My grandmother used to have a saying in German that went something like this – when somebody goes travelling they’ll have lots to talk about. Different places are generally, well, different. But have you ever thought about how similar they are? Let’s explore the similarities between my hometown Strathroy, Ontario, Canada and my latest vacation location, Jibacoa, which is about 1 hour from Havana.
By my calculations using Google Maps, they are about 2,203.83 kms, or 1,369.40 miles apart. That’s as the crow flies. Actually the crow might not fly there but a backyard bird friend of mine the Northern Flicker does. Canadians, like the Flickers, also flock to Cuba. But enough of this flying back and forth, here’s how I think Cuba and Strathroy are alike.
It’s enough to confuse a body. Are you in the islands, or at Cruise Night in Strathroy? Shiny old cars are all the rage in both places. See how besotted we are in Strathroy with our old wheels. My brother Conrad, above, is pretty keen on this beauty found just outside our hotel, Memories Jibacoa.
Havana has its fountains but so do we! In fact Strathroy now has two. There’s the McKinlay Paul Park Fountain, restored by the local chapter of the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE). I’ve used the McKinlay Paul Fountain as a backdrop for a picture of my Bikini Island Bag. Another Strathroy fountain, which is brand new, is the Strathroy Cenotaph Memorial Fountain. It’s so new it’s not been running yet except for a test at Remembrance Day.
Okay, I may be comparing apples to oranges, or should I say carp to red snapper, but Strathroy’s own Sydenham River boasts 80 fish species. That’s quite a lot of types of fish for a river in Canada. Of course we never see them through the muddy water, a product of the runoff from the fields the river runs past. Then there’s water sport. Don’t make the mistake of thinking exploring a waterway in the Strathroy area is for suckers (that’s a pun for fishermen). A couple of years ago I had to call on the Ontario Provincial Police to find hubby after he had ventured into the wilds of the river system just outside of town. He was located a few hours later but without his kayak and much the worse for wear. Here’s a picture of the fish we saw while snorkelling just off the beach and the Hobie Cat we took out. I think I’m only seeing a few species in this tropical shot – if only I could see to snorkel in the Sydenham I might see more!
The province of Mantanzas, where our resort was located, has pretty rough terrain. It would be hard to plant much of anything in the gravel-strewn ground, although we did see stands of bananas and sugar cane. This leaves lots of land for grazing and small farming. These farms have a few chickens and goats, a communal ox and perhaps you’ll see a cow or two grazing alongside the road. There are lots of horses and they are still used for transportation. Back in Strathroy we’ve lost our working horses but we still have lots of riding clubs. Just outside of Strathroy you’ll find the local dude ranch – the Texas Longhorn Ranch. They’ve been promoting horseback riding for years. One of the quilters I know, Beth Lucan (above right), is a member of the Canadian Cowgirls, a famous precision rodeo team. A love of horses and a dependence on agriculture are a common thread between us.
Yes, you read that right, Turkey. Strathroy is the home of Cuddy Farms, a producer of turkey eggs and poults and they are known around the world. Here in Strathroy we have an annual celebration called Turkey Festival. In years gone by there were turkey races but not surprisingly this proved to be a little hard on the birds. These days there are turkey poults on display for the kids to see, turkey burger barbecues, a dance, the midway, bands and baseball. Everything needed for a big party-like weekend. Cuba may not celebrate the humble turkey to such a degree but imagine my surprise to find this cute couple and their offspring at a local farm. Oh to be a turkey in sunny Cuba!