had nothing ready to eat and only unwillingly sold me a beer, which I took back to the shady tables. Another guy dressed like a waiter came from up the road and asked if I wanted a room, which I declined, wondering if he'd locked me in.
    Leaving, I met two guys wading a stream beyond the fence near my car with a big fish they wanted to sell me. "I don't have a kitchen," I said. They did, at a house on a nearby beach, where they'd cook the fish for me. "Maybe another time," I said, wondering if I was making a mistake, and drove back up to the gate, which was, sure enough, locked. After I'd honked the key keeper back up, as I drove out, the porch woman waved at me again and I thought next time I would do it her way.
    The hitchhikers were gone, but I picked up some kids again on the other side of the river and took them to where they lived near the chocolate processing plant. Baracoa has chocolate, coffee, rice, coconuts, a number of fruits and vegetables, and tourism. There's a modern hotel by the airport that doesn't interest me at all, and another big hotel on the slope above town. And there are plenty of rooms to rent in houses.
    In '01, Fernando had found us a magazine centerfold room at #86 Maceo with a balcony overlooking the main street and, looking for other tourists to share a cab back to Santiago with us, we visited a dozen other casas with rooms that would be worth $100 apiece as bed and breakfasts in Santa Cruz, but go for $10 or $15. In '02, the prettiest girl on the plane, after studying me in her cosmetics mirror, had given me her parents' card and, when her house had turned up full, had walked me around several houses with rooms to rent in her neighborhood. I stayed in three houses in '02, and, looking again for tourists to share a cab to Moa, I saw more. So when I arrived in '04, I knew where to go. Baracoa is so full of rooms in private houses; I've never considered a hotel. I use the bar and restaurant in Hotel La Russa because it's historically interesting.
    But in '04, I had to think of the car. Only one casa with rooms was known to have a garage, and that was taken. "But you can just park in front," everyone said. "Nothing will happen to your car." It wasn't my car, so I parked at the curb beside La Russa, at the hotel's suggestion, because someone is theoretically always awake there. I don't know if that mattered, but it was parked there for seven nights and nobody touched it.
    A family I'd stayed with before who were no longer renting rooms because they said there weren't enough tourists to justify the price of the license, walked me to the home of a friend who had what I needed. My room, a short walk from my parking place, was a kind of small second story penthouse with a lot of windows and two stairways, one inside leading down to breakfast, one outside, very good for coming in late, which I expected to do in Baracoa.
    For such a small town, Baracoa has a small but rich concentration of nightlife around the small triangular central park in front of the small, possibly leaning church (they say it's leaning and sometimes I see it and sometimes I don't). The center of action, across a narrow street from the church and park and right beside the take-out window of a Chinese restaurant that sells miniature pizzas, is the Casa de la Trova, where local youths who can dance like nobody's business like to show off. Tourists who can dance find themselves popular there.
    Because it's the only tourist town between Santiago and Haiti, Baracoa draws a few chicas from Moa and Guantanamo looking to score. Put a tiny asterisk after whatever you've heard about Cuba's supposed sex industry. It's not an "industry." It's not even a unified "it." In fact, there are Cuban girls and men who, separately, very individually and usually very amateurishly, hustle male and female tourists - not in red light districts or houses; there's no such thing. They show up in places where tourists gather and stay, rather than just tour through. Baracoa is like that, and it's well set up for romance, but it's also isolated and hard to get to, so there's some action there, but not much, and much less now than in '01, when there wasn't much, either. Actually, even in '01, Fernando and I saw only three or four clearly working chicas in Baracoa and a small group of possibly working, possible transvestites.
    In '01, hustling in Cuba must have been at it's peak. In '00, I saw no sign of it, in '02 very little, and in '04 even less (in '05, there is almost none). But in '01, there was quite a bit - in Havana, not in Baracoa, and not a lot anywhere - not a lot compared to, say, Tijuana, but there were more than a few independent, mostly amateurish hustlers then, who ranged from naively charming to cynically cunning, from gold diggers who probably considered themselves the serious girlfriends and boyfriends of tourists, to whores and gigolos contemptuous of their marks. They were wherever tourists were, but, even then, they were concentrated in only a few places. When we arrived in Havana in '01, Fernando and I immediately encountered a small crowd of flirting chicas, all decked out in slinky gowns or mini-skirts and platform shoes, at Sofia's all night coffee shop in Vedado, and up La Rampa from there for several blocks.
