13 April 2016


The advantage of having your own driver is twofold - he will stop wherever you ask him to, and he knows lots of interesting and nice places to visit. 
The first place he recommended was Casa de Bernabe, an ordinary house in an ordinary street, but the guy who lives there has an extraordinary amount of hummingbirds visiting his garden. He has fed and nurtured them for most of his adult life.

We saw lots of beautiful tiny hummingbirds plus lots of other kinds of birds too. He was a lovely old man and is very well known, as we were leaving a coach load of tourists were on their way in.

The Bay of Pigs. Such a monumental time in history took place on these shores.

The centre of Cienfuegos is very pretty with pastel coloured neoclassical buildings. 
We stopped for lunch, browsed around a market and shopped for gifts.

Vinales to Trinidad is 540 kms. Manuel made it very interesting stopping at various places on the way 
and it didn't feel like a 7 hour journey. Trinidad is on the south coast of Cuba.
In 1511 Diego Velázquez left for Cuba with Hernán Cortés and in the next four years he founded the settlements of Baracoa, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba and Havana. After his conquests were completed in about 1514, he became governor of Cuba and encouraged colonization. Trinidad was the third of his original seven settlements. The town's prosperity stemmed from sugar plantations and African slaves.

Casa Ileana, the blue one on the left, home for the next 3 nights, run by Ileana and her husband.

 Entrance was through their home to the courtyard at the back 
where there were 3 rooms, each with en-suite bathroom, air con, a comfy bed and immaculately clean.

Our first day in Trinidad was very hot and unbearably humid. The morning had started with a thunderstorm which we hoped would clear the humidity, if anything it made it worse so sightseeing involved a lot of walking in shade and regular stops at coffee bars.

The colonial houses are typified by red terracotta tiled roofs above wooden beams. Walls are usually pastel coloured. Large main doors tend to open directly onto a large living area. 

Windows of Trinidad
There are no glass windows, they are open to the elements allowing air to circulate, but have wrought iron grilles and wooden shutters for evening and bad weather. I didn't really want to stand outside peoples homes taking photographs of their windows so I bought this card and scanned it to show you how nice some of them are.

The old town clusters around the Plaza Mayor, a pretty square of painted railings, fancy urns, greyhound statues and colonial buildings. Even the cobblestone streets still remain in the old centre, which is good for restricting traffic, but not so good for bicycles and horses, and sometimes walking as well. 
There’s been a preservation order on Trinidad since the 1950s.

Market stalls selling delicate local hand made lace and embroidery like the beautiful tablecloths and runners these ladies were making. 

Restored mansions of the wealthy have been turned into museums and art galleries. There are many talented artists in Trinidad. 

Craft shops and restaurants occupy many other lovely old buildings. 
Yes that is a bed in the middle of a restaurant, a beautiful bed, for show only, not for a quick nap after a good meal!

Sunbathing lizard at one of the places we stopped at for lunch and Pina Coladas. He wasn't on the menu!!

About 12 kms outside of Trinidad is the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills). The three valleys, San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer, were the centre for sugar production from the late 18th century until the late 19th century. At the peak of the industry there were over fifty sugar cane mills in operation with over 30,000 slaves working in the mills and on the sugar cane plantations that surrounded them. Towers were built to watch the slaves. Some sugar is still grown here but nowadays the valley is more famous for its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Santeria is a fusion of religions that grew out of the slave trade in Cuba. Derived from the Yoruba people in Nigeria and developed by African slaves it allowed them to disguise their faith from their hostile masters. 
An orisha is a god or saint that reflects one of the manifestations of the Supreme God, and each orisha has a specific colour attached to it. Worshippers wear the colour of their chosen saint, either in clothing or beads. Red and white for Chango, the powerful god of war, blue and white for Yemaya, the goddess of the sea, and all white for initiation rights "to become sainted". 
This enabled them to recognise and worship with fellow believers without their masters knowing. 
Photography of some faiths is not allowed, and this is usually one of those, but this young couple did say we could take photos.

One man and his dog, at least I think it was his dog. Not many dogs are owned in Cuba and we saw a lot of stray ones, most looked quite healthy, a few not so healthy and one that brought tears to my eyes, it had open sores on its back, if I had had the means I would have put it to sleep. 

The ones on the far left belonged to one of the sugar plantations we visited.
Given the amount of strays there are the streets were immaculately clean.

Our last afternoon in Trinidad was spent at the beach at Playa Ancon. I like lounging on a beach for a few hours, after that I get restless. It was nice to wind down after lots of sightseeing and walking though.


The road out of Trinidad was strewn with crab carcasses. This is one of the better photos, some parts of the road were just a crust of blood and shells. The crabs cross the road into the bushes on the other side looking for food. It must be darn good food to risk getting crushed like this. 
Any sympathy I had for them soon evaporated when a few miles down the road Manuel was flagged down, we had a flat tyre. When he took it off we could clearly see a crab claw had gone right into it!

Up next: Hemingway  


  1. What an amazing adventure, you certainly took us on a lovely tour.

  2. Wow Polly, beautiful photos again and a stunning and fascinating account of what must have been a fabulous holiday!

    1. Thank you Sarah, it was, it had all the ingredients for my kind of perfect holiday.

  3. Love to read all about the holiday, so interesting and beautiful photos.


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