This remote location, however, was a major reason why the Spanish Conquistadores soon decided that other areas of the island were more conducive to their mission of conquering the native Amerindians, establishing Spanish settlements, and ensuring control of the Caribbean. Until the opening of the La Farola road in 1965, the city was only accessible by sea or air.
The winding road work was begun by Batista in the 1950s as a way of connecting Baracoa with the eastern tip of the country, but shortly after work had begun,
it was abandoned. Today, La Farola (the lantern/beacon) is considered one of the triumphs of the Revolution and the only direct access to Santiago and Guantánamo.
My introduction to Baracoa was in the middle of the night, as our bus wound its way from Guantánamo for 94 miles on the La Farola road after having been on the road since
our 6:00 a.m. departure from Havana. Our amazing bus driver smoothly navigated La Farola through the knife-sharp peaks of the Cuchillas de Baracoa mountains, and I felt relaxed and fascinated watching the twists and turns under a clear, moonlit sky. We arrived at our hotel past midnight, where they welcomed us with snacks and drinks. It wasn't until the next day, however, that I heard it is recommended to make the trip on La Farola in daylight, since the steep banks bordering the road often in places have fallen mountain rocks or occasional broken road surfaces, making the trip extremely dangerous in the dark.
No wonder we saw no other vehicles on the road on our two hour ride from Guantánamo.
Oh, well. Ignorance sometimes is indeed bliss.