    After we got tired of telling girls we weren't paying for sex and feeling sorry for them because they were all failing so miserably, we decided to play along with the pitch of two girls at an outdoor cafe. They didn't look as serious as the girls in Sofia's, but they were hustlers, just not the kind of examples the Miamistas would want. Exactly like the girls I met in 1989, they weren't asking for money, just hoping rich tourists would buy them gifts. But, also like the girls in '89, they had no place to go. They'd heard there were hourly hotels, but they didn't know where. Maybe our rooms? No way. We were counting on our hostess as a useful friend. So we talked to them about themselves instead.
    Of course, they were from out of town. Even in Havana, the chicas usually are. One of the two was from Bayamo, and she thought there were some really serious hookers who might need money for food. She didn't know any hungry people, but she'd heard there were some. Her friend said absolutely not. Not since the depression. "It's not like in '89 yet," she said, "but nobody's hungry." She didn't know what motivated the other girls.
    The girls we talked to on another night in the Monserrate bar downtown, a look-alike, cheaper alternative to La Floridita, a block away, did want money. We asked how much, and each one said, "Tu me digas." "You tell me." So we called their bluff, and they laughed, and we eventually found out their hopes varied between $20 and $35, and I doubt they scored twice a week. But in '01, we found them brazenly obvious in two small parts of Havana, fairly visible but cautious around the Casa de la Trova in Santiago, catchable when we fished a bit in downtown Camaguay, and very few but bold in Cienfuegos and Baracoa. That was in '01. Since then, due to crackdowns or the improving economy, Cuba's "sex industry" has withered, and what there is has become cautious. I've heard there's a lot of action in Varadero, but that's not Cuba and I never go there so I don't know. In 2005 (this is obviously a later amendment) I saw almost no evidence of prostitution in Cuba.
    In '01, Fernando, being romantically inclined, though not interested in pros, tried constantly with the island's famously hot good girls, and scored once in Pinar del Rio, which was kind of sad, because the girl lost her head over him. I was drawn to the dissident guard mentioned in "Cubans Choose Socialism" (also on this website) and took her out that year and again in '02, before she "fled" to Brazil. But I'm talking about actual "dates," as fiftyish as Cuba's old cars. She was religiously "moral." In Baracoa in '01, where Fernando, for a change, went unmolested, I was pursued relentlessly for three days by an uninhibited hooker from Guantanamo, a Guantanamera, who finally gave up and became an intimate friend, instead.
    Fernando and I were inside the Trova in Baracoa to hear the music, when most people were still out in the street looking and listening through the big open-air windows, and most of the chairs, lined up three rows deep against two walls inside, were still empty. We'd already been introduced with plenty of flourish by the popular comic who mc's, as two aficionados who'd come all the way from California to hear the famous band playing that night (the one that plays every night). I glanced at the door just as a woman who could objectively be described as dazzling came in and stuck her tongue out at me. She wasn't in what we'd started calling the uniform - no elevated shoes, no mini-skirt or silky gown - just a bright orange blouse and long white shorts. But she entered with an air that meant the movie had just started. "That girl's tongue," I told Fernando, "is the same color as her blouse." "What girl?"
    She'd disappeared into the seat beside me. "What did you tell him about me and why are you laughing at me?" I told her and she looked down across her tongue at her blouse and said it wasn't true. She asked me if I had a Cuban girl friend, and I pointed out my silver hair and beard. She said she liked older men, and in a country where the national idol is 10 years older than me, I could have kidded myself, but I told her, "Listen. I''m not here looking for girls, and I don't pay for sex." Saying that had become a habit in Havana.
