Cuba 13b: El Leon de Oro

The bakery, the “Golden Lion” bakery. Aurelio y Roberto. Aurelio saw me taking photos outside and asked if we’d like to take a look inside. I did, so I beckoned the young fella who was off climbing a pole, and we followed Aurelio in.
He brought us out the back, to where the ovens are, and introduced us to the other lads, busy kneading dough on a counter. Then to the cold room, which spewed a cloud of mist when he opened the door. The young fella went in with a huge smile, amazed. He poked at the dough till I told him not to touch it.
Aurelio showed him everything, the mixers, the ovens, the trays. He pulled trays out of the ovens, put others in, and gave us hot bread to taste. Roberto showed the young lad how to knead the dough, another showed him how to roll it. The rolled dough was to make crackers.
Aurelio said they were only allowed make three types of bread. The bakery is run by the government. He’s been working there since 1994. Eighteen hour shifts. One day on, the next day off. He said I look like the singer from Abba, dunno which one he meant...
The bakery opens at 7am, closes at 6am, and has been running since 1936. The owner used to live in an apartment upstairs, the only one in the street at the time. At least I think that’s what Aurelio said. It doesn’t make sense, could be translation issue. Unless he means it was the only bakery on the street at the time. Yes, that makes more sense…
The whole thing was amazing. I told Aurelio I loved Cuba, especially for the people, so warm and inviting. “You don’t feel like a tourist but a guest,” I told him. He said they like to make friends. Well, we were all amigos by the end. Handshakes and high-fives all round when we were leaving.
I bought a bag of bread out the front. Aurelio didn’t ask for any money but I gave him 3 cucs. He was grateful. The bread went mostly to kids – one on the street we met who kept looking at us and the rest to kids playing football, the next story


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