WE HEAD FURTHER SOUTH TO OUR LAST DESTINATION, TRINIDAD.
21.05.2017 - 24.05.2017
DAY 105 SUNDAY 21ST MAY
CIENFUEGOS TO TRINIDAD
Our last breakfast on the back patio, it was a little windy today and the water was choppy. Still a great way to start the day and we finished packing our bags after breakfast.
A blue car arrived just before 11am and there again was the initial panic that we had in Havana worried that the luggage would not fit in the boot. Again, after a little manipulation and lots of pushing and shoving the driver did manage to get the 5 big bags in the back. Hugs farewell to our hosts and we piled into the big blue Chevvy (see am getting better at car identification) with the remainder of our luggage jammed between our legs.
Our drive to Trinidad today was only 80km and took just under 1.5 hours and costs 50cuc for the 5 of us. We were on back roads today, not the main highway, with the second half of the journey hugging the coast which gave us periodically glimpses of the sea and a few beaches along the way. Entering Trinidad, we were immediately taken back to Antigua in Guatemala, with the coloured houses and cobbled streets. But here is a little rougher and not as well restored as Antigua, but still a nice feel immediately.
Our Hostel de Tayaba is probably the oldest casa we have stayed in. We have a couple of small rooms in the back of a big old house full of old niknaks @ 35cuc per night. Our host Iris was there to meet us with her 2-month-old baby. She spoke good English and took our passports to register us and then explained a few tours that were available. The meals on offer at this casa are the most expensive we have been offered so we decided to look around to see what the food outside was like. L, D & I did however say we would take the 5 cuc breakfast in the morning as it is always the same and pretty good value.
It was another hot sunny day and as we exited the casa for a look around it was suggested we find a place to have a cold beer. Unfortunately, the places closest to our casa only sold Crystal beer, which we decided is yuk so we continued to walk until we found a place that sold the much-preferred Presidente beer (from Guatemala). It was a nice bar and we had not asked the price of the beers so got a little shock when we went to pay the bill and found they were 2.50 each! Most expensive we have paid in Cuba. But, it was very hot, the beer was cold and we did desperately want a drink so we justified the price but vowed never to go there again!
A little refreshed we continued our walk around the town. This is a touristy place, so lots of shops and stalls selling tourist junk and good stuff. And we discovered there were lots of restaurants offering meals cheaper than our casa so we will probably be eating out rather than in. We looked at a couple of places to have lunch then came to the Plaza Major Restaurant that was offering an all you can eat buffet. We had not seen this anywhere in Cuba so decided to go inside and have a look. The food looked ok, and the price was only 10.50 cuc per person. The sight of roast pork, potatoes and ice cream was enough to win us all over, and then we were advised the price included a beer and yes, they had Presidente!
For the next hour or so we all pretty much sat stuffing ourselves with pork, potatoes, chicken and ice cream – it was almost like heaven.
After our huge middle of the day meal we needed to rest. It was still so hot and we managed the short walk back to our rooms and all passed out for a few hours. Not used to eating so much in the middle of the day.
Around 6.30pm we stirred again, the blue sky had turned to a dark cloudy threatening rain colour. We headed out in search of a supermarket to get some rum supplies (mixer). On the way, we found a bar (hole in the wall) offering cocktails for 1 cuc each. Pina coladas all round for us girls. Must admit the drinks were very light on the rum, but the icy mixer part was yummy. From what I could see when I watched the barman it was a mixture of condensed milk and pineapple juice, lots of ice and water, and a quick wave of the rum bottle over the top. Like I said not real strong on the rum, but nice enough that we had a second one on the way back.
We found the supermarket but it was closed and the one next to it did not sell cola, so will try tomorrow. We saw a guy selling pulled pork rolls on the street for 1 cuc, which we will keep in mind for another day, as we had some pork that Lyn stole from the lunch buffet to have for a dinner picnic. We just needed to find the guy with the white sack selling bread rolls door to door. Luckily enough we managed to run into him on our way back to the square and we purchased 2 rolls from him for 25c each. Dinner sorted.
