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CUBA – TRAVEL REPORT day 9-10-11: Trinidad

I’ll never forget Trinidad – if only because I can still hear a beep in my ear from Las Cuevas.

You can read my previous travel reports about Cuba here: Havana, Vinales and Cienfuegos.

Ever since I met her, my German travel companion Kathrin had been talking about Trindad. Kathrin had been to Cuba before, and she absolutely loves the colonial town (and Cuba, in general, but especially Trinidad).

Still, I had also heard stories about the “picture perfect” town being very touristic. Actually, that was one of the main reasons I also wanted to visit Sancti Spiritus, another town that was supposed to be “like Trinidad, but without the tourists”. And after my experience in Vinales, I was afraid I wouldn’t like Trinidad at all.

Spoiler alert: I did.

COLORS AND COBBLESTONES

Oh, pretty Trinidad. Yes, there are a lot of tourists. But, different from Vinales, there’s also a lot of Cuban street life going on here, especially if you move away from the Plaza Mayor. And yes, the town is as beautiful as they say. Some would say it’s like an open-air museum (you can choose whether you think that’s a good or a bad thing), but all have to agree there’s a nice, relaxed atmosphere on the streets. Another plus: the town is so small that it’s quite easy to walk around – everything is nearby.

As I told you, Kathrin, Jono and I took a taxi collectivo from Cienfuegos to Trinidad. Once we’d dropped our heavy backpacks at our casa’s, we went for some food – it was 3 PM and I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, not even after my run in the morning. Kathrin remembered a nice place and I had one of the better meals that I ate in Cuba.

And, of course, a mojito.

After lunch, we met Jason and Ismay at the Viazul bus station and walked back to our casa’s. We agreed to meet each other about an hour later, at Plaza Mayor.

By then, it was already becoming dark – and I have to say, Trinidad by night is a really nice place. Music on the streets everywhere and from many restaurants/bars, cocktails-to-go from street shops and just a very relaxed vibe.

(Yes, I do realize it were mainly tourists enjoying all this, but they were not the loud and annoying kind of tourists – and hey, of course we were tourists as well.)  The five of us decided to go to the same place where Kathrin, Jono and I ate a few hours earlier. I wasn’t very hungry, but the mojito’s were good and while we were eating, a live band started to play salsa music.

Kathrin knew a few of the band members from her last visit to Trinidad, so she decided to catch up with them later that night. But first, we tried to find a bottle of rum. The stores were already closed and the rum at the street shops was 15 (!) CUC, but after a bit of asking around I sneaked into the casa de la musica, one of the main spots next to Plaza Mayor where you can dance salsa, and bought a bottle from that bar for 9 CUC. That’s still more expensive than it would have been at the ‘supermarket’ (for lack of a better word, because there are no western-style supermarkets in Cuba), but still a lot cheaper than drinking mojito’s in a bar.

TOUCHING ISMAY’S CHIN

Because my casa had a rooftop terrace ánd a fridge full of soft drinks, we all went here to have some drinks mixed with rum. Me, Jono, Ismay and Jason played a really intense game of King’s Cup, that we didn’t even finish, because there were just TOO MANY RULES. At one point, everybody was one another’s drinking mate, and every time before you could drink you’d have to do a push-up ánd touch Ismay’s chin, while she also was the ‘snake eyes’ so you couldn’t look her in the eyes and… I don’t remember what else, but it was weird.

And the bottle of rum was gone way too soon.

DANCING IN A CAVE

No, we didn’t fall asleep after the game. Instead, we decided to go out, because you know, in the end it WAS a Friday night.

Actually, Jason remembered someone telling him about ‘the cave’, some sort of club that was supposed to be very cool. We asked around and got the right directions – apparently, this place (also called Disco Ayala, or Las Cuevas) was also marked in my MAPS.ME-app.

By the way, if you’re going to Cuba in the near future: definitely download this offline maps app! It has saved me so many times – it doesn’t only have properly-working offline gps maps of the whole island, those maps also include a lot of restaurants, casa’s and other places (like bus stations and famous buildings).

LONG STORY SHORT: WE DANCED TILL 3 AM

…because that was when the club closed, I could have danced some more. I’m really sorry I didn’t take any pictures inside Las Cuevas, because wow, that was cool. Disco Ayala appeared to be an underground club inside a real cave. Entrance fee is 5 CUC and for that money you also get a free drink. One thing: bring your earplugs. I didn’t, and the next day my ears hurt quite badly.

But oh, how good it felt to dance for hours and not caring about anything else. I felt 19 again. ;)

The next day was pretty lazy, as you can probably imagine. After breakfast, we decided to walk to one of the WiFi squares. I waited for about 1,5 hours in a queue to get a few new WiFi cards (in Cuba, you have to buy cards with a code to use the WiFi – they’re about 2 CUC each, for one hour), chatted with some friends on WhatsApp and met another cool traveler, Stephanie from California. Together with her and the Australian guys – Jono and Jason – I had a really good pizza for lunch.