    "OK," and then with the All-Cuban smile that comes from free dental check-ups every six months, "Do you want to dance?" I said if she danced with me she'd never want to again. And that turned out to be true, but she didn't want to leave and she hadn't paid her peso to get in. So I found a peso in my pocket and gave it to the doorman who's always there on cue. Paying the one peso admission (I mean one peso moneda nacional, i.e. 4 cents at the bank) is the ceremonial introduction. It makes the girl your date, and the music and dancing are why you're there, which stymies the easily stymied cops, if there are any.
    There are in Havana, and the ones we asked outside Sofia's told us, "It's not against the law to dress up sexy and come downtown at night." Prostitution is illegal, but the Havana cops said in '01 they had to almost catch people in the act. In Santiago, if a single girl is seen repeatedly hanging around the Trova, she'll be carded - her carnet number recorded - to see if she's suspiciously regular and keeps leaving with different men.
    But nice girls also wait outside the Trova in Baracoa, dressed to dance, where their boyfriends or secret admirers can find them. It's warm, the big windows let the music come freely out to them, and they're safe enough there by the park full of respectable citizens in the shadow of the church. And leaving to go across the park for a quieter tuKola between dances is just what people do. There're a lot more innocent youths in the terrace café across the park than there are hustlers. A girl from Moa told me in '02 that she thought there are undercover cops watching in Baracoa, but that's a stretcher in a town where everyone knows each other.
    Every cop I asked in '02 swore there had been no crackdown, so I don't know what suddenly happened to the so-called sex industry in Cuba. Whatever it was affected the jineteros, too - the male con artists who drive tourists nuts and whose numbers also peaked in '01. I'd seen them in '00, and there were a lot more jineteros than chicas pestering us in '01. But they were also almost gone in '02 and at least not swarming in '04 (and in '05 both jineteros and chicas were closer to gone than in '02). Maybe they were relocated (with "job training"), like rogue bears moved from Yosemite Valley to higher mountains, as several approving Cubans (but only one cop so far) have told me. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe Fidel made some persuasive speeches. I know there was propaganda. I saw a long story in Granma, an interview with a girl who had done wrong, got caught, gone to jail and reformed, and was, or course, telling other girls to be good.
    The story of me and the charming Guantanamera was just corny except that she was black. I'd always thought I was genetically not attracted to black girls, since there was no other explanation. But in Cuba I learned fast that my genes draw no lines at black girls who don't seem to know they're black. Every black person in America goes around thinking inside his head, "I'm black. I'm black. I'm black," so loud you can almost hear it, because America, being a place where the importance of being successful and having money and looking right is actually taught in the schools and by the media and the advertising industry, is incurably class and therefore race conscious. Everybody, of every race, for good or bad reasons, is preoccupied with race - they never shut up about it - and it's a turn-off. But in Cuba, where they effectively outlawed racism in 1959, and where half the people seem to be mulato anyway, everybody acts and talks not the same but on the same level, which is very relaxing, and you stop noticing colors in a week or two, and an old white man starts seeing just the smiles and curves and personalities of girls of all colors.
    There was a blonde from Canada or England or maybe America there that week (I'm still talking about '01) who was popular with the good local dancers, and she decided she liked me because I told her what a good dancer she was, and, knowing I wasn't blathering, she was too flattered. She and her friends were at the same house with us, and I'd won her friendship at the house. Then, at the Trova that night, as I always do there, I bought a fistful of peanut cones from the vendor outside and handed them out to all the girls I knew, the girls from the house being on my left and the girl from Guantanamo, still trying, on my right. So she saw the electricity, got jealous, and walked out, which I didn't notice. But Fernando noticed it and told me, so when she came back, I introduced her to everyone as a friend from Guantanamo - as a part of our group of out-of-towners, which may have worked better if the blonde had spoken better Spanish, because few tourists go to Guantanamo, and she was a good person, wide awake enough to be interested.
    There was another European woman who sort of joined us that night, though, who was very predatory and whom Fernando and I would meet later in Santiago with a jinetero she'd picked up and was taking around with her, and this woman apparently antagonized the Guantanamera so much that I had to explain to her again in the privacy of Spanish that we were all friends and I wasn't buying or selling sex from or to anyone.
