Days 20 - 23 Trinidad

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November 29th 2015
Published: December 15th 2015
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Today we headed to Trinidad as a base for the next 4 days. Intending to book bus tickets for the 80 km trip we were approached by the usual touts offering taxi services to wherever you want to go. After negotiating down a price to pickup & dropoff at our apartments at each end the offer was to good to refuse so our Cadillac of choice was a Buick.

Our Buick did not arrive but fortunately another car did with 2 extra passengers. The trip was a much better experience than a bus.

Spent much of the day organising ongoing bus tickets & researching accommodation for these places & then wandered around the old town taking in the sights. The town was founded in the 16th century & is now World Heritage listed. Steep streets work their way up to the old town along small uneven cobbles. Once inside cars are banned with bikes & horse drawn carts the vehicles of choice. The town has a nice atmosphere although commercialism has arrived quickly & some prices are relatively expensive. Good food & restaurants are proving elusive.

Next day was the most disappointing day of the trip so far. Guide books suggest a day trip by an old steam train to the Valle de los Ingenious as a highlight. Home to the area where vast sugar estates were established & boomed on the backs of African slaves we expected to see & understand some of the history at the hacienda but instead turned out to be a line of souvenir stalls lining the path leading to a captive restaurant stop.

Events leading up to train departure were initially comical until the grinding bureaucratic procedure wears you down. Simply buying tickets is chaotic. The office won't open till 30 minutes before departure while more & more people are milling about wondering what is happening & then queuing with only one clerk to deal with sales. It's the same with all government business like bus tickets & phone/internet cards.

Our steam train turned out to be a fumey diesel decommissioned by Russia 40 years earlier. The train seemed to be overloaded & chugged up a steady climb at a cracking 10 kph or thereabouts. A painfully out of tune busker tried serenading each carriage on the way & no doubt hoped to sell some of his CD's or solicit a tip from the cup waved in your face but no cigar in both cases.

The highlights were arriving back safely, a couple of lubricating beers for lunch & a half hour snooze on the way back. Much of next day retracing some of the city we had already been to. Overall Trinidad was a disappointment & did not live up to the guidebook hype. We could have reduced our stay in half.

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