Postcards from... Cuba – 4 – Back to the 19th century & amazing nature – Trinidad & area

March 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

If Havana - and the rest of Cuba - often feel like a 1950s time capsule, in Trinidad time seems to have stopped a century earlier, before the car era. From the central Plaza Mayor ...

[Version française ici]

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 ... to the hilly streets ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 Trinidad feels like a village.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Here, horse drawn carriages are not for tourists.

DSC_8434Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

The small town has a distinctive architecture of low, gridded-window colonial houses ... Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

... and wildly uneven cobblestone streets.

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The grids enable the windows to stay open and air to flow through, (somewhat) cooling down the interior. It's convenient for security, but not so great for privacy, although this doesn't seem to be a top concern. 

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 Interiors range from dinstinguishly colonial to... slightly strange?

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018   Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Unsurprisingly, Trinidad is one of the most touristy towns in Cuba.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

In the evening, tourists congregate on Plaza Mayor to listen to live music of varying quality levels.

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Music is everywhere, from the bars to the streets.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 The few Cubans who manage to fully benefit from the tourism industry often proudly adopt Western style codes ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018   Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018  

... sometimes adapted to the colorful local life.

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A large part of the communication is distinctly low-tech 😊 ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018   Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018  

... and the amazing American cars are not quite as pristinely maintained as in La Havana.

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For the vast majority of the population, the traditional lifestyle prevails ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 ... and in state-run stores, food is rationed like in the rest of the country: no bread or eggs without the "booklet" / "libretto".

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 Yet, especially outside of the touristy areas, Cubans are super friendly.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Amazing Caribbean islands are a couple hour catamaran ride away from Trinidad, making wonderful day trip excursions ...

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... like Cayo Macho, with its fine white sand beach ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018
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... a.k.a. Cayo Iguana, named after the a large colony of very friendly prehistoric looking animals!

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The shallow waters around the island make for interesting discoveries.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 To get back to Trinidad, rather cool taxis await 😊

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Just North West of Trinidad, the Escambray mountains offer some of the most stunning wild natural environments of Cuba: a jungle where bamboo grows thick and ferns appear to be levitating.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018   Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

The Guayanara park also hosts stunning waterfalls, like El Rocio ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018El Rocio waterfall, Guayanara park

... and superb, irresistible natural swimming pools.

Cuba - Escambray mountains - Guayanara rangeCuba - Escambray mountains - Guayanara range

Cienfuegos, quiet colonial town just 80km West of Trinidad, proposes a very different vibe from other Cuban cities thanks to its French designed layout.

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

Here too, striking palaces have been updated in vibrant colors...

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018   Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

... and some scenes seem to come straight out of a 1950s movie set. Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018 The central plaza is the focal point of the animation...

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

... but that's still very relative - overall Cienfuegos remains a rather sleepy town,

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

and the overall pace of life seems to match the vintage of the cars

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018 Everything seems to move a bit more slowly there.

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018 Traffic control had to adjust to the local realities...

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018 Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

... and horse carriages are not just for tourists.

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

In this context, smartphones, routinely used to make video calls, seem even more anachronistic than in the rest of Cuba...

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

Cuban's faith seems to mostly express itself privately, although it sometimes manifests itself in... glowing ways, like with this statue in my guest house.

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

As usual, the standard ideological / revolutionary propaganda dominates the public space communication.

Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018Cuba – Cienfuegos – 2018

To the East of Trinidad, the Valley de los Ingenios offers a testimony of the early 19th century sugar cane based local economy...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

... and the "steam" train which runs through it looks like a toy.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Remnants of the once grand plantations, can still be visited, giving an idea of the lives people had here, whether they were slaves crammed into cramped quarters ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

... or rich owners coming from Trinidad to live on the plantation each year for the duration of the crop.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Their mansions enabled them to maintain their fancy lifestyles.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

One, Alejo Maria del Carmen Iznaga, even build a seven story tower ...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

...  to watch his 231 slaves. (Another story suggests that he built it to lock his unfaithful wife on the top floor...)

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

Now, the area is also a prime tourist destination, some of whom travel in style 😊...

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018 ... and more cigars are sold than sugar!

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

On the roads, we are constantly reminded of the country's values.

Cuba – Trinidad – 2018Cuba – Trinidad – 2018

You liked reading this article? Please share it! Thank you! – and comments are always welcome.
And if you liked it, you will probably also enjoy my other articles on Cuba:

Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018 Cuba – Havana • La Havane • La Habana – 2018Cuba – Havana • La Havane • La Habana – 2018 DSC_5567DSC_5567 Cuba – Santiago – 2018Cuba – Santiago – 2018
My first impressions of Cuba, including my favorite pictures of Cuba overall - the article to read first and foremost 😉 A trip back to the 1950s in present day Havana, Amazing nature in the West: Viñales & Cayo Levisa island. Santiago de Cuba,
the rebel of the South East

Stay tuned, more to come!
Didier.


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