Gillybeans Overseas Year Out Break Travel Holiday Thing travel blog

Sunrise

Plaza

Church

Cars

Beach

Valley

Plantation

Tower

Sugar Press

House

Cattle

River

Railway.....cubans only!

Bridge

Trinidad Clock Tower

Car

Dalmation

The kind of guys we were pulling on the dance floor!


Monday 13th August 2007

So it was an early taxi to the bus station where I saw the best sunrise I have ever seen...maybe that's because I have only seen about four but it was still really good. Slept most of the way to Trinidad so we were both a little underprepared and overwhelmed by the welcoming committee of Casa Particular touts when we arrived. They were all held back behind a rope but that didn't help once you went through yourself. Going with a barge on through approach didn't seem to work as they were clearly very experienced at harassment and Zoe and I ended up walking down the street with three people all shouting at us and shoving pictures in our faces. They all wanted us to go and look at their properties which we really couldn't be bothered doing so we randomly picked a guy who had a place nearby and off we went.

So we had a lovely little room with balcony above the family house for only $25 a night. He filled out his government paperwork and we went out to look around the UNESCO heritage city of cobbled streets and colonial houses. We went for lunch where I was served a Coca Cola (how is that possible?) when I asked for cola...seems you have to ask for the suspiciously similar looking can of Cuban 'Tu Cola' by name. Tour agencies weren't much help in assisting us with doing our own thing so we walked across town to the railway station to find out about tickets to El Valle de los Ingenios. That resulted in absolutely nothing as basically...well they just didn't want to sell gringos tickets. So we spent the afternoon wondering the streets and passing locals open windows, quite often sighting rather frightening black dolls given pride and place sitting alone in rocking chairs in the middle of the lounge....either that or dalmations peeking out of windows....dalmations seem to be the Cuban dog of choice. There were also plenty of classic car photo opportunities. We went out for dinner in the evening and were soon following a lady to her home where she offered meals in her paladare (home run restaurant). Having walked through the family lounge, sidestepping boys in front of t.v. we were seated in the garden were we were the only guests for a set dinner of chicken, rice, salad and of course Cuba Libre! After that we went in search of the music action that Trinidad had to offer and found half the town sitting on the steps by the cathedral at bar Escalinata enjoying the live band.

Tuesdday 14th August 2007

Took a look around Museo Romantico which was full of furniture from the colonial houses and after booking tomorrows tour we went off in a taxi with a couple of German girls to playa Ancon....because well it was hot and we hadn't been to the beach in two days! We took the owner of our Casa Particular up on his offer of dinner and sat and ate and drank on the balcony at some points in the dark when the power went out.

Wednesday 15th August 2007

Confusing start to the day at Cubatur waiting for our trip to Maneca-Iznaga and El Valle de los Ingenios. In typical Cuba style nobody seemed to know that we were all going and a group of us just sat around waiting for the bus to show. We had a stop at an old plantation which was overshadowed by a rather imposing tower that was used to watch over the slaves working in the fields. The grounds were overrun by ladies selling lace items and several of them asked for soap. We had brought some into Cuba but forgot to carry it with us. The heat was so intense I think we were quite grateful to be on the tour as the only relief was getting back on the air conditioned bus. Next stop was another colonial property where I have to say the general sites were overshadowed by a tempramental European couple having an extremely public row which left us all feeling we would rather head back to the property for a drink!

Back in Trinidad in the afternoon we went to the Museo de la Lucha Contra which was a very interesting although slightly incomprehensible (a common feature of Cuban museums as it would turn out) history of the beginnings of the Revolution. We stopped into a locals sandwich bar afterwards and were greeted with complete disdain, a refusal of service, filthy look and then, well 'I guess any money is good money service'. The economy in Cuba is very confusing with the pesos valued at 24 to the Convertibles which tourists have to use which are in turn about 2 to the pound. So at nearly 50 pesos to the pound I guess you can understand when they don't want to serve you food costing 5-10 pesos when there are plenty of Cubans who need to eat it too....but then we are thinking why am I paying 4 pounds for a pizza in this restaurant when I can buy a pizza on the street for 10 pence. Anyway we got some cheese sandwiches in pesos and I actually came away feeling a little guilty. I guess I thought any money you pay is supporting their economy but I think shortages are that bad that you are basically taking food that is needed by Cubans. At the other end of the scale we then went to the state run communications centre to use the phones but found it was $6 a minute....so stuck to the internet! We stopped for a drink after that where Zoe was offered dance classes by someone looking suspiciously like Leroy from Fame and then went out to Club Amigos de las Parrandas in the evening, a bar famous for being a backyard complete with chickens and rusting bath tub sat beside a musical trio where we were flung around to salsa by a couple of oldies. I ended up doing more talking than dancing seeing as...well I can't really salsa and after half an hour was getting really quite frustrated. There seem to be two types of Cubans....the really poor workers and then the "I have family in Florida and it's only a matter of time types". The man I was talking to efll into the second category andgenerally seemed to feel that it wasn't fair I could afford to be there, we were all rich and of course we should be all taking them out for drinks. I pointed out that he had probably never met a genuinely rich person because they wouldn't be in Cuba, they are sat in Barbados and the Bahamas but then we proceed to go up to Casa de la musica with a group of people in toe. A couple of young girls requested (that's being polite!) a can of pop and I said yes but was quite taken aback when we go the bar and stopped to look at the band to hear I was being hissed at...by a twelve year old demanding I go to the bar immediatly to her drink! I bought Zoe and I a beer and the girls a can of pop to which they asked "where's the other for my friend" at which point I got a little ratty and said where is the thankyou! Having lost interest in us now they had their drinks we went into Casa de la Musica for a dance where a guy we had met earlier was buying drinks and passing them through to men waiting outside the window who couldn't afford to come in....it was really quite a strange night.



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