I aimed for the tourist Mecca of TRINDAD, about a 5 hour bus trip from Havana. Trinidad is near the south coast in the central region of the island and is a pretty hopping spot for tourists. Mainly this is due to the deservedly awarded UNESCO heritage site designation, which was awarded in this 90's, presumably for the pretty pretty buildings and ankle cracking cobblestone. Also, the stray dogs, so friendly. I'm normally scared crazy of stray dogs what with their ability to bite me with rabies and kill me zombie style, but Trinidad's stray population is completely quaint! I digress...
I arrived in Trinidad after dark, which is never a great thing to do, especially when you don't have a bed lined up for the night. Which I did not. I also HATE giving the touts at the bus station money, so I zip straight past them and wandered the streets solo. I was glad to find out though that the Trinidad streets are very well lit! And wide, so not freaky at all! After asking at a few doors, a lady took pity on me, she let me chill in her living room playing with her puppy while
she called around and found me a vacant room. I was there 30 minutes later, and showering, thankfully.
The main activity in Trinidad is to wander. Which is great, because then you don't need to look at your map ever. So that's what I did for my time there, wander! And UNESCO did get it right on this one, Trinidad is lovely, with streets after streets of richly painted homes, intricate wrought iron gates and screens, and those ankle damning though picturesque cobblestone drives. A few churches, a look out tower, and a creeping but not quite rampant bout of diarrhoea later led me to climb up to a look out tower hill several hundred meters above town. I know, totally unreasonable.
The lookout is behind town at a communications tower and is a great viewpoint over Trinidad, all the way out to the ocean, and behind town into what was previously a sugar growing valley. I heaved my way to the top and was met by an Austrian couple and soon enough the guy working the communications tower came out and led us to the roof of one of the buildings for an even better view. I
was worried he was going to get us to climb the tower, which I totally would have then had to do, blerg. But no, just a small ladder. He gave us background about the area and a glass of mango juice. I gave him some moola. Bargain, and beautiful!
After descending, I wandered town a bit more and found a place to have a life saving water, before giving up and going back to my casa to let my tummy do the talking. Later on in the afternoon I went out again to do Internet and found a huge live concert happening in one of the parks. The audience was all local, as opposed to the bands playing in the main plaza for the tourists. Trinidadians of all ages were there dancing and sipping rum, in public! I know. Cuban rum, not just a prop in Pirates of the Caribbean.
At this point I also made the mature decision to not go hiking the next day, based on tummy 'inconsistencies', and instead found out when the bus to the beach left town. That's right, there is a specific bus, devoted to taking people the 15km from Trinidad to
and from the beach. It is aptly named the Beach Bus. I figured tummy issues or not, I would get to the beach, and lay.
Which is exactly what I did the next day. Bus at 9, on the beach by 9:45, great set-up! I listened to country music, gazed at the ocean with a certain landlubber-from-Kyrgyzstan-oh-how-i-have-missed-the ocean kind of lust, and read Amy Poehler's book. I paid $2 for the beach chair and it was totally worth it. I didn't eat anything, not taking any chances. And my brand new Walmart bikini top made my tatas look terrific!
Back in Trinidad, I went to the main plaza that night to listen to some music and I drank a mojito there. I watched the stray dogs bark at each other and then one of the Cuban waiters realized I was alone and assumed I hadn't recently told anybody I was travelling "all alone", so remedied that. No friend? No. No boyfriend? No. No husband? Get lost asshole!
I still don't know why people find a solo traveller so hard to believe, though for this Casanova's part he was probably just insuring a psychotic wrestler of a boyfriend
wasn't going to show up and kick his ass. Regardless, whenever someone starts hitting on me in a foreign language I finish my drink pretty quick and scoot.
I found a small local cafe and had dinner and another mojito. This one was, ahem, VERY strong. Holy Kabolee strong. I took a sip and swayed a bit. Don't worry, I still finished it, No Quit HERE! And I had a very tasty meal, though it obviously played second fiddle to the mint leaves on the bed of rum. By the end of the meal, I needed a bottle of water, badly. Unfortunately, corner stores are not really much of a thing in Cuba, so I wandered a while, searching for water while avoiding the main square and my Cuban Romeo. Finally I found some water, returned to my casa, pet the puppy and fell into a kind of exhaustion that only comes after a day of baking on a beach and then drinking Hulk strong mojitos.
The next day I left Trinidad in a maelstrom that is the bus station check in procedure (read: shit show). Three doors, all saying 'check in', but really one is for bag
check, one is for buying tickets last minute, and only one is for check in...but which one?!? I figured it out, and got on the bus, which was only taking me 90 minutes up the road to Sancti Spiritus, a town the Lonely Planet spoke well of, but that nobody else did. After the tourist hubs of Havana and Trinidad, I thought I would try a town less touristy and see for myself. And I'm glad I did! About that, next time...
Points to ponder...
I say the strays were quaint in Trinidad, but when I was in the main plaza and something sparked them, about 10 dogs, most of which looked vaguely related, descended on a specific target. Not violently, but barking. Then they stopped. And one wandered back to me and laid down beside me in a beach and mojito kind of exhaustion.
I stayed in two casas in Trinidad. The second one had a really cute puppy who snuck into my open room and tore apart my bathroom trash basket.
Also of note, like in Kyrgyzstan, you don't flush used toilet paper in Cuba. It goes into the bathroom trash basket.
I was climbing to the lookout in Trinidad, I passed a Cuban woman who asked where I was from. When I said Canada, she got excited and waved me over and spilled into her lap a bunch of coins from all over the world, that tourists had clearly given her, but she didn't have any Canadian. She asked if I had any Canadian money on me. Sadly I didn't, or I totally would have given her some coins. I liked this lady, and her enterprising racket/hobby.
I'm on book #6. In a week. I set a Goodreads goal of reading 27 books in 2016, I think I'll make it.
Hemingway is big here, so I googled him and read his wiki page today. Did you know he killed himself with a double barrelled shotgun??!?! His arms must have been very long.
On that note, I'll wrap this one up. Next will be from Sancti Spiritus!
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