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Back in Holguin, I rented a small car for 10 days to drive a circle northeast to Guardalavaca and Banes, new scenes to me, around through Mayari and Moa to Baracoa, out to the eastern tip of the island if I could, then west again along the south coast to Santiago and back up to Holguin by way of Belem and Mirador de Mayabe, where Pancho the beer drinking burro lives.
That's less than a 3-day drive, but I wanted to have the car for a week in and around Baracoa, to see the beaches and the jungle. I made a quick tour of the extravagant hotels at Guardalavaca, which seemed extravagantly empty that day, considering Granma's claim that tourism was up.
There's a small cluster of money drops there, of the kind called "the village" in tourist spas everywhere, so I wined and dined. I had an exceptional pasta at Pizza Nova, one of the improved new state restaurants challenging the going wisdom that the places to eat well in Cuba are privately run paladars in people's homes.
The cook was a Canadian Italian. While I ate, I wrote in my notebook that, instead of letting outsiders build generic luxury spas, that tell the kind of tourists who like them nothing about socialism and give the foreign builders an apparently capitalist share of Cuba, they should have more slowly built real beach and fishing towns with a hotel room with private bath in every house.
Every tourist could then have stayed with a Cuban family. Walking around Cienfuegos being invited into houses along my way for coffee, lemonade, or conversation, it's often struck me that there are more houses there with space to accommodate tourists than there are rooms at the Hotel Jagua. They could have razed the historically and aesthetically offensive Bautista block house and replaced it with a bigger, more beautiful socialist hotel without having to build it. Rent-a-units installed or improved or built into new houses could be treated as a single state hotel, not turning Cuban families into businesses, but with the housekeeper in each family who cooks and cleans for the guests being a peso-paid state employee.