Dayaniguas, a Paradise in Los Palacios, Pinar del Rio

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – The Ensenada de Dayaniguas is a low and marshy area almost open to the sea, located to the south of the current municipality of Los Palacios, between the mouth of the Bacunagua or Santo Domingo River and the San Diego or Caiguanabo River, facing the Gulf of Batabanó .

It is said that when Hernan Cortes sailed from the port of Jagua towards the west, challenging Governor Diego Velázquez, he penetrated up the Caiguanabo River where he hid his caravels. In memory of that fact, the place was named Hernan Cortes.

Maritime communications to the mainland outlined multiple paths, the most important in the area was from Dayaniguas to San Pedro de las Galeras, today San Diego de los Baños. But they were all leading to the cove or wharf of Cortes.

The possibility of having an exit to the sea in the territory allowed the interrelation with all the neighboring areas. The increase in the tobacco fields, the gradual cultivation of coffee, the sugarcane plantations and the fame of the San Diego baths made the Dayaniguas wharf an important export and import center.

Around 1841, the southern Bustamante and Cagigal shipping company began to make frequent trips from Batabano to Dayaniguas, facilitating merchandise exchanges between the zones.

A three-hundred-meter dock was built in the cove itself, as well as large warehouses and others on the Cortés wharf right on the banks of the Caiguanabo River to facilitate the handling of merchandise.

The famous baths of San Diego were visited by illustrious Havana families, foreigners,  and travelers of all kinds. Everything that moved in the area from anywhere on the island or abroad was transported by Dayaniguas.

At the beginning of 1920 it was transformed into a summer place frequented by Los Palacios residents. The wealthy families little by little built their residences there, the poor, humble houses of wood and palm fronds. The influx was such that in 1957 and 1958 there was a bus from Paso Real de San Diego to the place.

Starting 1959 the attendance of people was increasing. Over the years, several government projects arose to improve the site as a vacation space, but in the end very few were completed.

Almost a year after hurricane Ian destroyed most of the buildings, the cafeteria, the medical post and the wooden piers are still rubble, while private residences come to life. This demonstrates the scant interest of the relevant authorities.

Although the road to the beach is increasingly difficult and transportation is scarce, people continue to visit it every summer. The love of the people of Los Palacios for this place is what keeps it active and makes it reborn every time the fury of nature claims its space.

Read more from the diary of Fabiana del Valle here.