Friday, 8 May 2015
We slept well in the rustic cabin, although it got quite cool during the night and we ended up sharing one of the single beds. When the staff showed up, we had breakfast in the open-air restaurant on the deck above the river. This consisted of stale bread, omelette, coffee, butter, and mango juice.
Only one other couple was at the baths and the water remained cool as the day heated up. It was idyllic. In the shade of the trees surrounding the waterhole, we struck up a conversation with a member of the staff called Mario. Sometimes the Spanish got a bit difficult, but the conversation was interesting. He had been born in Baracoa and had migrated west. He was hoping to migrate to Scandinavia, and he was curious about the everyday economic realities in Australia. He asked us to pass on his greetings to his brother who worked in the boatshed in the town of Las Terrazas.
By 11 a.m. we were standing at the bar with our bags packed while the staff called for a taxi. It was a good time to leave, as the tourist buses were just beginning to arrive. We ended up with the same taxi driver who had taken us there, and he took us to the Hotel Moka a short distance away. We checked into a comfortable room with a leafy aspect, and then checked our email for messages from our daughter, Clare.
We spent the rest of the day walking around Las Terrazas. As its name suggests, the village is laid out along a series of terraces cut into steep hills that converge on a valley. The whole area had once been scrappy cattle country, but it has since been re-forested and terraced in order to make it suitable for growing crops. The village is promoted as an ‘eco-village’ and is designed and maintained on the principles of ecological sustainability.
In order to get a feel for the place, we zig-zagged our way to the main village square which was located high on a hill opposite the hotel. From this point we could see that the hotel had been cleverly surrounded by trees, so it did not dominate the village below. We wandered back to the hotel and had a leisurely swim in the pool which—unlike the shady baths at San Juan—had heated up in the blazing sun.
Like the village of Las Terrazas, Hotel Moka is promoted as a model of ecological sustainability. The lobby is dominated by a vast rainforest tree that sprouts through the roof of the upper storey, where several square openings have been placed so as to accommodate the major branches.
In the late afternoon we retired to our hotel room where I did some washing and worked on Johnny’s guitar which needed some adjustment to the truss rod and strings. Susie had a bath and gazed out into the forest that surrounded the hotel. In the evening we went to the hotel bar for a Margarita, a gin and tonic and a mojito to wash down a simple but filling spaghetti Bolognese dish. A Cuban band was playing traditional salsa music in the restaurant. They were excellent of course, and we purchased a CD.