    The next day, she walked with me and Fernando to the park where a little wooden stand called El Rapidito sells vanilla ice cream one day and chocolate the next from the factory about three blocks away, and where there's a half statue of Columbus that seems buried to its waist. A guy asked Fernando what time it was by his watch and then, "Hey mon, whair you frome?" in English, and I said, "Otro jinetero mas," and she got icy angry and told me I should judge people separately. Some tough chica, I thought.
    Of course, I told her she was right except that we had been pestered constantly by jineteros and had very understandably lost all our patience. Fernando was so fed up with them, he was starting to blame Cuba. Actually, jineteros don't make up a significant fraction of a percent of the people, but they make sure the tourists meet them and, to us, they seemed to be swarming in '01 and they were easy to get fed up with, so I said maybe I shouldn't be judged so fast, either. Well, maybe, but she didn't go on with us to the ice cream factory that day.
    The next time I saw her, she'd gotten over it and we were finally just good friends and I wasn't a mark she was trying to make money from anymore, which was good because it smoothed the way for us, and that night, the music seemed very good as we marked the tempo on each other's knees and, after Fernando and also the girls from England or Canada or America had gotten tired and gone home, we closed the Trova, and then we closed the soda stand on the malecon.
    She asked if she'd been pestering me too much, and I remembered my rant about jineteros, but though everyone recognizes the feminine form of the word, I rarely hear it used. In spite of the ambiguity, jineteras are called chicas, and everybody likes the chicas. I said of course not, but, though it was not my business, I thought she should ask the employment office for a job and set an example for her daughter, since lots of Cubans live fine off their peso salaries. She told me she had a job in Guantanamo but sometimes she visited friends in Baracoa or Santiago and tried to make some dollars for extras. Which she wasn't doing, I reminded her. "Aah... no me importa," she flashed me her bright healthy Cuban smile.
    At about 3 or 4, she wanted to go home with me to help me pack, but I didn't want to wake up Fernando, because we thought we were taking a camion to Santiago at dawn. Fernando had come from the Guantanamo airport in one. But the incredibly cheap camiones are part of the peso economy which is only for Cubans if there is a bureaucrat present who insists on it, and there was, so we had to go back to the dollar economy where tourists sometimes belong and take the regular bus a few hours later.
    Fernando always asks me if I've seen the Guantanamera again, but I haven't. The next year, I met a few different chicas at the Trova there (see "Cubans Choose Socialism"), and in '04 I met different ones again. I think chica careers in Baracoa are short because the chicas are usually girls between prep school and a job or girls from distant working towns who come in groups for one-time flings, which describes the girls I met in '04, except that they weren't hustlers. In '04, in Baracoa, I saw only one chica probably trying to hustle, a girl it's objective to say "gave me the eye," but wouldn't make the first move.
    After I'd parked the rental car and settled into my penthouse in 2004 (I'm talking about '04 again), I bought a bottle of Pinar del Rio wine (Soroa) at a dollar and peso store and walked to the tiny home of an artist couple I know. Their door was shut but a man across the street who'd been introduced to me in '02 as a fellow mason told me, "Ya viene," and I saw them coming down the steep street from the center carrying bread, which was just what we needed.
    The artist and I sat in chairs in the street sipping wine while his wife, who had opened the wine and served it, cut bread for us in the hot little kitchen, which was visible and audible to us because the house is not much more than a slot in a row of such slots. She was a productive artist in her own right but she did the cooking and serving and tended to let men talk. She was vivacious when prodded, though, and reminded me of a Nica, and she was eager to show me a painting she'd just done and was going to replicate as an attractive souvenir piece for tourists who she hoped would buy it to remember Baracoa.
    Her techniques had improved since '02, and the picture, a brightly colored comic cartoon image of a traditionally dolled up mulata sitting alone in the park apparently pining for someone, the church with its eastern steeple tilted perilously in the background, would symbolize Baracoa missing the tourists who hung it on their walls. I was impressed and told her that if I weren't on a long journey with a backpack, I would like to buy the original for my daughter, and during the rest of the week I was in town, she kept holding it up for me, saying, "Piensas, Glen, piensa-a-as." "Think about it, Glen, keep thinking about it."
