Cuba – Trinidad

7 Oct

Tuesday

OK – so time for a change.  Out goes Havana and welcome to Trinidad (the one on Cuba, obviously).  Memo to me #1 – check the bus times before leaving (fortunately, there WAS a departure that afternoon).  Memo to me #2 – thoroughly check the hotel room before departure (otherwise, you run the risk of having to get the cab driver to turn round half way to the bus station).  Memo to me #3 – check WHICH bus station you need before leaving.

So, 6 hours driving across increasingly beautiful countryside.  It occurred to me that most Cubans don’t even get the chance to go across country, let alone travel to a different country  – and I felt very fortunate that I could travel the world.

So, arrival at Trinidad bus station.  The four Irish girls I had travelled with arrived without their luggage.  (I met them later in the coffee shop (naturally) and apparently it got delivered a couple of hours later).  I, however, was met by a lrge number of people trying to get me to stay with them.  And a lady with a big sign saying in friendly letters ‘TIN’.

Now, here’s where the miracle starts.  My landlady in Havana is friends with my landlady in Trinidad.  So when I announce that I am leaving for Trinidad, they put 2 and 2 together and realised that although I had got the dates wrong for Trinidad, she really ought to meet me anyway.  Which she did – along with a cyclo-taxi (apparently, legends of the weight of my pack have been making their way through the Spanish speaking world (look for the legend of ‘the gringo with legs of iron’ coming to a screen near you soon)

Anyway, no sooner had I settled in to the very comfortable casa particulares when the heavens opened.  When I relayed this to my friend Heather, she simply started referring to me as ‘my little rain god’ – which is probably going to be another legend soon.  Or I will end up on someone’s mantelpiece.  Who knows.

Wednesday

Anyway, the rain proceeded all night long, turning Calle Simon Bolivar, the street outside my casa, into a river.  No, really.  I took a walk and was soaked in seconds – it felt like the entire Straits of Florida was being dumped on the town.  Which would be stupid, because there would have been lots of fish and salt water.  But there wasn’t – just hours of unremitting rain.

I retired to a rocking chair in front of the house and watched the world go by.  Float by, in some cases.

The Cubans, however, simply looked at it as a way to clear their house out and shovelled their rubble and dirt into the centre of the street to watch it disappear.  Probably not popular with the folk at the bottom of the hill though.

So, not a day for visiting anywhere. But a great day for making plans, for thinking thoughts, to do a little bit of dreaming, and to work out exactly how much of my pack ISN’T going to make it to Fiji.

And finally, an unexpected delight for the day – wandering around the deserted streets late at night, with all but the most hardened salsa seekers having gone to ground in a bar somewhere (wise, given that all the salsa events here are al fresco, which is never a good plan in hurricane season), I was treated to the unseen side of Trinidad.  Men mysteriously materialised out of darkened doorways, intent on a night time cigarette, while supernaturally silenced bicycles sloshed their way through the streams and lakes that had replaced the paseos and calles.  Lured into a quiet street by the sound of music wafting on the night air, I realised that as I passed the open windows and doorways, I was being followed by a single musical concert – with most TVs tuned to the same station, the darkened streets and their lone walker were treated to a mysterious and all pervading latin rhythm….

Thursday

And today I wandered around town, discovering lovely little bits and pieces and wondering what the Spanish was for ‘No, I don’t want any cigars because none of my friends smoke them’ and ‘ordinarily I would love to take a taxi but right now I am ambling round the streets enjoying myself’.

I took a walk up to the radio antenna above town, for lovely views over the town, the sea (and the upcoming resort Playa Ancon) and over the old sugar cane plantations.  And I spotted the cave where they hold a disco every night (don’t think so),  A man with binoculars hailed me and pointed out the sights – they lie in wait for unsuspecting tourists and leap out (a bit like the drop bears in Australia).

The casa here is lovely – every now and then Alberto appears and brings food (the best tortilla I have ever had, for one) and this evening was fabulous watching the sun go down in their lovely little patio.

And so, finally, now the rain has cleared.. A warm night under the stars, salsa outdoors at a little ruinas (although sitting on those cobblestone steps is bloody uncomfortable), a fire show (and some glass eating/bottle breaking/general high jinks) – and home to bed….

Friday

Slept really badly last night… for no reason what so ever… but fortified by Alfredo’s tortilla I hired a bike and set off for the 16km ride to Playa Ancon, the nearest beach to Trinidad.  Again, another of those bikes without gears, without brakes and far too uncomfortable- but the ride is fairly flat.  Slowly I stopped being overtaken by buses, mororcycles, horses and other bikes, and the trip started to feel slightly surreal.  Huge dragonflies sailed past like traffic police, while crabs scuttled across the road waving their claws in the air as if they were little old ladies scared of crossing a busy road.  Geckos skittered out of my way like cyclists scattering before a truck, while bird sat in the trees and watched, disinterested.

La Boca coral

I left my bike for a while with the parking attendant (which is a Cuban phrase for ‘the man who stops other people stealing your bike’) Senor Luis while I went snorkelling.  And then finally back to sort out my next stop….

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