We continued our way towards Trinidad, passing by Cienfuegos.
Compared to Havana Cienfuegos is a really calm and neat city. The sun was shining and we thought about a boat tour or something similar to see the harbor. I think that´s something that every port city in Europe or anywhere else offers. In Cienfuegos there was just: nothing.
There were a few sailing clubs depicted in our guidebook, somewhere more south of the city. So we decided to go for a walk and have a look. It turned out to be a rather long walk along the promenade but still nice. At the sailing club we found a bar (priorities, priorities…). And a lot of boats of course, but no one to offer a ride. We also tried to find somebody to take us back to the harbor on his private boat, but were not successful. A bit disappointed we took a rickshaw for the way back to our car. We felt a bit sorry for the driver because of the heat, but he seemed to be quite lucky to have customers.
View from the promenade:
Back at the car we realized that the trunk lid was actually open the whole day. Lucky us, we had parked the car in a parking lot with someone to look after. Nevertheless, it is not a good thing to have an all-day-open car on a round trip with all your stuff stored inside. So we tried to find a branch of our car rental company in Cienfuegos, and were lucky. After some trials to repair the lid, we were told to visit the branch in Trinidad the next day. We were quite skeptical about the possibilities to repair a car in Trinidad, but had no other chance.
For a while I stayed at the car.
After about 5 minutes of sitting at the car a woman came over to have a chat with me. When she realized I could understand her Spanish there was no way back. She tried to convince me that it´s absolutely impossible to buy normal clothes and stuff like writing material in Cuba. Regarding that topic I have kind of a strange feeling. It´s like every guidebook tells you to take old clothes and pens with you, and people over there are exactly asking for these things. That makes me feel like they do not really ask for things they need but instead think I brought them anyway, so why not ask for it. Still I didn´t want to judge, so after a 20 minutes talk (me trying to speak about different topics, quite limited by vocabulary) I gave her two shirts.
Because of the trouble in Cienfuegos, we arrived in Trinidad quite late and postponed the car repair. Our guidebook had some suggestions for casas that sounded just perfect, so we tried to get a room in one of them and were lucky. The casa lead by Julio Muñoz is located in a very impressive colonial mansion. He has two dogs and a horse in his backyard, which I only believed after seeing it myself. Later Julio told me that it´s actually not always the same horse, but he changes between his horses (the others are staying on pasture). He also founded a project to teach the locals how to care properly for their horses (http://diana.trinidadphoto.com/).
Through the window:
Living room, opposite angle:
The next day we managed to change our car. The new car was actually a real improvement: A Suzuki Jimney 4×4 instead of a Peugeot 206. So we had an easy day and visited the city. If I look back and summarize the whole trip, Trinidad is my favourite of all the Cuban cities. A pittoresque colonial city, not too overcrowded even if a lot of tourists were there and a very relaxed atmosphere. In addition we found some decent restaurants (vegetarian noodle dish included!).
Stairs to the rooftop (Casa Muñoz):
View from the rooftop:
Greyhound (some weird Sanssouci parallel):
Julio organizes horse back riding trips as well. The area of Trinidad is wonderful for such an occasion. Alas there was a very talkative, annoying Canadian with us but at a certain point he realized that we were not too pleased by his behaviour.
Say ´Hello´to my new friend:
Because Trinidad and the surrounding area seemed to be a good place to stay, we went for another trip. This time to Topes de Collantes, a little health resort in the hills, where – accoding to our guidebook – you should have the possibility to go for a hike. Hiking is nothing that is too popular in Cuba and this kind of tourism is widely unknown. Most of the nature reserves oblige you to do all trips accompanied by a guide, proper trails are something really rare. We decided to do a trip to a little cave and had to pay 4$ each to get there (accompanied by a cute old wrinkly man that gave us two hiking sticks he picked up from the forests floor it would habe been 10$).
The cave itself wasn´t the most spectacular I´ve ever seen, but it was one of the rare occasions during these vacations were we were really alone and in nature. The biggest part of Cuban countryside is cleared woodland used for agriculture. So you can find the original landscape only in some small parts in the hills like around Topes de Collantes.
Impresionado de la naturaleza:
The other kind of a school bus:
Me, trying to do a nice picture of the cave:
On our way back it started to rain and suddendly everything smelled like I remembered it from my time in Ecuador. A really nice memory…
If you ask yourself what made Topes de Collantes a health resort, the answer is quite simple. It´s a place where a big hotel (one of these prefabricated buildings) was built as a spa hotel. I wonder if anybody ever is spending the night in this hotel, but it´s still open.
To get back to Trinidad before dusk we had to hurry (remember the bad condition of the streets…). But we couldn´t resist to stop another time to enjoy the wonderful view and sunset.
We´re in middle earth:
And Sauron is watching us:
Next time: Camagüey – our new Cuban family