Monday, August 11, 2014

Trinidad





Musicians play in one of the squares. You can hear them if you click on the link below
The atmosphere in Trinidad was decidedly different. It was very friendly and relaxed, prices were reasonable and not a single person hustled me or ripped me off. The scale was more human too, with most places within walking distance. Realising that I would lose at least one day, usually two every time I travelled by bus, I decided that it would be better to spend my limited time in Cuba visiting one or two places, rather than trying to cover a lot of ground. This UNESCO recognised World Heritage site was definitely worth a visit.

Horses and carts still ply the cobbled streets and they are still used for deliveries, not just for ferrying tourists.

Main square in Trinidad
 Horses and carts are part of a slower way of life

Beautiful mosaic work on a restaurant

Typical street but behind those modest facades are elegant courtyards


There were Moorish influences in the architecture and modest buildings hid stunning courtyards, including the one in which I stayed. The grilles over the doors are to let the breeze in on hot days. There were craft markets in the street, galleries and music. Music played in the squares and drifted out from the Ruins at night. There was even a nightclub in a cave though it was closed when I went there. I did however meet wonderfully warm  Argentinians when I called at a pub for some smokes.


 Luckily there was an Australian girl who spoke excellent Spanish staying in the same Casa and we were able to go out together for a meal in the evening. We also shared the cost of a cab to visit a nearby National Park, all steamy and tropical where we swam in a waterfall. The way down was easy enough, but I almost expired on the way back. Just when I thought I couldn't go another step and prepared to lie down and die, a man with horses magically appeared. Alas, I didn't beat Rachael back as I'd hoped, nor the gungho Israelis who had just come from a Capoeira (a dance -like martial art) conference and ran all the way up, but I think that was one of the best five dollars I ever spent, though I did feel rather sorry for the horse having to slog uphill through the mud with me on its back. 

)
Cooling off in a waterfall
Afterwards we were just enjoying a well deserved coffee when there was a flash of lightning  and a crack of thunder so loud that I almost landed in Rachel's lap. This was followed by a torrential downpour and we were completely drenched to the skin before we made it back to the cab. The next day Rachael went horse riding but I went to the Valley de Los Ingenios where there were quaint houses and sugar mills from the C19th. There was also a  large tower from which they used to watch the slaves. Alas, I only made it to the first level  of three or four levels because my legs ached  so much. I'm glad I didn't go horse riding!

On the way back I had to run the gauntlet of the ladies selling handcrafts - they are renown for their fine lacework. After I had bought one small item from a heavily pregnant woman "for the baby," that was it. I was mobbed by all the rest offering 2, 3 and more for the same price as I had paid for the first. I ended up with five of these small placemats and nothing else, though they all tried to fit me for a blouse as well after I showed the slightest interest in one.



View from the first level of the tower at the Valley des Los Igenios, another World Heritage site

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