Day 7: As I wandered back last night after dinner and before I actually get to today, I should tell you about my evening sitting in a rocking chair watching baseball and drinking whisky with the family I am staying with. There was a bit of yelling at the TV by my hosts and fortunately many Spanish words for Baseball are very similar to English. At the end of the night their team Pinar del Rio won to tie the series at 3-3 and they play again tonight to see who will be the national champion.
I discovered the sun doesn’t rise til after 7 at this time of year in Cuba. I walked up the black street and the further I walked the more dogs I had following me. I arrived with half a dozen dogs in tow and they decided it was more fun to the bark at a guy on a bicycle.
The bus trip stopped on the outskirts of the town of Australia, Cuba. I asked where a sign was to get a photo but the guy said too far away. Instead I sat down and had a ham, cheese and salami sandwich, while around my feet where chickens and cats eagerly waiting for me to drop something. Didn’t the cats realise chicken is tasty and delicious?
I arrived in Trinidad 2 hours later than I was told, just as the wet season decided to arrive. A bicitaxi offered me a lift so I took it except he had no idea where he was going and I still got wet. Eventually I got to Casa Denymar and I was greeted with a Pina Colada. I’m going to miss the friendly Cubans when this trip is over!
The rain still hasn’t stopped at dinner time so I had no choice but to wander the streets and get a bit wet. I found a place called El Dorado, it looked a bit swish and I didn’t think they were going to let me in. They ushered me to a back room for the non VIPs or could be the other way around. The prices are affordable for such a swish looking price and the Cuba Libre is the usual price with the usual excess of rum. I had some pork strips with garlic and it included a vegetable soup, rice , salad and fried plantains. I love fried plantains! I forgot how much I missed them. The meal cost a surprisingly l0w CUC12 including alcohol and a bread basket also. Normally dinner costs me CUC5-10.
Oh for those awaiting the result of the Cuban baseball, the Ciego de Avila Tigres got up in game 7. Not sure of the final score but it was 8-0 in the 7th inning. My friends in Vinales will be disappointed but it appears the family I’m staying with in Trinidad are avid Tigres fans so all is good.
Day 8: The rain is gone and so is another huge Cuban breakfast. I think I’ve eaten 2 or 3 pineapples, a dozen bananas, plenty of orange and red fruits and at least a dozen eggs this week, plus the 3 or so coffees to start the day. Often I’ve skipped lunch! The sun is out as well, although who knows, a late storm could roll in today.
The sun is aging strong as I head out into Trinidad. It is the kind of town you wander around and discover as you go but as the main plaza and the History Museum of Trinidad were a block away I started there. The main square is on a slight hill and is surrounded by photogenic buildings and the church up hill not too dominant on the square.
I then wandered into the museum which is actually in a house that was owned by a wealthy sugar baron. Some rooms are decorated as they were and others housed various artefacts from the history of Trinidad. The highlight was climbing the tower which was not only slightly tight on the spiral staircase but a tad scary as the wood creaked under my footsteps. The views though are stunning from up there. The town reminds me of Antigua in Guatemala and is a similar style and as well preserved.
I wandered down towards where the bus dropped me off yesterday and decided the walk was probably easier if I had skipped the long bicitaxi ride. I had to visit another Cadeca to change cash, I’m actually spending less that I thought. Anyway the queues for Cadecas are full of tourists with foreign money as well as locals. A lady tried to push in front of me because she only wanted to change CUC2 into pesos. The security guard sorted her out though.
Other that that I’m just walking around the beautiful town, plenty of dulcerias here in Trinidad selling ice creams and some also selling crepes, although when a crepe costs as much as a whole meal I doubt locals are buying them.
I worked out how to call my parents on viber in Cuba in a park when the music was not loud and it was not blistering hot. The stars aligned long enough for a chat and I then found a restaurant for dinner.
I’ve just ordered the “La Parranda” house special of roast pork. Apparently it’s a Cuban specialty, just like my Cuba Libre. There is the almost compulsory band playing (who will offer me their CD or ask for a tip) with a few roosters on the roof above the band having a fight.
My meal includes pumpkin soup starter, but no spoon just curved biscuit shaped hard pieces of bread to eat it with! Impossible to actually eat it all without filling up on biscuit bread. The pork is actually pulled pork and delicious with a roast potato and Gallo pinto (rice with black beans).
I need to say no more convincingly to these bands as I’m building up a collection of Cuban music CDs without evening listening to them!
Tomorrow I’m heading off on a train ride that was a steam train may still be or may be a diesel. Not sure what I’m going to see but that is part of the adventure.
Day 9: I walked down to the Trinidad train station to catch “el tren de Valle de los Ingenios”. It’s much easier to ask for the “tren de turismo”. Trinidad station wins no architecture awards as it’s a small platform with a roof and a non functioning pay phone. It used to be on s spur line off the main railway which runs down the centre of the country but a flood in 1990 took out a bridge and it’s never been repaired.
So the trains still run locally, with early morning service for locals and the tourist train with stops at two towns. Unfortunately uts no longer a steam train, it sits in the yard but given the train carriages are open it may be a good thing as tourists don’t like soot.
The first stop is about an hour after Trinidad in the town of Iznaga which has a nice tall bell tower to climb. Well I think it’s a bell tower as this region used to be run by the sugar barons who were well versed in the use of slaves to work in the cane fields. There is an old house which is now a restaurant, bar and souvenir shop. For some reason the street is full of people selling white embroidered stuff and a guy with a baby falcon wanting you to pay to get a photo with it. There are also bus loads of tourists who were not adventurous enough to buy a train ticket and instead preferred the over priced bus tour for sale at hotels and tour agencies.
So the schedule said 1 hour in the ticket office but it appears there is an hour and a half plus somehow the train which is half full is now full for the next leg of the journey, including a couple in Lycra cycling wear.
The train moved on and caused much confusion when it went past the next stop, however the train turned around using a siding and came back to stop at Guachinango. Which is nothing more than a house that has a bar and apparently sandwiches or so that’s what everyone thought. The house however had meals and the train was selling sandwiches to go along with its ample stocked bar or beer, rum and soft drinks.
The journey back is uneventful although a few people have enough energy to jump around the train to get a photo or two. Trying to organise a bus for tomorrow is proving more difficult even though it’s only 90 minute away. Looks like either going via collectivo or taxi. I went back and had a good chat with the family I’m staying with and told them the casas particulares are one of my favourite things about Cuba. The system works well and travellers benefit as do the casa owners.
I’m spending my last evening in the square listening to the music that is coming from the nearby restaurant occasionally when a tour group turns up they play Guantanamera. From what I can tell if the restaurant has no band the food is also probably average!