    The last time we'd talked, the artist had predicted that the census they were taking then would show the island's population stabilized, because anyone could see that women were having only one or two children, and he had been right. I told him about the nearly empty hotels in Guardalavaca that made me wonder about Granma's reports of a tourist boom. He thought tourism was down in Baracoa, and after that I was going to hear the same wherever I went. We also talked about the internet and about chicas. He thought all the chicas were good girls and if they said they needed money, he said he believed them.
    "But they all say they need to buy shoes for their only kid," I objected. "So if they score twice a week, does the kid get 104 pairs of shoes a year?" I told him about the museum guide in Cienfuegos who said all they really wanted were platform shoes for themselves and jewelry and slinky gowns, and about the chica I'd questioned about her needs in Baracoa who'd confirmed exactly that. In '04, they weren't dressing like that, but the new subdued fashions may have cost even more.
    I wanted to find a place to wash the car and the artist and his wife said they'd help me wash it in the Rio Duaba. We tried the next day at the river mouth, got stuck in the sand, and had to be pushed out by people who live there. Then we drove up the river road, past a factory which they told me turns coconut shells into charcoal, until we found a solid gravel bar barely above water level and washed the car very well there, so I invited them to ride with me to La Maquina.
    Several people had told me I couldn't leave Baracoa by way of the eastern tip because the road past La Maquina was closed to outsiders for security reasons, so I'd decided to drive just to the supposedly interesting coffee town and back, but when we'd climbed the dangerously steep and tightly winding grade beyond Yumuri, we came immediately to a road block, not military as it would have been in any other country, just an old man with a lowered boom. He said Cubans could pass but tourists couldn't. But I protested that the state had rented me the car to see Cuba and had sold me an expensive map book that labeled that road as a "scenic route" with the words inside a bright yellow comic book bang symbol, and, much to the delight of my passengers and several bystanders, I argued him into letting us through.
    On the beach at the bottom of the grade, we'd already passed a soldier in a gun tower facing the sea which had almost made me cry, because if the barbarians in Washington decide to "shock and awe" Cuba, with planes so high up they can't be seen, though everyone in the world besides the disgracefully stupid U.S. Republicans will be on Cuba's side, even a brave and never ending resistance will not save the island's beautiful system. So if I unknowingly saw anything strategic beyond the boom, I hope I'll never admit it to any U.S. spook, even under torture.
    Actually, we saw a lot of potholes and some beautiful forest. We visited some of my friends' relatives, who had a little girl with startling eyes. In La Maquina, which, as a town, was not to me apparently interesting, we accidentally encountered a childhood friend of the artist, who invited us into his house for coffee. The coffee grown near La Maquina, he told us, is widely considered to be the best in the world. I'd never heard of it, but it was very good. His solid concrete house had big rooms, big windows, a big kitchen, high open ceilings, and homemade furniture. and there were so many baby chicks running all over the floor, we dubbed it la casa de pollitos. A very tiny old woman in a wheel chair was also visiting, who had been disabled all her life, but even in that remote village, she had always been well cared for. Talking to her, I thought of the handicapped people I've seen, dirty and hopelessly begging on their own everywhere else in Latin America. But she was there that day talking to her neighbors and friends, because she was trading houses with someone in the city, and all the citizen lawyers were contributing their advice about papers and procedures to make sure neither party lost any credit already accumulated toward ownership of their homes. There was a coconut palm leaning against the house, which a young man climbed for us, and we took away a trunkload of coconuts and a small sack of coffee for my remaining breakfasts in Baracoa.
    On the way home, after we'd gone back down the grade below the road block, we saw teenagers walking in a column through the woods, and my friends, who knew from their own childhood memories, explained that the teens were attending la escuela de los campos. Vaguely like science camp in America, and also a bit like an ongoing peacefully preventive version of Mao's cultural revolution in China, the school of the countryside is home for 45 days a year to 14, 15, and 16-year-old Cuban kids, who live in vigilantly separated boys' and girl's dorms, eat in cafeterias, and spend their days helping country families with their chores, crops, and livestock.
