To the colonial city of Trinidad. Entry comes with lots of pictures
17.12.2016 - 18.12.2016 31 °C
But first we stopped at Guanaroca Lake, famous for its flamingos and birdlife. Another charismatic guide – she’d learnt English from American movies and kept saying ‘Jesus!’ and ‘My god!’ – showed us the mangroves, crabs and plants on the walk in.
And then we took a boat ride on the tranquil lake, spotting cormorants, storks and eventually flamingos. They let us get way too close; clearly we were disturbing them, because they kept walking and then eventually flying away. The flying was pretty spectacular, though.
Apparently around April to May, there are ten times the flamingos. Many migrate to Florida for the winter, if I understood correctly.
Then to Trinidad. Our taxi driver was playing American music quite loudly for most of the journey, so Rosie asked where Cubans get their foreign music. The internet access isn’t good enough to download songs, and we don’t think there’s anything for sale.
The answer is paquetas, or packets, containing a USB of (presumably pirated) movies, music, TV shows and others from the States, Argentina, Brazil and the rest of the world. For US$1, you can get 1GB of an assortment of these, reasonably up to date and apparently random. We asked who produces them, and who’s making the money, and he didn’t know. It’s fascinating how Cuba’s isolation doesn’t stop people from getting what they want.
Anyway, Trinidad is a very pretty colonial town that reminds me of a couple of the Brazilian mining towns Caroline and I visited about a year ago (http://samoline.travellerspoint.com/114/). Unfortunately Caroline isn’t here to agree or disagree with me.
The view from the terrace of our casa
We took a walking tour with the extremely knowledgeable Javier, who answered hundreds of our questions as we visited squares, art galleries, restaurants, churches and bodegas (ration stores). The colonial buildings of the old city, built with sugar money from the 19th Century, transitioned into a more modern city, without cobblestone roads and with bigger blocks.
Rosie had the camera and took hundreds of photos, mostly of smiling people:
People are allowed to throw their wastewater on the street on Saturdays (from sinks and things, not sewage), so there was a stream running down many roads
We bought an artwork from this bloke (similar from the one behind)
Prices at a bodega (ration store). A pack of cigarettes costs seven pesos, or about AU$0.35
This building was supposed to be completed in April 2016, but it barely looks like construction has started. Someone has cheekily graffitied ‘2056’ next to the completion date
The main old square, and above that, the art gallery occupying one side of it
Rosie and Javi in the door to our casa
We had been recommended the Casa de la Música (House of Music) for after-dinner beats. The bands were ordinary, though, and more worryingly, there appeared to be a fire a short distance away, because there was ash flying through the air and smoke was clearly visible. (We asked the waiter, who said it was under control.)
If that smoke wasn’t enough, we were getting faces full of cigar smoke from over-enthusiastic tourists who have clearly convinced themselves that they are Cubanos. I was coughing all through the next day from all the passive smoking.
The next day was Linda and Al’s last with us. We celebrated or commiserated by driving to Topes de Collantes, a protected area of mountains and rivers. Our 1951 Hudson Jet struggled up the steep hills at around 20km/h, but we made it eventually, seeing some interesting sights along the way.
Like the view from this lookout. Just below the summit, as it were, there was a man with a tarantula, which Linda gamely picked up twice (unfortunately no photographic evidence was taken).
And we saw this very Soviet-looking apartment block, complete with rusting playground, built in 1970. Someone was getting a haircut out the front.
Our guide, Junior, helped us practise our Spanish and we headed through coffee plantations and over streams, past oxen and eucalypts, culminating in a brilliant waterfall and a gorgeous – if very cold – pool at the bottom. We had it nearly to ourselves at the start, but tens of others came in as we were leaving.
After a bit of a rest, we headed up to the tower of a nearby church to see the sunset. We were a bit late, but still got some reasonable shots.