Cuba – Trinidad

Trinidad is very different now from its heyday during the height of sugar cane production in the surrounding valleys. It is now a UNESCO site and much of its building stock is being restored albeit slowly and there are museums on archaeology, colonial architecture and history. An architectural historian’s experience of visiting Trinidad.
I wandered the streets seeing how life is lived today and imagining what it might have been like 200 years ago.
It is hard to imagine such times, where now the main industry is tourism, most locals are employed in the servicing of the tourist industry or making and selling trinkets on the streets to the passing crowds.
It is a vibrant town, colourful and busy with musicians playing everywhere, in restaurants and cafes as well as on the street. Salsa is danced every night on the steps of the church, life is lived on the street where people congregate to watch passers-by and to catch the breeze.

Cuban band
The band Grupo Ensueño in a restaurant playing for us whilst we ate delicious pizza.
street musicians
A man teaches his son to play guitar on the steps of the church just before sunset.
watching
He sits outside watching, she stays inside and pops out to check on him every now and then. He sits  there only in the afternoons after the sun has moved around.
Trinidad
A typically colourful street scene in Trinidad, most houses are painted in bright colours, it looks vibrant and bold not at all cute.
horse-drawn carriage
Horse-drawn carts are a common sight, hooves clanking on the cobbles and with a cloth canopy to provide a patch of shade.
iguana
Wandering the streets I came upon this iguana sitting on the edge of the road, I was cajoled into taking its portrait along with its owner. I was stupidly nervous of the creature, it’s skin looked unpleasantly both papery and greasy.
Trinidad
The shady side of the street painted blue by the flowing water.

Children play everywhere in the streets, happy and safe, motorised traffic is banned from the centre of the old town so the streets become a playground.

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This little boy and his friend were trying to fly a kite between the steps outside the church and the large cobbled square. I watched them, full of energy as only small boys can be, running up and down the steps trying to get the makeshift kite to fly, never disheartened by their lack of success. Several passers-by walked straight into the thin pale kite-strings, not seeing them in the bright sunlight and got tangled up.
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The little dancer, oblivious to any audience, twirled and posed in a world of her own.

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street-scene
The two girls are forcing the younger boy to play wheel-barrow, the cobbles must have been painful under his hands.
trinidad
Later they switched to carry him between them, each holding a leg, the poor boy nearly doing the splits.

I stayed in a Casa Particular  “Casa Carlos Sotolongo” on Plaza Major – the Cuban version of a bed and breakfast house. In Trinidad, these are often grand houses full of antique furniture, china and glassware imported by the Spanish plantation owners in the 19th Century. They usually only have one or two bedrooms for hire and modern bathrooms have been added.The hosts are very happy to cook for their guests, breakfast is included but they can provide lunch and dinner as well.

casa particular
A room in the historical museum set up as it would have been in times gone by, the Casa Particular I stayed in was similar though less grand.
Maria's
Lunch at Maria’s Casa, barbecued pork steaks with an array of side dishes, including pounded plantain, the slices are flattened with a mallet and then fried. We also had yucca – a little like steamed potato but with much more flavour – with fresh home-made pork scratchings – delicious. We had dinner there one night too which was a banquet with lobster, beef in a rich sauce, white fish fried lightly in butter and so many side dishes we thought we would burst. Then the compulsory ice-cream and cigars for those who partake.

Hostal Maria and Enddy, 407 Calle José Martí, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.
Email enddymar[at]yahoo.es. Look them up on Tripadvisor

 

trinidad
From the Historical Museum tower you can look out over the town, the streets curving round the hill, towards the Valle de los Ingenios, the valley of the sugar plantations.

Plaza Mayor from the tower.
Plaza Mayor from the tower.
trinidad
A grand house on the corner of Plaza Major, two stories and with a balcony and intact original painted floral ornament! Most houses in Trinidad are single storey, the grander houses are two storeys and very occasionally they have three.
sunset
Sunset at the Plaza Mayor
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Catching the last rays streaming out from behind a perfect cloud beyond the Plaza Mayor
salsa
The best salsa dancer in the Palenque de Los Congos Reales, always laughing.

6 thoughts on “Cuba – Trinidad

    1. Thanks James! You are too kind. You should go to Cuba if you get the chance, a place of huge contrasts, so much to see, admire, fear, regret, love and enjoy. I guess that sounds a bit over the top but why not?!

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