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 …

Trinidad main square - Cuba

… to the hilly streets …

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

Trinidad feels like a village.

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

Here, horse drawn carriages are not for tourists.

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

The small town has a distinctive architecture of low, gridded-window colonial houses …

Trinidad street scene - Cuba
Trinidad street scene - Cuba

… and wildly uneven cobblestone streets.

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

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.

Interiors range from dinstinguishly colonial to… slightly strange?

Trinidad interior - Cuba
Trinidad street scene - Cuba

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

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

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

Trinidad main square at night - Cuba

Music is everywhere, from the bars to the streets.

The few Cubans who manage to fully benefit from the tourism industry often proudly adopt Western style codes …

Trinidad street scene - Cuba
Trinidad street scene - Cuba

… sometimes adapted to the colorful local life.

Trinidad street scene - Cuba

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

Trinidad street scene - Cuba
Trinidad street scene - Cuba

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

American 50s car in Trinidad - Cuba

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

Shopping in Trinidad - Cuba

… and in state-run stores, food is rationed like in the rest of the country: no bread or eggs without the “booklet” / “libretto”.

Shopping in Trinidad - Cuba

Yet, especially outside of the touristy areas, Cubans are super friendly.

Shopping in Trinidad - Cuba

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

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

Cayo Macho / Cayo Iguana island - Cuba
Cayo Macho / Cayo Iguana island - Cuba

… a.k.a. Cayo Iguana, named after the a large colony of very friendly prehistoric looking animals!

Iguana - Cayo Macho / Cayo Iguana island - Cuba

The shallow waters around the island make for interesting discoveries.

Cayo Macho / Cayo Iguana island - Cuba

To get back to Trinidad, rather cool taxis await 😊

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.

Guayanara park, Escambray - Cuba

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

El Rocio waterfall, Guayanara park, Escambray - Cuba

… and superb, irresistible natural swimming pools.

Guayanara park, Escambray - Cuba

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

Cienfuegos - Cuba

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

Cienfuegos - Cuba

… and some scenes seem to come straight out of a 1950s movie set.

Street scene in Cienfuegos - Cuba

The central plaza is the focal point of the animation…

Cienfuegos main square - Cuba

… but that’s still very relative – overall Cienfuegos remains a rather sleepy town,

Cienfuegos - Cuba

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

American 50s car in Cienfuegos - Cuba

Everything seems to move a bit more slowly there.

Traffic control had to adjust to the local realities…

Street scene in Cienfuegos - Cuba

… and horse carriages are not just for tourists.

Street scene in Cienfuegos - Cuba

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

Street scene in Cienfuegos - Cuba

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.

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

Street scene in Cienfuegos - Cuba

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

Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

… and the “steam” train which runs through it looks like a toy.

Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

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 …

Plantation in the Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

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

Plantation in the Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

Their mansions enabled them to maintain their fancy lifestyles.

Plantation house in the Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

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

Iznaga tower - Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

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

Iznaga tower - Valley de los Ingenios - Cuba

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

… and more cigars are sold than sugar!

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

Hasta la victoria Siempre - Cuba

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:

Stay tuned, more to come!
Didier.