Because I’m really, really not used to going out anymore (I think the last time I danced the night away back home is about a year ago), I was quite tired by the end of the afternoon, so I took a nap before I met the others again for dinner.

THIS WAS THE MOMENT I GOT A LITTLE SAD

Saturday night, January 28th. At this point I’d been away from home for 10 days. And up to this moment, I hadn’t really missed home. I mean, of course I missed cuddling with Tom and talking to my friends, but I was having such a good time in Cuba that I didn’t think about it that much. Until now.

I think it was a combination of being tired, feeling lonely and the fact I’d talked to friends for about half an hour earlier that day. Suddenly I was like who are these people and what am I doing here? 

Luckily, I did feel a bit better after a plate of pasta and a mojito (yes, I know..). Tonight, we were quite a big group; next to Ismay, Jono and Jason, there were two German guys that Kathrin had met earlier that day. Jonas and Johannes were good company and it was, as always, nice to meet new people and hear about their traveling adventures.

ON THE ROOFTOP, AGAIN

Another night, another bottle of rum… Only this time I skipped the drinks, because I felt what my body and mind both actually needed, was some rest. So around 1 AM, when the others were going out again, I went to bed, hoping to feel better after a good night of sleep…

…but I didn’t, mainly because of drunk roommates. Oh well, guess that’s part of traveling too, sometimes. In fact, even this was quite an interesting moment, because a) I suddenly felt very old (let’s be honest, five years go I probably was the drunk roommate), b) it made me remember to always stay on my own path and follow my intuition, even if that’s not the ‘coolest’ way to go and c) the situation gave me the possibility to practice patience and forgiveness.

Enough said. The next morning me, Kathrin and the two German guys had agreed to go Playa Ancon, a beach 20-30 minutes from Trinidad. We took a taxi collectivo there for 2 CUC each and spent all day in the sun – swimming in the bright blue sea and sleeping in the sand.

It was exactly what I needed at this point.

Later that day, Jason and Ismay joined us, too. And at night… well, do I sound too much like a party animal if I tell you we went out again?

In fact, I didn’t plan to (really!). Actually, I already changed to my pyjamas, when Ismay suddenly said: “..but Suus, it’s your last night in Trinidad!”

She was right. The next morning I’d travel to Sancti Spiritus, actually the main reason I didn’t want to go out – I hate traveling while hungover. But then again, leaving Trinidad also meant leaving all my travel companions. I’d most likely never see any of them again after tonight (except maybe for Ismay, who lives in Amsterdam).  And that club-in-a-cave wás a really cool place…

SO YEAH, THEY PERSUADED ME

And we ordered a lot of mojito’s.
And we danced a lot.
And I felt young and immortal.
And I wished I could stay on that dancefloor forever.

And the next day my ears hurt even more. (Yes, I forgot about those stupid ear plugs again – from now on I won’t ever again, promise ;))

At 4 AM, I hugged and kissed everyone goodbye.
I thanked them with all my heart for the AMAZING week.
Sometimes you have to be a little drunk to find the right words. ;)
(And I still feel very thankful – guys, if any of you are reading this… you’re amazing, I love you all.)
(Yes, I do realize I’m acting a bit sentimental now.)

You know, sometimes you have those nights of going out that you regret going afterwards. For this night, that was definitely not the case. I’m happy I went. It’s good to remember what it feels like to be 20, again – even if you wake up the next day feeling all fuzzy and you have to carry your 16 kg backpack and think about grown-up stuff like ‘where is my passport’.

So yeah, the price I paid (apart from my painful ears) was the fact I didn’t really do a lot of interesting stuff in Sancti Spiritus – but more on that later.

LA DURA, LA DURA

Trinidad, I like you. Although I didn’t really do any cultural stuff (apparently you can get a really nice view over the city at a certain spot, I sort-of regret I didn’t go there), I had a great time. Trinidad is an amazing place to just walk and look around, enjoy street life and have fun with people you meet. I can imagine why Kathrin chose to stay here for almost two weeks.

I want to end this post with one of the songs you hear A LOT in Cuba these days. Cubans are totally crazy about reggaeton (in fact, salsa is mainly for tourists), and this Cuban artist called Jacob Forever produced a few decent summer hits. According to Tom, it’s actually pretty bad, but every time I hear this, I get that Cuba-feeling again. So: enjoy!

Speaking about music: what about that beep in my ear? Well, I think it’s sort of silenced now – it might have had something to do with the cold I got, too. Or least I hope so. As much as I liked the town – I don’t really need a permanent souvenir from Trinidad.

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