Susan and Norman's Cuban Odyssey
page 3

The Valley of the Dinosaurs

Sunday, Jan 18

Norman and I decide to bicycle to Juragua Beach in the morning, but the bikes are in even worse shape than reported. I expected them to be bad, but not this bad, and after a few tries with a shifty seat and even shiftier brakes, I go on strike and we return them.

We walk to the beach, where we meet JosÚ, who says come to the place he knows of where there are artisans more plentiful than in the galleries of the town of Oasis, and cheaper, too (this eventually turns out to be fairly true). Only 1 Km-- 10 minutes-- farther down the road. This turns out to be not so true.

We eventually come nearish to the place of the Artisans; it is the Valley of Pre-History. (Alex, our mountain guide, said something about dinosaurs and Jurassic Park yesterday. Now it makes sense.) We are in a park of Dinosaurs, near Juragua. For one US dollar (the legal tourist currency of Cuba) we can walk through the park filled with life-size (I guess) dinosaurs placed realistically (maybe, who knows?) among the trees.

The artisans are few but have a nice array of stuff. I buy a painting of Santiago from a woman named Piki, and Norman buys a very nice carved mask and some small carved pendants. At JosÚ's request, I take his picture, and promise to send him a copy.
Norman has some gifts for JosÚ. Clothes, calculator. Then we head wearily home, through the village of Juragua, which in form reminds me of walking through a village in Germany with my sister-in-law Sigrid about a year ago, but in content and style, it could hardly be more different.

We get back to the hotel hot and sticky and tired and I roll into the pool before settling down to a 2-beer lunch and an afternoon at the beach, dozing and reading up on the history of Cuba.

At 5:00, we convene at the beach bar for another sunset watch. Less impressive this time, with the clouds on the horizon. At supper, I decide on a glass of wine. Then another. Thus, when the evening show occurs, synchronized swimming by (I think) the Santiago Aquatic Club, I fall asleep partway through.

A Walk to Oasis

I make another trip out of the enclave. A group of us (Donna, Darrell, Lynn, Janet and Emily) set out for Oasis, where there are art galleries, that is, where some local artisans have stuff for sale. The walk is, not surprisingly, longer than I expected, and we are observed by cows, goats and small dogs.

The village is small but bustling. As we walk through the main street, I feel like we're on parade, with the villagers at the doors saying HolÓ. We find the Art Galleries, the carvings and painting, and buy a few items. I get a tiny mask for 1 USD (it was 2/$1, but I only want one.

And then the long trek home....

On the road to Oasis

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