There are far too many photos of my trip to Cuba for only one blog post. So I'm going to split them up by each town we visited. First Trinidad, second Havana. Enjoy!
Beautiful Trinidad lies on the south side of the island about a 4.5 hour drive from Havana. It was our first stop on the trip. We hired a private taxi to take us from the airport. Our driver Jesus was awesome. During the trip we had a flat tire which he changed, stopped a tiny village for a snack (a flattened bun with some fried egg in it) where I saw a dead goat slung around a guys neck being brought into town, picked up a random stranger at a gas station, and finally arrived at our accommodations 6 hours later. The adventure had begun.
Trinidad could not be more different than Havana. It's in much better condition overall, less crowded, and calmer. Many people get around by horse and 'buggy' here and living is an exercise in resourcefulness (as it is in all of Cuba really). There are no 'stores' as we know them in Cuba. Food is purchased at street stands. There are about 5 veggies to choose from and maybe 4 fruits. From what we could tell, meat is slaughtered every morning and sold in it's entirety that day. In Trinidad I walked by a man stitching up his shoe, friends playing checkers with old bottle caps, dried my hands on communal bath towels in public restrooms, and ate ice cream at a roadside stand with real dishes which I gave back after I was finished. There is no food packaging in Cuba. You don't buy something to go, you buy it and eat it right there... and then go. First world nations could stand to take a page out of Cuba's book when is comes to sustainability. What would you reuse and repurpose if you knew you could not get another?
We knew we wanted to hike in the parks around Trinidad. We were offered many horseback riding tours as we wandered the cobblestone streets but we felt too bad for the sad looking horses to make them work any more. We luckily discovered a nice man working at a restaurant who spoke very good English and showed us where he likes to go with his friends. So we ventured out to Vegas Grande in Topes de Collantes, a waterfall that you could swim under we were told. It was a swelteringly hot day so this sounded perfect. Everyone assured us that the waterfall was very close to the entrance and that it would be very easy. The waterfall ended up being 500 meters from the entrance... down a straight vertical cliff. We criss crossed a narrow, very muddy, path. My sandals broke and our driver (who came with us having never been there before) lent me his (awwww). In the end I just ended up hiking barefoot and that was far superior for the conditions. The hike was definitely worth it. The landscape was gorgeous, the water was ice cold and we saw banana plants, guava trees, coffee plants and air plants all growing in the wild. It was a good hike and we earned our dinner.
The road up to the entrance of this park was not for the faint of heart. Cuban roads are full of potholes, no one drives in their lane and there are some pretty steep cliffs I don't think my little Honda Civic would ever be able to traverse. At one point we found this skull and crossbones warning painted on the road. So that was comforting. I learned to adopt a 'just go with it' attitude in Cuba. It's the only way.
Stay tuned for a post on Havana... which will probably be even longer than this. It's so hard to edit out photos!