Playa y Porte
We have left the mountain valleys and are now on the alluvial plains. Agriculture has changed to reflected a lot more cattle and sugar cane. The are the spitting image Hollywoods cowboys, driving cattle and swing their lassos. The coastal towns did some fishing. Agricultural diversity was in the form of one new very young papaya farm.
The afternoon was powered by guarapo, a favorable juice made from sugar cane and a touch of citrus. Late in the afternoon we passed a copper mine, flying a Canadian flag.
Buying a box of cookies tells another part of the story of Cubas economy the biscuits are from Argentina. Cuba used to export sugar to the Soviet Union and buy back finished products. I guess they now sell sugar to Argentina. It is startling how little vertical integration there is in the Cuba economy. Like so many former colonies they produce primary goods, but do very little subsequent processing of their production.
|Historical note: Posters of the Pope are appearing on more doors. For many people, last months (1998) papal visit must still live on. It is also a reflection that forty years into the Revolution, Catholicism has not been forgotten.|
|At the coast, there is another opportunity to see the interface between human economic development and infrastructure, and the coastal ecology and mangrove ecology. Mangrove are salt tolerant trees, adapted to life in harsh coastal conditions, contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action, and are adapted to the low oxygen (anoxic) conditions of waterlogged mud. They also have huge role in the ecology by providing a habitat for small animals and holding the coastline. Cuban mangrove varieties are: red (Rhizophora mangle), black (Avicennia germinans), white (Laguncularia racemosa) and button (Conocarpus erectus).|
|The beach of Cayo Jutias is white fine sand and narrow, and the water is warm, clear and a beautiful aqua-marine. But even all together, it is a bit underwhelming. Granted Cubas reputation for beaches was not made in Pinar del Rio, but everyplace wants a bit of the action. One of the state tourist corporations thinks it is good enough for some investment.|
|Developers have built new beachfront destination with cabanas and a large covered bar/dining area. Though a heavy weekend of traffic, on the off season, now generates about ten tourist vehicles a day out to the island, the causeway suggests that somebody wants - hopes for - higher status in the futures.|
On one program that stayed at a Campismo Popular, we had an hour-long talk with a journalist for the government newspaper from the region. The tables were turned a bit as she answered questions about the economy, society, the Pope's visit, government and a range of other topics we raised. There was nothing that wasnt frank about the conversation. A most pleasurable education.
This Campismo also seems to be the site for the local Saturday night youth dance. With the volume at its usually throbbing loudest, the kids gyrated, danced and laughed until well past my bedtime. Has it every been said that Cubans love their music and dance.
|St Lucia, a port town, is surrounded by what looks to be under-performing or non-performing economic activity: gold mine, sugar factory, battery acid factory, dry docks and other industrial buildings. The only one that seemed to be active is an open pit gold mine. The town itself was more like a village. It had the requisite guarapo (sugar cane juice with lemon) vendor.|
kilometers of the "paved" road between St Lucia and Porte Experanza is worse
that a dirt road would likely be, except in the rainy season.
As the name of the province suggest, a good part of the countryside is devoted to pine production.
|Approach Porte Esperanza is Organoponico Despalillo Zabaco Vinales. They were irrigating the vegetables in the raised beds, and the produced looked very healthy.|
|The residential streets, air, water, people of Porte Esperanza are all very calm. It would be easy to believe that you had arrived in paradise.|
|The likeability of Porte Esperanza was greatly enhanced by the lack of motor vehicle traffic. Is this just the values of an outsider?|
program included an hour-plus long visit to a family medical clinic and a meeting with
part of the medical staff. The discussion covered many aspects of their
program; clinics involvement community health care and prevention, prenatal
care, infant care, students’ health, adolescent health issues, women health
(breast exams, cytological tests, HPV), pregnancy management, general adult
health issues, lifestyle issues (hypertension and diabetes), communicable
diseases (TB, AIDS, STD), family planning, mosquito borne disease (dengue,
Zika), medical record keeping, consultation and examination rooms.
Immunization program: polio, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis,
rubella, measles, mumps, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza B,
meningitis B, and meningitis C. Common themes throughout the discussion
were prevention and early intervention.
Public education and prevention are strategic priorities. In line with this, all the family doctor clinics have a variety of health education posters. It is interesting that the selection of posters differs from clinic to clinic. The Ministry of Health must have produced dozens and dozens of posters. There is no discernable pattern on why a clinic has its particular collection of broad signs.
We had another roundtable with Cuban specialist doctor on health care in Cuba, covering development of health care since the revolution, primary health care, pre-natal care, health care for students, oral health care, ophthalmology, health care technology, team health care, specialty health care, prescription drugs, and the Cuban pharmaceutical industry.
The town's pharmacy is near by.
Another program in town is a school for children with special needs. This is a regional school for children with Downs Syndrome, Autism Spectrum disorders and other learning challenges. It provides room and board for children from distant locations.
|The Sierra de los Órganos and Sierra del Rosario hill parallel the coastline. These “mountains” are part of the fold and thrust of the Guaniguanico Terrace. The Sierra de los Órganos displays a sequence of exposed Mesozoic marine limestone and Paleogene marine to continental sedimentary rock. In the 1800, Manual Fernandez de Castro first found Jurassic marine invertebrate fossils on a mogote 10km north of the town of Pinar del Rio (Abra de Ancón).|
|Along the base of the mountains is a string of homesteads. Most are connected to agriculture and livestock, but there were also a couple plots being used to produce charcoal.|
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