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Published: August 26th 2014
After a wonderful day diving, it was time to get moving again. I had arranged with my taxi driver the day before for my ride to El Nicho waterfall and onto the town of Trinidad. It was necessary to take a taxi in order to get to the waterfall which was pretty much on the way to Trinidad. The driver was a bit enamored of me, and I took this into consideration when he arrived on time, told me to sit shotgun and stopped for me to get a pizza and water for breakfast. He was the first driver to arrive on time and not change the price on me. He tried flattering me by telling me if I stayed in Cuba for three more months no one would be able to tell I wasn’t Cubana. I took it to mean my Spanish was good, though I’m not sure that’s what he meant.
We drove for about an hour along the coast in the early morning. I could get used to these views every morning I thought to myself as we made our way south. This was a little backward in my planning, but made sense
as far as the Viazul bus route I would eventually be taking from Trinidad.
I arrived at El Nicho a bit before 8 am. The park was empty and no one was at the gate, so I walked right through without paying an entrance fee. The trail was well marked and soon I was at the most beautiful, wide, massive waterfall I’d ever seen. It was so impressive I stood just staring at it as water sprayed me.
I walked a bit more along the trail and came to the most extraordinary all natural pool I’ve ever seen. It was a bit chilly that early in the morning, but I didn’t care. I stripped down to my bikini and got in. (Re: travel motto- You never regret a swim.) The pool had a much smaller fall falling into it and had three or four smaller pools. I swam all around taking in the view from every vantage point.
I got out and sat on a bench near the pool thankful for my early arrival and the solitude it gave me. I wrote in my journal surrounded by the sounds of the
water falling. It would have been perfect were it not for the mosquitoes, the first I’d really encountered my whole trip.
I walked along the trails veering off here and there to see where one might lead. It was beautiful and starting to warm up. I walked back to the entrance and found out there were more trails across the street. I walked down those and discovered even more giant falls. At one point I was at the top of one looking down to the crashing water below. El Nicho was certainly another highlight of my trip.
I returned to my taxi driver who had been waiting, and we continued on to Trinidad about an hour more. I found a casa across from the casa my driver recommended when la dueña wouldn’t go down in price from $25 CUC to $20.This casa was on Trip Advisor and was by far the best and cleanest of all. It did however lack a bit of the personal touch I’d grown fond of along the way. It even had little soaps and shampoos, a treat I had forgotten about
during my time in Cuba. I kept them to give away. I got the casa for $20 CUC including breakfast, much to the chagrin of the Germans I would meet a bit later.
After settling in my room, I went walking, first to find a cadeca to exchange money for the third time of my trip. I was happy to realize I was keeping on track with my money, even staying a bit under what I had anticipated per week, even with diving, my biggest expense of the trip. Then, I got lunch, I splurged a bit, perhaps due to the realization that I was under my expected budget, and ordered the lobster, which of course was hardly a splurge compared to American prices at $12 CUC. I shared my meal with a very friendly bird who quite enjoyed the cucumbers from my cucumber and tomato salad.
I walked around the city a bit after lunch, bought a bottle of rum and some Tukola and headed back to my casa to sit on the rooftop and write postcards. Soon the Germans, Eva and Niels exited their
"This is where I am"
I like to take time to really appreciate where I am. I started this traveling motto and pose in '98 on my first backpacking trip in Europe. I believe the first "This is where I am," photo was in the Colosseum in Rome... Sometimes it's just hard to believe where you've come and you have to remind yourself
room. They were quite friendly and told me of their day at the tobacco factory. We ended up discussing our plans for the next few days. They too were heading to Playa Girón and Eva was looking for a dive buddy. Perfect.
Their plan for the evening was to check out the cave bar that I’d heard about since planning this trip. They invited me along. We went to a couple other bars along the way just checking out the scene in Trinidad, including one bar where we had our own private rooftop balcony with a great view of the city. Then we headed for the cave bar, Disco Ayala.
Words cannot describe what my eyes saw. It was beyond anything I could have imagined and then some. It was the biggest cave I’ve ever been in and makes me debate whether I should call it a ‘cave bar’ or a ‘bar cave.’ It was 3-4 stories high in some places, so dark in others that you’d need a flashlight if it weren’t for all the blinking disco lights. We sat at a table and never once forgot we were in a cave due
to the dripping of water on us from above, even though by all other accounts we were most certainly in a disco with loud music, live dancers and flashing lights. It was, quite simply, out of this world! Another highlight. That’s three in a row- Diving, El Nicho and the cave bar or bar cave!
I encourage readers to check out this site to view pictures of this awesome bar. It was just too dark for my camera to get any good pictures. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2640400/Fire-walkers-three-bars-five-dancefloors-Disco-Ayala-Trinidad-Cuba-housed-inside-NATURAL-CAVE.html-
Traveling tip #19 Arrive Early
This has happened to me a few other times before on other trips, though you can never exactly plan on it, but sometimes, when you arrive early enough (read, so early the place isn’t exactly open) you just might gain free entrance to whatever it is you’re hoping to visit that day. It happened for me at El Nicho and as a shoestring traveler, any money saved is appreciated.
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