    We also stopped for a soda in a roadside community store at the famous beach and river canyon village of Yumuri. The Lonely Planet Cuba guide (a book that Congress, the State Department, the CIA, all U.S. media chiefs and talking heads, and the Florida "exile" community should read, because it contains about 100 times more objective information about the real Cuba than all of them together know, can figure out how to dig up, or imagine exists) implies that Yumuri families are unique in their eagerness to provide paladar and beach blanket catering service to visiting tourists. My own experience suggests that there are really almost as many ready and willingly spontaneous paladar/delis in Cuba as there are homes. But Yumuri is certainly a picturesque place to encounter that aspect of the island culture, and I decided I'd come back again with some chicas I'd met.
    At the Casa de la Trova one night, I found the only pesos I had were some 10-peso paper notes, so I gave one to the doorman, who remembered me from two previous years, and told him that would cover me and several Cubans. A little later, he ushered three girls to some empty seats on my left and gave me a high sign. They weren't beauties, though the big one had the verve that does just as well, and they'd come from Moa that day in a camion. They'd pooled a little money and had a small room together in a house they knew how to get back to, though they couldn't explain it.
    The waiter got there almost as soon as the girls, raising his eyebrows at me and, when I nodded, placed a small drinks table in front of their knees. I told them they were my guests and to tell him what they wanted (Cuban girls almost always order tuKola, Tropicola, Cachito which is like Sprite, or a carbonated fruit juice logo'd Ciego Montero). I got another Mayabe and told them I didn't dance myself but there were lots of guys there who did. As out-of-towners and obviously not jineteras, they were as exotic as foreigners to the locals, who were mystified by me, though, and were asking my permission to ask the girls to dance. The two shy girls took advantage of that and, if they weren't sure of a guy, which at first meant every guy, they said they were just with me. But the big girl danced with everybody - fat guys, ugly guys, short guys, old guys, everybody. She was a flamboyant dancer, and her popularity zoomed.
    Taking a break at the terrace café across the park, I learned that two of them were sisters, a lean, buck-toothed and always smiling, somewhat shy little sister, and a curvaceous, dynamic big sister. The third was a militant pharmacist, unpretentious but president of the women's group in her neighborhood and of her CDR. She had done the least dancing and I think the locals had decided she was the one really with me and had stopped asking her so much.
    But back in the trova, when the comic mc who always theatrically introduces all visitors, elbowed me, winked, and asked who they were, I told him they were the three chicas from Moa. Chica means anything from just-a-girl to chick to hot tomato to hussy to hustler, but there's no confusion about it, and when the music resumed and he introduced them, as he would every night after that, as if they were a famous group called the three chicas from Moa, the word clearly meant chicks.
    Eventually, they seemed fairly well attended, if not captured, by suitors and, being tired, I bailed out and went home. The doorman told me I had 6 pesos credit left, and I told him my three girlfriends were paid for for at least two more nights then. But I didn't know that they made a mystery out of our connection and used it as an excuse to escape unscathed together right after I left. And when I arrived in the park the next night, looking for a peanut vendor, I found them on a bench, all decked out in different outfits from the night before, tapping their crossed arms at me and wanting to know where I'd gone.
    "Me parecio que estuvieron bien ocupadas," I said, wondering if "ocupadas" was right and if I should have put it with estar or ser.
    "But you're our jefe," the big sister said, "and you have to take care of us."
    I told them I wasn't anybody's jefe, and they looked like they'd found their way back to their wardrobes. "It's not dangerous here, is it?"
    "Esta bien, but some of these boys, uh..."
    "Un poco necio?" That got a laugh from the sisters and a serious amen from the pharmacist.
    "Un poco," she said.
    "Si, un poco, o..." said the big sister, in a different tone, which made me laugh for a different reason.
    The boys were waiting in the Trova, and the big sister was again the belle of the ball, though there was a German girl there who could dance but was willing to leave her German boyfriend's side only a few times, and there was a gorgeous mulata with exquisite poise on the floor, about the same size as my big girl, apparently with a European man as old as me who also only watched. My girls expeditiously learned and told me she was traveling around Cuba with him and was going to marry him and go away with him. Great for him for awhile, I thought, but maybe not for her. She looked like Cuba had been good to her.
