Part 2: Cienfuegos and Trinidad
Sunset at the bus stop near the Malecon in Cienfuegos, Cuba
The bus to Cienfuegos was unremarkable. There was a stop which was called "The Pina Colada Rest Area." The bus guide had announced this in four languages and it was filled with trinkets of all sorts. It was 10AM but Pina Coladas were still encouraged. The bus started rolling again, and we noticed a very big hiking boot dangling precariously over the guide's head. At each bump, the boot took on the motions of a bobble head and we were concerned for the safety of the guide. About five minutes before arriving in Cienfuegos, the boot was no longer visible. We named the anonymous owner of the boot the "Assholo with the Asolo."
Long Exposure with a ND filter at sunset, Malecon, Cienfuegos
We were greeted at the bus stop with a man holding a sign with our names on it. This was a for the first for us. Big Cheese. Odie from Habana had called ahead to reserve a room for us in Wilfredo's Casa. We packed our bags into his Lada and he took us his house. After signing in, he showed us our room which looked comfortable, but not overly large. There was a beautiful garden in the back and we spent some time there reading and planning. We took to the streets where we walked on a nice Prado down the center of town. Half price pizzas were consumed. There was also panini type sandwiches which we didn't eat because they may have been sitting there for days. The main shopping street funneled us into a Ritzy tourist section with big hotels and the inevitable Parque Jose Marti. Eventually we made it to the Malecon which is a walkway along the water. I watched the sunset while David took photos. Although Cienfuegos was 10x less polluted than Habana, there was a purple haze on the horizon at sunset. While walking back to the Prado a sweet looking barker asked us if wanted to eat in a second floor restaurant. After reviewing the menu, we decided to eat there. We had a great meal and listened to live Saxophone music. I ate Ropa Vieja and David had Spaghetti with sauce very similar to the one on all the Pizzas in Cuba. We got out of there for less than ten dollars and still had leftovers. Turns out this was the only proper restaurant we ate at during our entire journey.
City hall in the Plaza de Armas Cienfuegos in HDR, Cuba
The next day we arranged a lunch at Wilfredo's place. After that we hit the streets and basically wandered around town aimlessly because there wasn't a whole lot to see. The star attraction listed in the Lonely Planet was Teatro Terry. We went into a plain-jane lobby and upon entering the theater itself were not overly impressed. It was only slightly larger than the theater in Watkins Glen only without the charm of having wooden floors.
Wilfredo's wife prepared a great lunch. They gave us so much food we couldn't finish and pocketed a couple chicken legs. In the late afternoon we took a short taxi ($2) ride to Punta Gorda which is an extension of Cinefuegos on a narrow peninsula. Towards sunset David took some more interesting pictures. We walked through the majority of Punta Gorda. We took a bus back to town, which after some basic arithmetic we discovered that the fare cost 8/10 of one cent USD. Amazing difference.
HDR sunset in Punta Gorda on the Malecon in Cienfuegos
In the morning on the Prado on we scored a big bag of fresh baked filo-dough pastries. Some were frosted and all were tasty. Then we packed up, said our goodbyes and took a $1 horse and buggy ride to the bus station. The suspension was poor and the jolts were many but it was fun nonetheless. These horses have circular routes and mostly Cubans use them. We got on the bus and rolled to Trinidad. That was Cienfuegos. Not exactly a thrill but more low key in many respects compared to La Habana.
The bus arrived in Trinidad, and we were again greeted with a paper sign with our names on it. Bigger Cheese. After battling though a wall of touts we found Jesus. Not in the biblical sense, but our host guided us to his nearby Casa. In the Casa of Jesus Fernandez a giant mango tree grew out of the courtyard four stories high. David was pleasantly surprised that the second story room had windows allowing natural light and a breeze, compared to some of the "lightless dungeons" he had stayed at on previous trips. A third floor terrace offered excellent views of the city below and the mountains above. Trinidad is touted as the most well preserved colonial city in Cuba, but we thought it was a one trick pony and its trick was fresh paint. To be fair, it was very well maintained compared to Habana and had a colonial charm. All of the streets were paved with cobblestone and due to my rolly polly ankle, I tried to walk on the narrow sidewalks and it worked out better that way.
Art vendor in the Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus Province
The Church of the Holy Trinity in Trinidad
The Plaza Mayor at Sunset in HDR, Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus Province
Sunrise on the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco Church in Trinidad (HDR)
Around sunset we walked to the Parque Cespedes where we sat in line to use the Internet. After checking our email, we returned to our neighborhood and found a multi-tiered bar restaurant. There was a very lively band and we ate our dinner there. The place started to fill up with street dogs and nightlife tourists, so we took that as our cue and retraced our steps to a good nights sleep at Jesus's.
Nighttime in the Parque Cespedes, Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus Province, Cuba
The next morning we set out to find the main attraction in Trinidad the Museo Historico. Sad to say, we ran into a "Cerrado". We wandered a bit around the cobble and returned to a homemade lunch on our terrace cooked by Jesus. It was a real deal meal, with shrimp, beans, rice, a vegetable salad and fruit. Muy Bueno.
After lunch we ran into the Oscar the Coconut vendor. He was a toothless wizened old fellow cutting coconuts open for the water and the flesh. He was the friendliest man we met in Trinidad and it was fun to talk to him. I think I had a conversation in Spanish, but he just have been nice. He smiled alot and nodded. He pulled out a giant plastic bag full of post cards and photos that travelers had sent to him from all over the world. We didn't get his address but we figure if we sent a post card with "Coconut Oscar, Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus Province, Cuba" he would probably get it. David took photos of sunset in the Plaza Mayor. As a summary, we agreed Trinidad was a little sleepy but very pretty.
Stay tuned for part 3 from Playa Giron.