First Nations Vacations
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BARACOA - THE FIRST COLONIAL CITY IN CUBA

Located in Guantanamo Province, Baracoa is one of the youngest and most unspoilt tourist destinations in Cuba; It's untouched nature gave birth to the Cuban identity with a Caribbean flavor - truly a hidden gem well worth the time and effort to discover!

The name 'Baracoa' means 'Sea nearby' in the indigenous Arawakan language of the pre-contact era, and stems from the intricately close relationship geographically speaking - with the watershed and the sea in this unique part of Cuba. From crystal clear rivers portrayed in legends like Miel, Yumuri and mighty Toa, the place for the sailing of riverain dug-out canoes. This is also the rainiest area in the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve - with it's lush forests, a place where the famous Alejandro de Humbolt National Park and World Heritage site also can be found.

Baracoa has been considered the Taino Indian capital of Cuba ever since Columbus landed here in 1492, as he recorded the presence of huge Taino communities in the area; and it is the place in Cuba with the most remaining families of Taino descent - such as your host family of Robertico and Magalys Fernandez (see photo on this page).

Of the 29 wooden crosses Columbus planted himself in the New World - only the one he planted on the beach in Baracoa still remains in perfect condition, being preserved in the Catholic Church (see photo on this page). What adds to the mystery of this place is the fact that Columbus placed that cross in 1492...yet when the Spaniards decided to return to settle Cuba in 1511 - 19 years later - they found the cross still intact and in place on the beach where Columbus placed it (this says a lot about the respectful nature and lack of vandalism in the Taino culture).

Baracoa was the first capital city of Cuba, but was nearly destroyed several times by great Taino Chiefs Hatuey and Guama - who were the first Cuban Independence patriots; until the capital was transferred to Santiago de Cuba....then much later to La Habana (Havana).

Baracoa has evolved over the last five centuries with European style development that increased as the great indigenous Taino People and Culture were almost annihilated, it was transformed into a colonial agricultural district and port as the first bay of Colonial trade in Cuba. In addition to the privilege of it's geographic location in the heart of the Americas with supplies and wealth, it played an important role in the intensive maritime commercial activity for centuries. This led it to become the target for violent attacks by Corsairs and Pirates, and this led to the construction of a defensive system and the Colonial Fortress of Matachin, La Castillo de la villa fortress.

Due to it's agricultural boom, Baracoa was also considered the capital of Cocoa and Coconut - for having the most extensive plantings of these crops in the whole country of Cuba, since the days of the French immigrants in the 1800's. Baracoa's large exports of bananas and its typical products of renowned brands of cocoa balls, chocolate, coconut sweet cone and the Bacan - all contributed to it's prestige.

Regarding it's cultural diversity, Baracoa stands out for it's uniqueness resulting from the merging of Taino, Spanish, French, and African immigrants. This mix brought about customs and traditions evidenced by dances with 8 song variations, visual arts & artists, a language that incorporates Arawakan and Spanish, remarkable craftsmanship in precious woods, a unique local cuisine, carnivals and other festivities such as on 1st of April - celebrations and pilgrimages, accompanied by the Nengon and Kiriba...all in one of the most beautiful places on Earth your eyes will ever see!

A room at Casa Robertico will only cost you US$100 per night all inclusive from your arrival at Bartacoa airport on day 1 till your departure from same on day 7, with 3 meals daily (which are healthy all natural and tasty) and for most people - it will be a bit more than you can eat! A private room with modern furnishings and amenities (as pictured below). Clothing machine washed for you, clothes ironed for you, someone to guide you everywhere you want to go in the city (you can literaly see EVERY tourist attraction in Baracoa & environs over a 1 week stay - and will if you visit with us, a reliable and trustworthy Taxi Driver (Claudio) lives next door to your Casa - and a day hire of him and his vehicle everyday, there is also a sister Casa up the street (if your group needs more room). ALL your Baracoa sightseeing and real-world local interactions and experiences can be had at our honest, reliable and VERY friendly hosts! You will even get to meet a veteran on the Cuban Revolution and ask him any questions you may have about those early days of Fidel and Che.

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Baracoa
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Baracoa
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Baracoa
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Baracoa
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Baracoa
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Baracoa
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Polymitas
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Baracoa
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Baracoa by night
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Baracoa
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Senor Alejandro Hartman - Head Historian in Baracoa and Director of the matachin Museum
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Casa Robertico
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Casa Robertico
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Casa Robertico
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With beautiful Taino descendant Yenisel my private translator
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Family of Robertico and Magalys Fernandez
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Statue of Taino Chief Guama
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Uncle Aurelio the former Rebel soldier under Fidel and Che
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Medals uncle Aurelio (aka 'Yiyo') - won fighting in the Cuban Revolution as a guerrilla in the Rebel Army of Fidel Castro under Commandante Zapata
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When Fidel and Che visited Baracoa after the Revolution
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Copyright © 1999-2015 Damon G. Corrie