Arriving in Placetas where my family lives brought back many fond memories from my last visit two years ago. It was as if we were stepping back in time as we went over the bridge entering Placetas.
The streets filled with people on their bikes, horse drawn carriages, tractors pulling carts filled with people in the back, and cars from the early fifties.
We pulled into my cousin’s house and were greeted by his wife and daughter. They were surprised when they saw the amounts of bags and luggage we had in the back of the car staked up in the back sit.
We brought all the luggage into the room where I was staying and started sorting everything into five of the vacuum seal storage bags that I had filled with clothes, blankets, and pillows. I had used my vacuum cleaner back home to remove all the air from the bags and flattened them so they wouldn’t take up so much room. One bag for each family filled with (clothes, toiletries, toilet paper, medications, and spices). The room had nothing on the walls hanging. The bed was covered with a simple bedspread, flat like an iron with no pillows in sight. I remembered from my last trip that the pillows we used were as hard as a rock, so I made sure to bring two pillows with me. It did however have a small a/c unit in the window. The room had two doors on opposite sides of each other to allow you to walk thru the rooms of the house.
It was one of my cousin’s nieces birthday that night. She was turning 18 years old. They had a Cuban Cappuccino Dessert Cake and Ham Croquettes for her birthday celebration. It was a good thing that I brought paper plates, paper towels and napkins with me. I knew how hard it was for them to find sometimes everyday items that we take for granted like napkins at the stores in Cuba. My cousins wanted to wash the paper plates and reuse them. I was pleased to see that they were all put to good use immediately.
After munching on cake, pastries and salad we went over to my cousin’s Mercedes house to say hello and deliver her bag of goodies. Instead of getting back in the car we decided to flag down a Coachman or Cochero (as they call them in Cuba) and go on a horse drawn carriage to my cousin’s house. The Cochero’s take you around town for only $.25 cents.
After a five minute ride on the horse carriage we arrived at my cousin’s Mercedes house where we were greeted by most of my cousins.
We sat around on rocking chairs telling stories for a few hours. During that hour, cousins came and went on their bicycles. I never realized how many relatives we still had in Cuba until I met them all two years ago. Who knew that we have more than 15+ cousin’s?
Our first night back in Cuba and we were greeted with open arms by everyone. As nightfall came the darkness of the streets became apparent with little or no lights around. Mostly the headlights of cars and a few lights hanging for passing horse drawn carriages. We went back to my cousin’s Jose house to turn in for the night.