Our plans to have a picnic on the church steps was kyboshed when the temperature dropped and the sky turned black. Best to head back to our casa and have our picnic there so we can dash inside when it starts to rain. We made it to about 5 minutes before finishing when the rain started. It wasn’t very hard and we managed to scramble under the roof overhang to finish dinner. So no going out to party for us tonight, not in the rain.
Our shower was cold, it does have a heater attached but did not seem to work. Been a while since we had a cold shower, but it was not too bad as the air was still pretty hot.
Hope the weather clears for tomorrow as the plan is to go to the beach.
DAY 106 MONDAY 22ND MAY
TRINIDAD – PLAYA ANCON
Woke up to a brilliant blue sky so looks like our plans to go to the beach will be safe. L, D & I had breakfast on the terrace at the casa. Same, same breakfast is getting a bit monotonous now! Although the fruit is still delicious, the strong coffee I can almost live without. Stale bread and deep fried eggs are all that is still on offer and frankly I’m only eating it because there is nothing else on offer. The fresh juice is still ok, today was tamarind, a flavour we have not yet been offered, and it was quite nice.
Shawn has decided to give the beach a miss and stay behind and read his book, so it’s just us ladies off to the seaside. We walk down to the main street outside the old quarter of Trinidad and its only seconds before we are asked for a taxi. Yes, please. Wait here I get my taxi. No worries. We were advised by our casa host that the fare is 2cuc per person each way to the beach and the driver does not request any more.
Playa Ancon is only 12km away so it’s a short drive and thank goodness as we are squashed into a modern car – by modern I mean a Russian born Lada sedan.
At least the beach is not disappointing, with white sand and clear waters. Must admit it’s not as pristine as the first one we went to near Vinales but this is still nice. After we commandeer a palm leaf shelter to stash out belongings, L, D & I head straight to the water while Toni lazed in the shade watching out stuff, preferring not to enter the water.
The sea temperature is warm enough to get straight in, yet cool enough to be refreshing. There was a slight ripple as we lol in the salty water. After little while Dolly claims one of the sunbeds that dot the beach, there does not seem to be anyone collecting money for the use of these and there are many that are not being used. Lyn, Toni & I take a long walk up the beach, beyond the flash Hotel Ancon where the sand stays white but the weed in the water grows thicker. A local on the beach tries to sell Lyn a giant shell, which he quickly snatches off her and hides in the sand when it looks like someone official is coming up the beach. He is also hiding a bag of lobsters that he has caught. I’m not sure if this surrounding area is a marine park where perhaps he was not supposed to be taking anything from the water, but he sure looks cagey. He is gone by the time we return to this part of the beach – yep definitely dodgy.
Playa Ancon is a huge sand spit peninsula and beyond the flash hotels there seems to be nothing so we just walk for another 20 minutes and then turn back and walk back to where Dolly is waiting for us laid out on the sunbed like the queen of Sheba!
Another swim to cool off after our walk, Toni again passes on going in the water. Then Lyn & I procure a couple of beds too, as no one has come to Dolly requesting payment. It’s hot and I can only lay in the sun for 15 minutes before again needing a swim.
It’s just after 2pm now and we don’t want to push our luck with trying to get a taxi to return to Trinidad, there is one waiting so we decide to hear back into town. Again, a short ride back and the few hours on the beach have totally exhausted us. L, D & I stop at a café for a sandwich and some chips and Toni returns to take Shawn for some lunch. After we had eaten we return to our room for a shower and then we all crash – this short excursion and the heat has taken it out of us. At about 4ish we met in the courtyard of our casa and had a few farewell drinks. Dolly & I managed to polish of ½ bottle of rum – well done!
It’s our last night together with the Lemons so we agreed to meet up for dinner. They head off back to Havana tomorrow morning for their early flight to Mexico and home the next day. The bar across the road was the plan, Lemons had been there for lunch and recommended it, but so had the latest Lonely Bastard (you could tell by the book carrying tourists waiting outside) and the place was packed. We then just about did a lap of the town looking for a dinner alternative. The place we settled for still had a 15-minute wait but the salad bar that came with the meals which were 7-8 cuc seemed like a bargain. It was the ice cream that sealed the deal, only for there to be none left by the time we finished our meal. While in line I got chatting with a couple from Namibia (white) – interesting first Namibians I have met outside of Namibia. They were impressed that I’d been to their country. And, stood chatting with two English sisters who I invited to share our table for dinner. Dolly was in heaven as usual when meeting fellow countrymen/women and it was nice for them to have others to chat with. The food was good, but I was disappointed when the ice cream ran dry. Only 2 containers per seating was the response when I complained. Ah well, this is Cuba, you soon learn to live with food restrictions.
