Wednesday 15 February 2012

Cess on the Beach

And so to Trinidad, our final stop in Cuba. It was a picturesque little country town which heightened the common feeling in this country of being in another era: the cobbled streets were full of shoe shine men, horses and carts and bici-taxis. The buildings were painted in bright pastels: peach, salmon, lemon, mint and sky blue, and it was an amazing place to photograph at sunset.

This won’t be a long post, because we didn’t do much there, thanks to a long curl of white sand with clear, calm water not far from town. Most days were about sunbathing, swimming, playing frisbee and drinking mojitos, and who wants to read about that?! Here’s a few piccies to prove I’m not lying though…

We ventured offshore to Cayo Blanco, a small uninhabited island an hour away by catamaran, with resident iguanas, who incredibly, loved being stroked. There were hermit crabs aplenty rolling around the restaurant, and the snorkelling was awesome: a little bit like being in Finding Nemo, with zebra-striped puffer fish, schools of bright yellow tropical fish, and an incredible variety of coral.

But we're also conscious we have to conquer the Inca trail in April, so in a (probably vain) attempt to keep our fitness up we headed into the nearby mountains, the Topes de Collantes. We'd run into Jersi and Silvia, Polish and Slovakian respectively, who had been in our salsa and Spanish classes in Havana, and with them we hiked to a freezing waterfall which I braved for all of 10 seconds, and through some pretty gorgeous forest.

What really made Trinidad though, was our casa particular. We'd met a young guy called Javier in a restaurant in Havana as we were both waiting for tables, and found out his mum, Milagros, had a casa in Trinidad. We ran into him again as he was forcing her to get drunk with him at a Havana brewery (see earlier photos) - really good sorts.

The experience of staying with them in Trinidad was second-to-none: we drank Cuba Libres together as Milagros cooked amazing seafood; talked politics with Javier and his grandfather, who’d been in the police under Batista; Dan danced salsa with Mila every morning in the kitchen, she became our Spanish teacher, painted my nails, and they even invited us out for dinner with them one Saturday night.

It was much more than a bed and breakfast. Through them - and all the other casas we stayed in - we learnt more than I could have hoped for about what it means to be Cuban. It is a complex, vivacious, utterly compelling country. There's no doubt we'll be back. 

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