Trinidad Cuba's beautifully restored historic UNESCO heritage listed town, was high on our list of Cuban destinations.
We arrived in Trinidad on a Viazul bus, having been evacuated from Vinales, which was preparing for the force of fast approaching Hurricane Wilma. This worked in our favour, as we were able to catch the connecting bus the same day, rather than overnight in Havana.
Casa Particulares in Trinidad
Lining the street outside the bus depot were at least fifty people holding up placards with coloured photos of their homes, and prices for accommodation .These were all owners of Casa Particulares, the Cuban equivalent of Bed and Breakfast accommodation. They are a thriving industry, well monitored by the government as they have to be registered.
Not only is it relatively inexpensive, it is a wonderful way to get to meet Cuban people, and see them in their homes in this fascinating travel destination.
Usually both husband and wife are involved in running the Casa, and you can have breakfast and dinner by arrangement.
Cuba has a dual currency. Being paid in convertible pesos, which tourists use and are around the equivalent of a Euro. These people make a good income compared to doctors, engineers and government paid professionals, who dip out badly by being paid in ordinary Cuban pesos, which are almost worthless.
We were delighted to see our names on a welcoming board being waved around by Pedro, our host, who was waiting with a porter. He had arranged for a neighbour to carry our suitcases on his specially designed side-less wheel barrow, padded with colourful cotton cloth.
Transport in Trinidad
Vehicles are not able to enter the narrow streets in the centre of Trinidad, so we stumbled along behind our elderly, but cheerful porter as he manoeuvred his wheelbarrow around potholes, curbs and over the bumpy cobbles, up the hill to Pedro and Carmen's house. I laugh even now thinking of the picture we made.
A typical scene in the narrow cobbled streets of central Trinidad would be an old bicycle, jostling for position with horse and carts, saddled horses, donkeys and motorbikes.
Outside the town centre the usual montage of old 1950’s cars, vans and coco taxis, filled the roads.
Out and About in Trinidad
Wandering the town, artists could be seen at work in their open fronted workshops. The open air market was a mix of tables crowded with wood ware, silver and mother of pearl jewellery, and toys cleverly made from used beer and coke cans.
We bought a fun camera made from a beer can, for a friend. His favourite brand when we had been with them the week earlier. Handmade embroidered and crocheted clothes, were sheltered by a colourful array of umbrellas.Table clothes fluttered from lines strung up to display their handwork.
As everywhere in Cuba, there were stands with books and T shirts featuring the many faces of Che Guevara and Castro.
Finding the Trinidad Music
Above the Plaza Mayor........the town square, wide steps lead up to the Casa de la Musica. Here tourists and locals from Cuba's Trinidad, congregate. They fill the tables and chairs outside the bars to listen to music and enjoy a break by day, or to dance the night away.
Displaying their skilful renditions, the traditional Cuban band played with beat and rhythm, the signature of Cuban Music
The audience, caught up in the magic of the moment, grooved or moved, as they downed the local beer or sipped freshly made mojito’s, - the traditional Cuban drink of lime juice, crushed mint and local white rum. CASA DE MUSICA VIDEO
Views of Trinidad
The square is distinctive with its white wrought iron fencing, enclosing grass decked with ornate white wrought iron seating, and old fashioned lamps on white standards. Edging the square, were picturesque sherbert coloured houses of yellow, aqua, blue and pink.
When an old man, straw cowboy hat atop his head, clatters by on his donkey, you feel you have stepped straight out of a picture book. The cobbled roads added to the old world ambience.
Wandering Trinidad, Cuba's wonderful old town where time has totally stood still, we passed schools and kindergartens open to the road. The solid bars over the full length window spaces, were all that was keeping the children in.
Going into a school, the pupils were seated at their simple wooden desks much like I remember in my early school years in the 1950's. These eight and nine year olds were neat in their wine red shorts, pleated skirts and white shirts with little bow ties. Their teacher was happy for me to look at the children's work, and proudly showed me some of the children's achievements.
Eating in Trinidad
Carmen took great pride in dishing up some tasty meals. Thick, pink guava juice, guava cocktail, our choice of lobster, shrimps, pork or beef, with salads, followed by crème brulee – a traditional dessert in Trinidad and indeed Cuba.
Surprisingly, I never found out where they bought the ingredients. The meal just seemed to appear, from some hidden source. Yet seafood and meat was plentiful. Fruit while limited to bananas, guava, pineapple and oranges, was also in abundance on our tables. You just did not see fruit and vegetable shops, butchers or fish shops.
Playa Ancon, 12 kilometers from Trinidad Cuba is usually excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving. We could see the waves beating the rocks on a point in the distance, from the deck of our second floor room.
Taking a taxi to one of the resorts lining the white sandy beach, we were disappointed to find swimming was banned due to the weather and rough sea. So far, the only real affect we were feeling from the hurricane.The least affected place was Trinidad Cuba
Where as Havana was without power, with winds whipping up the seas so high they were as tall as the light house we were reliably informed.
The life guard, his white shorts and singlet distinguishing him from the tourists, blew the whistle hanging round his neck long and loud, whenever anyone looked like they were venturing near the water. The bikini clad girl by us, soaked from head to toe and clearly having disobeyed the edict, was given a severe telling off and warning.
We spent some time in the shade of some low growing trees that spread over the sand, providing welcome shelter from the blazing sun, until we were too hot to stay any longer.
ENJOY THIS VIDEO OF TRINIDAD AND PLAYA ANCON
A Playa Ancon Resort
Deciding to check out a couple of the hotel complexes, one was almost eerie in the silence and lack of patrons. The other showed more signs of life, with crowds lying on deck chairs with colourful cotton cushions, shaded by equally colourful umbrellas.
Finding a table, we sipped delicious creamy pina colada’s, as we watched people swimming in the cool waters of the pool. Others were trying out the steps being taught by the hotel dancing tutor. It was entertaining watching the sometimes bumbling efforts of her mostly teenage charges.
Dancing finished, the public Spanish lesson followed in quick succession.
Here, the words were displayed on a large board. The glamorous young tutor pronounced the word for the pupils – anyone who was interested, to repeat. You took part in the lesson at least partially, whether you chose or not, as there was no escaping, unless you moved.
We were to learn that these lessons were part and parcel of any hotel “entertainment”. Most hotels at the beach resorts have prepaid packages that include food, drinks and a range of entertainment throughout the day and night.
A Co-co Taxi ride to Trinidad
Deciding to return to Trinidad,Cuba's funny little coco taxis seemed a good option. We were keen to experience these strange vehicles. Yellow banana shaped seating shells, fitted over a motor bike, similar to a tuk- tuk.
Climbing in, we headed into town in a noisy, slow, haze of blue smoke. As we approached the outskirts of the town, the taxi ground to a halt. We were out of petrol. Climbing out, we guiltily wondered if our combined weight had helped chew up his petrol faster than usual.
Fortunately, our driver found a can of petrol near by and filling up, we were soon on our way again.
Museo Historico Municipal Tower
Climbing the tower of the Museo Historico Municipal you get a wonderful view over the old tiled terracotta roofs of Trinidad Cuba and out to the coast. Originally a mansion, with a shady owner, the rooms house interesting neo classical displays, and a bookshop.
Staying several extra days waiting out Hurricane Wilma, battering many other parts of the country, we filled our time in and around Trinidad ,Cuba's beautiful old town, thankful we had come here at just the right time. Apart from some wind, we were able to enjoy the town, with none of the discomforts of the hurricane experienced in many other parts of the country.
That was to come later, when we found there were no flights out of Cuba and our next destination, Cancun had been so damaged our week there was off. That is a story for another time.