Famed musician Benny Moré (1919–1963) was born in the village of Santa Isabel de las Lasas, eight kilometers north of the town of Cruces (30 kilometers northeast of Cienfuegos ).
The Museo Municipal (Calle Dr. Machín 99 e/ Martí y Calixto García, lajaz [at] azurina [dot] cult [dot] cu, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.) pays homage to the crooner considered Cuba’s most influential musician of his era, who is buried in the town cemetery.
The Festival Internacional de Música Benny Moré is held here every other December.
The Café Cuba (Paseo Dr. Machín 69 esq. Goitizolo), where he first performed, was being restored to its 1950s ambience at last visit.
Serious railroad buffs might call in at Central Maltiempo, five kilometers southeast of Cruces. The central (sugar mill) is now derelict, but an antique Baldwin steam locomotive is preserved (barely). An obelisk in Cruce’s plaza commemorates the Battle of Mal Tiempo, in 1895, when Mambí generals Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez defeated Spanish forces.
Palmira, midway between Cienfuegos and Cruce, has deep Afro-Cuban roots and is a center for santería, as told in its Museo Municipal (Villuendas 41 e/ Cisneros y Agramontetel, tel. 043/54-4533, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.,CUC1).