I woke with a feeling of confusion this morning as I couldn’t remember anything about where I was other than that it was Cuba. This happens occasionally when I am travelling and can be a little disconcerting. I lay listening to the sounds outside, where people were talking and the bread sellers were calling their wares, and eventually realised it was Trinidad.
I hadn’t arranged a time for breakfast so strolled across the road to my old house and waited on the very windy balcony whilst the ladies prepared and brought me the fruit, coffee, bread, juice and tortilla, which is like a very flat omelette here. It was quite cold and I needed a cardigan. Mariana and Deb eventually joined me and we discussed what we could do today.
The original idea was to walk to the beach but with the wind being as it was, it did not seem quite so appealing. Cycling was considered very desirable by two of us but Mariana wasn’t keen so we settled on going to El Cubano National Park and walking to the waterfall. All of us were in real need of being on our own and in the country.
Monica was still adamantly against us walking all the way to the Park as she considered it too dangerous. Cubans, however, have a very different perception of danger as this is one of the safest countries I have visited. Consequently, she arranged a taxi for us. This turned out to be a very green 1952 Chevrolet with a driver named Damos.
El Cubano is about 8km from town, firstly along a main road and then a fairly rutted minor road. Monica had told the driver we would probably be back in 3 hours but it might be longer. This, later, appeared to have been lost in translation as he was quite annoyed when we weren’t back and wouldn’t let us stay to have a coffee at the restaurant. We had agreed a fixed price and, rather than go back to town, he had waited for us, which seems to be the standard procedure. However, we had paid the equivalent of nearly 1 month’s average Cuban salary so it didn’t seem unreasonable to us that he could wait a lettle longer.
The walk was very easy but we were still surprised to encounter several coach loads of German, English and Canadian tourists returning along the track. Luckily, the tour companies appeared to go early in the morning so by the time we arrived, there were relatively few people.
I walked ahead along a very dusty path through trees and following the stream. I was ready to go swimming by the time the others arrived, having chatted to a Panamanian girl for a while and got changed. She marketed dental products for Proctor and Gamble and it was from this encounter that I learned that there is a season for marketing dental products. Who would have thought?!
The water in the stream was freezing! A couple of people were jumping off a 9 metre ledge in to the water but I lowered myself genteelly, bit by bit, as is my custom. However, it was well worth the effort as I was able to swim behind the rock formations and into a cave with stalactites and bats. It was quite beautiful with the sun and reflections of the water on the rocks. Unfortunately, my camera isn’t a waterproof one so there were no pictures.
We sat around for a while after swimming, talking to a young Canadian couple and then reluctantly made our way back, conscious of the taxi driver waiting, and then it was back to the hustle and bustle of town, which seemed even noisier after the tranquility of the park.
I then visited the Historic Museum, which was a little disappointing as there was very little in it but it did have a tower, which you could climb up via some quite steep and narrow wooden steps. The view from the top was magnificent. I always enjoy looking down on to the rooftops below and seeing the courtyard gardens and patios that are hidden at street level.
Afterwards, I had a wander through the large handicraft market with identical goods on each stall and then headed to The Steps for a beer and some people watching. On the way, I was called over by a very tall, black Cuban chef with some spectacularly dodgy teeth, who was standing outside the restaurant with a couple of colleagues. He wanted to dance!! I can now cross street dancing off my list of ‘to do’ things and I am sure he will be a bit more cautious in future as to which stranger he invites to dance. I have come to the conclusion that there is a missing link between my brain and my feet when it comes to dancing and I am just going to have to accept that dancing is not going to be a feature in my life.
I sat and listened to the music and nursed a beer for a while (I am becoming expert at making a beer last a very long time) and then headed back to my room.
Later in the evening, I joined Deb and Mariana for dinner at a restaurant around the corner, which was exceedingly cheap but they had run out of a number of things. However, I had roast chicken which was meant to be Creole but they seem to have forgotten that bit and a pina colada, in which I got most of the froth and Mariana got most of the liquid. Having overheard my comment about the lack of rum though, the owner asked if I wanted more, so it was very alcoholic froth by the time he finished pouring!
All of us were tired after the day in the fresh air so there was no dancing for Deb and Mariana tonight and I decided it was too cold for another visit to The Steps. Consequently, it was an early night for all of us.