Subsidised ice cream, dancing in the cave and Caribbean prickles

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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro » Trinidad
October 14th 2014
Published: November 9th 2014
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The tour began by bus to Cienfuegos with the heat and humidity forcing our first (but not last) stop at the ice cream store. We’d heard of the ice cream stores (government subsidised – brilliant!) and treated ourselves, only to find out later we’d paid in Cuban Convertibles (matched to the USD) instead of Cuban local Pesos (24 = 1 Convertible). We were very happy with our icecream until we realised we’d paid 24 times too much! Henceforth, we carried both currencies and used local pesos where appropriate – tourist mistake #1.

A language lesson the next morning in a beautiful Moorish mansion helped build our Spanglish before we headed to Trinidad, on the Southern coast. It carries a reputation of beautiful buildings, classic cars, salsa, sun and parties in caves. It didn’t disappoint. Just driving into the town we could see it was better preserved than Havana with lovely coloured buildings (reminiscent of Portobello Road in London), classic American cars and a small town vibe. We lucked out with our casa (homestay): 2 terraces, 360° views over the town, sunset over the water and sunrise over the mountains! Muy bien!

Trinidad is home to the very popular ‘Casa de la Musica’ (or ‘the music steps’ in our language limited group), hosting live music and dancing every night for locals and tourists alike. Our two visits gave a taste of fantastic Cuban and salsa music (we even practiced some of the salsa steps we’d be taught by the fun and patient Alex) and an Afro-Cuban show with band with dance performances telling the various aspects of the slave history and fusion of cultures.

Our second day in Trinidad offered a day trip to a waterfall and swim in the bat cave behind it. It was nice to be outdoors and we felt we were earning at least some of the mojitos we’d been enjoying! The afternoon was a feast at a wonderful Cuban tapas restaurant complete with birthday cake for one of our fellow tourists. Contrary to stories of Cuban food being bland this place was incredible traditional food: meatballs, spiced (though not spicy) shrimp, fried root vegetables, pork ribs. Delish!

After our second night at Casa de la Musica we headed up the hill out of town to the infamous club in a cave. Paul had received knowledge of this cave and its wonders so we were eager to party and salsa the night away. We were the lame kids who turned up at opening time; only to wait by the gate for the staff to deem is necessary to let us in. However, first to the bar and choice of table meant we could set up ourselves for a night of fascinating people watching! The club got jumpin’ jumpin’ about 1am and it was very entertaining to watch the locals (including the ladies of the night making their moves). All the men in our tour group were approached enroute to the bathroom, the ladies offering various services and when the boys declined they instead just asked for a beer!

Final day in Trindad was a group excursion to the beach for a BBQ dinner and bonfire. Our first swim in the Caribbean Sea was thrilling - approximately 28°C! Unfortunately it became thrilling in a whole new sense when an unidentified organism made contact with Courtney’s back. Slime and instant prickles made for a swift exit from the water. Luckily a fresh water rinse, and dose of stingoes and a group diagnoses and discussion was all that was needed to continue enjoying the night! The BBQ and sunset that followed was superb with our salsa instructor Alex doubling as waiter / bar tender to keep the party going alongside a couple of guitarists playing Cuban classics, which we were becoming quite familiar and partial to by now.


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