Day 20: Back to Trinidad

Sun. 2nd September 2012

Havana streetWith (only!) 5 days left in Cuba it was time to decide how best to spend them. We had wanted to see Santiago de Cuba but it was previously agreed with Freddie our cycling guide the only way would be to fly and we did not fancy that option. This also meant we would not get to Guantanamo Bay, but I am not sure how close we would get or how much of this land occupied by the US we would be able to see.

Another option was Varadero on the northern coast east of Havana. This is where the “all inclusive” resorts are and after Cancun we were not keen – we want to see Cuba. Part of the journey could have been by the Electric Hershey train, built by the chocolate family of that name in 1917, which would have been interesting and the guide book says very scenic if slow and unreliable.

In the end we opt to return to Trinidad as there is still lots to see that we did not have time for first time around. One thing that swayed the decision was the chance to go on a steam train through the sugar plantations.

Trinidad streetAfter the hubbub of the city it is back to quiet country lanes full of horse drawn carts, cyclists and a few tractors. A coach driver’s nightmare as they go so slow and not always easy to overtake. You even need your wits about you on the “motorways” – more like dual carriageways, as hitchhikers stand in the fast lane hoping for a ride. There are also a few horse drawn carts and even buses doing u turns across the central reservation!

It was the usual sidestepping the locals advertising accommodation when we got off the bus. People with backpacks are often easy targets for taxi drivers too. After many “no gracias” we found the backstreet where our casa is located. The network of casas is excellent, Isobel in Havana rang ahead to book one for us and provided us with a little card with map and details. We needed the card as Carlos, the owner had gone to the bus station to meet the Viazul bus but as we had pre booked a transfer coach at Cubanacan we were dropped off at the other end of town!

Front door of casaThe card of the casa also showed photos which helped confirm we were in the right place as the front is a tired looking door in a brick wall, which is not appealing and we would have not given it a second glance. However once though the front door the casa  is exquisite. After passing through a room of comfy chairs and rocking chairs there are double doors which open into a courtyard.

Sitting area inside casaOur room is off to the left and the kitchen straight ahead. Cubans, especially farmers often have their kitchens outside their house to keep the smell and muddy footprints away from the living area. From the courtyard is also a flight of outdoor steps leading to a roof terrace with shelter from the sun and maybe keep us dry if the rumbling thunder and grey clouds turn to rain. A second flight of steps leads onto the roof and a second sun terrace.

Casa courtyardWhilst walking around town we bumped into Paul and his partner, who dived with Dave in Marie La Gorda and took some underwater pictures. Dave was really relieved as he had missed him before we left MLG and hadn’t exchanged email addresses. Hopefully, we will now provide can get copies of Paul’s photos.

Sadly, trips to two travel offices confirmed the Sugar Valley steam train is broken so it is a coach rather than train to the sugar cane plantation tomorrow.

We decided to eat that night in our casa as this is by far the best value (and usually best quality) meals. Our supper was served on the rooftop terrace watching the sun go down over Trinidad. As usual the casa produced a plentiful meal of fish, with the usual rice and kidney beans, avocado and green beans but we did get to fight over the yummy thin deep fried chips – a treat!

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