    I talked her and my big girl into dancing together, which they both considered perverse, but it was a spectacle everyone else cheered, and I wished I had a camera with a flash. Anyway, I'll always have the image in my head. Readers may wonder why my girls weren't being hit on by Europeans, but, in fact, there isn't a big percentage of single male tourists in Cuba. I think there are more single female tourists. Except for me, every male foreigner I noticed in Baracoa that week was with his wife or girlfriend.
    When they'd danced enough that night, much to the chagrin of their admirers, I walked my chicas together to their house, which was on the street that passes the library, only a few blocks north of El Colonial, and invited them to go with me to Yumuri next day. That was so exactly the right idea, it was as if they had written my script. The sisters had a friend who had gotten away from Moa by marrying a Yumuri man and we could visit her, they told me, and have lunch at her house. It occurred to me almost instantly that this friend had probably come from Moa to Baracoa on a fling and met her husband at the Trova.
    When I drove up to their house next morning, they were waiting on the porch in smart looking daytime outing togs with their bathing suits and beach towels stuffed into beach bags. They had come to Baracoa well prepared.
    When the pharmacist got into the front seat with me, the big sister made a show of putting her hands on her hips and climbed into the back with her sister and whispered. The sister laughed but she always had the air of an amused observer, and her few comments and chuckles looked and sounded private. The big sister, her chin on her crossed arms braced between the two front headrests, asked why I didn't know how to dance. Anybody can dance, I said, turning right down the malecon because it's easier to follow the western hemisphere's first malecon south than to trace the oddly switching main street route through town.
    I almost missed it that I had to turn the wrong way to go around the old south fort before leaving town. I told her dancing is a feminine show. Some men are talented, but who wants to watch them? I'd rather watch her dance than look foolish. Also, I'm old and my back could go out.
    "You're not old," she said. "You're just timid."
    "He's not timid," the pharmacist said, and I saw the big sister in my mirror give her a look, and when the little sister echoed, "No es," the look was tossed back to her.
    "Neither brave nor timid" (No tiene corage?"). "I'm not Fidel, but..." ("Nobody's Fidel," said the militant) "...but Fidel's not me, either..." ("La verdad," said the little sister to herself).
    "Que pasa? I thought you were going to be my boyfriend. What's been going on while I was dancing?" ("Callete!" said her sister) ("He doesn't have to dance," said the pharmacist) "Pues, bueno, but, listen, you can, uh..." ("Callete!")
    "I'm going to stop and take a picture of the jungle," I said, because we were on the side road to Yumuri. A little later, we got to Yumuri and, right before the bridge over the river, I turned off the pavement and eased down a steep bank to a sandy street where they opened the windows and started asking everyone we passed where their friend lived as we rolled slowly between the edge of the river mouth and the village and then circled with the water's edge away from the river mouth along a protected coast with little waves, still close in front of the village and toward a beachy, palmy bay with a lot of small boats riding buoys. Since it was the last house, it was easy to find, and because some little boys had raced ahead of us, their friend and her little girls were waiting in the road to show us where to park in the shade under a palm cluster at the edge of the wider swimming beach that started right there.
    Too bad we didn't have a beach blanket. I might have bought one in town. They have beach towels. But I didn't think to ask or look. The store in Yumuri was too small. We had to make do with the three towels they'd brought and a carpet of grass and dry leaves leading up to a fallen palm trunk which I used as a couch back while they swam. Their friend took time away from the stove to bring cups and a cafetero full of coffee to us on the beach. Her girls and other children kept us company and ran messages back and forth, such as, eventually, that our lunch was going to be ready soon, to give my girls time to shower and re-dress for the table.
    Don't imagine I'm describing anything primitive. The house, the table, the furniture were rustic but not primitive. The service ware was as good as anything I have. And one advantage of total education in Cuba is that everyone understands sanitation. I've been sick in Cuba, but it's not likely. They even brag about the water around Baracoa. We had big fish surrounded by small fish in a thick bed of bright yellow rice laced with fruits and vegetables. The girls were a little dismayed that I paid for it, since they were friends, but it was cheap because there was no overhead except the gas the woman cooked on. Everything was caught, gathered, or grown in Yumuri by the family or their relatives, except beer and sodas I paid the store price for. We ate and talked and spent the day very slowly.
