I am awake before sunrise – I’m somehow quite jittery. So I get up and walk to the terrace to watch Trinidad get slowly bathed in golden morning light – at least just for a while, since the usual clouds over Cuba appear again. From the street below I can hear a bit of noise – people going to go to work, some tractors, and kids – seems school is about to start. I don’t want to miss this opportunity. Since Frank needs his beauty rest, I sneak out alone.
A good decision – I get to see the everyday life in the city somewhat differently: Some pupils walking past me – probably on the way to their first class – all dressed in school uniforms. You can probably never see the Plaza Major as empty as on this time of the day and I get to see the construction of today’s market… I stroll along some streets – some farmers are just going to drive their fields – until I get on my way back…
Frank is already awake when I arrive, so we have breakfast first before we pay for the room and bring our belongings to the other Casa Particular of Jesús. Actually, we could have stayed at Lucys Casa as the rooms are great and Lucy, our hostess, is super friendly – but we agreed yesterday to do it this way . At Jesús place we get greeted by the usual cordial Cuban way, and Jesús asks if we had already had breakfast. “Yes? But you can always eat fruit!” and give me a plate and a knife. If we want to have mangos, we should just go up to the terrace, any time. He doesn’t have to say this twice. Some extended breakfast … or something like that. And yes, the mangos here can not be compared with the puny imported ones we can get at our local supermarkets. Tastebuds explosion! So much for lunch today. After a little small talk with Jesús and about our plans for today, we set out to explore the city. Depending on how late we come back, we can still let him know if we want to have dinner here. Great !
Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis
We already knew that there is an old church ruin on a hill here, from which you have a great view. We pass the church of San Francisco de Asis (Its bell tower is the landmark of Trinidad)… Here, a band plays typical Cuban salsa on the church square, so we listen to their music for a few minutes before following the Calle Desengaño up the hill. The houses here look quite more decayed than the ones at the city center, and we soon get approached by a woman with two young children asking for some soap… We had already heard that certain ordinary household items (tampons, condoms…) are rather seen as luxury goods – but soap? I guess that people who are not involved in the tourism business here, have rather CUP than CUC in their pockets… I feel really lousy having to apologize since I have none. Yet, we find some sweets for the kids in our backpacks and the woman cannot thank us enough for a few bank notes we give her. This doesn’t seem like some sort of poly to us – it’s really scary how huge the gap in quality of life between the rich and the poor is actually here…
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de la Popa
We walk a little further, the road changes to a dirt road and leads us to the ruins of the oldest church of Trinidad “Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de la Popa”. There is not really much left of the building, but we cannot get close as it is right in a fenced area of a construction site… Looks like a hospital is about to be built here… The view from here is already quite interesting, we but we decide to keep going – Frank almost stumbles over a dog that has followed us since the last crossing. “Hey there… Well, we do not have anything for you… You shouldn’t give chocolate to dogs, right?”. We get past a discotheque which is built right into a cave and follow the trail up the hill… There seems to be a telecommunication tower at the top… “Señora perra” is well-behaved and shows us the way. Soon she finds herself a stick and we can play fetch. After passing some old bunkers, we arrive at the top after about 30 minutes.
Cerro de la Vigia
The area of the telecommunication tower is fenced, but the guard here has already seen us from a distance – “You want to enjoy the view from there? Nonsense, come in!”. The hill here is called “Cerro de la Vigia” and the guy working here shares a 12h shift with a colleague who will replace him in the evening. This job doesn’t really seem exciting – from time he has to check the generator when the power fails (which happens quite often, he tells us). He likes watching sports channels on television – of course, baseball. In the meantime, “Señora perra” has made herself comfortable in the shadow under the steel staircase to the tower. We gave her some water from one of the bottles that we had taken with us and in her exitement we spilled it almost everywhere . “We call the dog the ‘tourist dog’, he just likes to walk up and down the track here with company.” We chat a bit about sports and he leads us up to the roof of the radio tower. Awesome view! We get a lot of information about the “Valle de los Ingenios”, which is clearly visible from here, and the sugar cane production. Some luxury hotels and villas at the city limits of Trinidad can also be seen from here. You can even see the sea from here! Playa Ancon is supposed to be quite beautiful. The guard tells us that we should definitely visit the beach and the “Casa de la Musica” here in Trinidad in the evening, but it can get quite crowded and touristy… There are many other bars though with good live music. We chat for a while till we should get going… We thank him for the great tour with all the information he gave us (and he also thanks us in return for the chat – it can get really quite boring up here)
After arriving at the Plaza Mayor, “Señora perra” finds herself some new people are about to go up the hill. We sit down at one of the benches at the square and watch some lizards sunbathing. Tomorrow we should go to Playa Ancon, but today we want to stroll some more through the city. We have a brief look into the Museo Romántico just in front of us before we have a walk through the streets. Passing the Casa de la Musica, we stroll round until we get back to the city center. Getting back for dinner to our accommodation is probably too late now. We decide for the restaurant “Sol y Son”, a small family business (called “Paladar” in Cuba) from which we can already hear some live music. Excellent choice. The food tastes great and the musicians know how to entertain the guests .
Casa de la Musica
We end our evening on the steps of the Casa de la Musica. It is really quite crowded here – and surprisingly not only with tourists. We cannot get to the building itself anyways, but there is a “window bar” at the corner in which a very young Cuban prepares cocktails and sells them out of the window – the 2 CUC (2.00 USD)-Mojitos are not bad… not bad at all. Since we get to chat with some folks on the stairs of the Casa de la Musica we don’t stop at one drink – this will be a long night for sure today.