Putting the “you” in Yumuri

Putting the "you" in Yumuri
Baracoa, Caribbean

Baracoa, Caribbean

Dani is our guide for the day excursion to the Yumuri River. Our transport is an open aired style troop carrier with all the bells and whistles – al la natural air conditioning (breeze) and a speedometer that doesn’t exceed 0km’s per hour (yes, it’s broken). It’s approximately 200% humidity. First, we stop at a lookout where the famous El Yunque mountain can be seen in the distance beyond the coconut forests. Sleeping beauty sits behind El Yunque and is barely visible with the cloud. It’s named so, as it resembles a woman’s figure – a head, two breasts (the important parts) and body. Next, we visit a Cacoa plantation/ farm and play part in a demonstration of how the chocolate is processed from tree to table. I begin to wander off and Dani says, “Cheloena! Come – everyone closer to hear what I’m saying”. I’m just not interested, I want to get physical. Neil says to Dani, “she doesn’t listen anyway”. I laugh and respond, “It’s funny, because it’s true”. Onto the Yumuri river. The Yumuri runs through a great 200 meter high canyon before flowing out and kissing the sea. According to Dani and Google, the name “Yumuri”comes from the cry made by the indigenous as they threw themselves off canyon, preferring to commit suicide rather than endure mistreatment at the hands of the Spanish colonisers. Standing at the top of the ledge they shouted “Yumurí” or “Yo muero”, repeating the word in Spanish so that their enemies would hear… Ten bodies pile into a small wooden boat 8 and Dani begins rowing us up the Yumuri. This is how the row boat conversation plays out: Me: “Dani, pick up the pace” Dani: “I need motivation” Me: “You want me to take my clothes off don’t you” Dani: “I didn’t say it” Me: “But you were thinking it!” Cubans are cheeky. About 10 minutes up the Yumuri river, we beach the boat and take a dip. There’s a small rock face I’m encouraged to climb up, to get to a point for jumping. Dani leads the way. I climb twice, each time, a different line. On the way home, a beach visit, mojito and walk. A local Cuban girl, Melissa joins me. Our conversation is basic to silent, due to language barriers on both sides. Sara, Fionnuala and I take a salsa lesson at 6pm with a couple of feminine, sassy, gay men. They comment/ compliment me on my lower body movement and scorn me for my upper body movement… And general lack of salsa experience. Sara runs into a guy, Johnny, that she met on the beach today. Johnny is a Jamaican born Cuban professional dancer, living in Bristol but visiting family in Baracoa. Turns out the girl who joined me for the beach walk is one of his sisters. Johnny takes us to a paladar for dinner. Victor, his brother, with an amazing fro, joins us too. Johnny takes me for a quick spin of salsa between dinner. He’s exceptionally good (I’d expect that being a professional and all) and I learn one of the sassy gay men who took our salsa lesson is indeed Johnny’s dance teacher. Small, Cuban, world. The evening was filled with mojitos, salsa and for Sara, spewing. It could’ve been something she ate but we’re just not sure. We left Johnny and Victor, took Sara home and headed back to the main square where we ran into tour guide Dani. He leads Fi & I up a steep path, laden with stone stairs, to a night club, up on the top of a hillside. It’s an open air establishment (roof only), dim, with disco lights, loud reggaeton music and many people dancing. Perfecto. The bar only serves mojitos, beer and rum – no water. It’s a sweaty, sexy affair. Fionnuala and I don’t get home til 3am.

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