    That night, their last night on the town, the trio started to break up. When I got to the Trova, the big sister wasn't there. The others told me they'd all three been taken by the locals to another new dancing place I didn't know about, and they had come to the Trova to fetch me. The new place was at the top of a staircase, they said. I knew where the stairs were. I'd climbed the hill to see the homes up there in '02. There'd been a small cafe there, then.
    So we drove up, but the music was just thumping white noise, the robotic stuff produced by technology out of control instead of rhythmic melodies adorned by artists with coordinated ears, fingers and sensitivity. So I told the sisters if they were going back to Moa next day, since I wanted to backtrack and see that coast again, I'd give them a ride, and the pharmacist went back to the Trova with me.
    Next morning, the little sister and the pharmacist were eager to return to their beloved Moa, but the big sister wasn't in sight and had allegedly found a cheaper room for one and extended her stay. I wondered if one of the locals who had finally figured out how to capture her had a beach house and seriously needed a wife. Ah well, I thought, she's a big girl, and there's nothing to do but leave her to Baracoa. She'd picked a great place to be captured.
    I like to just let my car roll slowly and fatefully through a place like Baracoa. So, leaving the little house they'd picked on Calle Marti behind, I let it roll slowly up to the street's end, made a long U-turn to give my remaining chicks a last view of the harbor mouth past the north fort, and came back back south on Maceo. Where Maceo becomes the main street, we turned west down the short steep block the bicitaxistas have to walk their taxis up with their passengers' help, immediately north past the "Bienvenidos a Baracoa" mural painted by my artist friend, then west along a bayfront street where a few small trucks almost blocked our way past some port buildings and a small fabric factory where about a dozen women do more laughing and gossiping over their sewing machines than toiling. As the street, gradually curving northward around the bay, became more residential, we passed houses with vegetable gardens in old tires on their roofs, carefully dodged bicycles as we crossed two small bridges, dipped and bounced a few more very slow, puddly, and tenuous blocks where the street has a little trouble deciding where it's going, and finally picked up a bit of speed through shady suburbs as the street became the road north.
    Half an hour later, since nobody had eaten breakfast, I turned into Maguana again and found the gate really locked. When the guy who looked like a waiter responded to my horn, he told me the opposite of what the old man with the boom had said on the road to La Maquina. Here, tourists could pass but not Cubans, unless one of the girls had a certificate showing she was going to marry me.
    Civilization has to walk a very fine line between the concession of rights that need to be conceded so civilization will work and vigilant respect for all the existential freedoms that individuals have the self-bestowed right to retain. The trouble with states is that they become more bureaucratic government than state, and I doubt there is such a contraption in the world staffed by very many people who can even read the first sentence in this paragraph. Cuba may come closest, but a lot of its front people don't quite get it or make it.
    I realized later that the waiter looking guy thought we were there to rent a room, if that makes a difference. But thinking of the place as a restaurant with a weird moral view that treated Cuban women the way Guatemala treats its indians, I classified him as Thoreau did the tax collector, dismissed him, probably a bit rudely, put it in reverse, and started backing along the sandy road toward the decision I'd forgotten I'd made before. I suggest to Lonely Planet that they tell their readers there are friendly houses near all the pretty beaches on that coast, and that they erase the Maguana resort from the Baracoa chapter.
    The woman of the first porch wasn't home, so I took the sand sideroad the taxi driver had shown me in '02 until we found someone who was, with a wide porch under a sprawling flower vine, where we had coffee, toast, quiet words, and scrambled eggs with plantains in the presence of the proud, clucking hens whose eggs we were enjoying. Though maybe pleasantly tired, I think we all felt as content as the hens resting there in the fragrant shade, but, while we ate, the girls told me that in Moa everyone is like one family, all for each other, and nobody puts on airs, and they considered it a much nicer town than Baracoa.