It was after 10pm when we returned to our room, a late night for us.
DAY 107 TUESDAY 23RD MAY
Anther perfect blue sky dawned, we were up early to see the Lemons off in their collective taxi. I don’t envy them in that little car all the way to Havana, but it must be done and they will be fine.
We hugged and then waved them goodbye as the little car took them down the cobbled stone road – and then there was 3 again!
We had no plans for today, so had a leisurely breakfast before heading out in the heat to explore some more of Trinidad. I am surprised we lasted out on the streets as long as we did as it was very hot out there again today. As luck would have it we stumbled across the Cadeca money change place, which we needed but were not really looking for. We purchased from the Lemons their extra Canadian currency as we have used up all of ours and still have a couple of days in Cuba where we obviously need cash. We had a street ice cream on the way and when Lyn suggested we stop at the bar across from our casa for a cold beer that the Lemons had recommended our radar zoned in on the right direction and we were soon waiting in line for a table. Yes, this place is always crowded with everyone having to wait for a table, and yes it was worth the wait. The beer was cold and served in cold pottery cups and the meals were reasonably priced. Dolly & I had a pizza and Lyn had a vegie salad with pork which she managed to scoff down before I had a chance to take a photo. With a couple of beers each this come to just over 21 cuc which is good.
After lunch, we retired to our casa across the road and we all crashed. It’s just too hot to go outside so an afternoon nap was just what was needed obviously as we all had a little sleep.
We had a date to meet with Jac & Trish across the road for dinner at 7pm, so there was still time this afternoon for Dolly and I to polish of ½ a bottle of rum to get the ball rolling. Lyn had a beer.
I went and stood in line at about 6.30 and it was around 7 when we were seated, the English ladies did not show until 7.30 but that was ok, we had a table big enough for them. The food at was good, I had a serrano ham tapa for 5 cuc which was a bargain. Dolly went for a soup, and Lyn did a repeat on the pork vegie salad. We all had a cold beer served in the pottery cups. There was a guitarist and singer to entertain us and just after our food was served the 2 ladies showed up. They got a little lost finding the place again. They ordered food which came quick and we had another beer, outstaying everyone else at the surrounding tables.
After dinner we went for a little walk into the centre just to get a bit of exercise after eating then meandered back to our room. It was about 11pm when we hit the sack with was very late for us.
DAY 108 WEDNESDAY 24TH MAY
It was a lazy day today. Plan was to go to the beach again, but after the downpour of rain I heard last night and the cloudy sky that we woke up to we decided against it.
When travelling for so long it’s nice to have a luxury of having a very lazy day, doing nothing and not feeling guilty.
We trundled up the steps to the terrace around 11am to have breakfast, which did not seem to be a problem.
We forced ourselves to go out to find some cola to drink with the remaining rum later and sus out the transport for our next destination.
Returning to our casa we had lunch of left over pizza from lunch yesterday and we finished off the last half of the bottle of rum.
Our last night in Trinidad and we were back at Taberna La Botija across the road for dinner. Jac and Trish met us there for their last dinner in Trinidad also. This place has served us the best food (maybe it’s the best because it has been different from the usual food on offer in Cuba) we have had all trip. Although I will go so far as to say the best food as the serrano ham dish was magnificent (mainly because it contained serrano ham which I thought I would have to wait until we got to Spain to enjoy).
We had a pleasant evening, bidding the English ladies goodbye and promising (threatening) to visit them next time we were in their neighbourhood. Jac lives in Aspen, Colorado, USA and Trish lives in Sidcup, Kent, England.
Before heading back to our room I walked down the road to see Iris our host and ordered a car for tomorrow, to take us to Santa Clara our last stop in Cuba.