There are dogs in Cuba. Street dogs, not many but a few feral animals that scrounge food from the few scrapes that are about. And they are very strange looking dogs. Small, short legs, and long bodies. It looks like all the dogs in the country descended from two. Some people have pet dogs, but not many, as there are some different breeds hanging out in the windows of houses and some out for their daily constitutional. I’ve only seen a few cats. I suspect they are kept as mousers and are house cats. The pet of choice is a bird. There are cages hanging outside of residences which is a dead give away that they are pets but the oddest thing is people take the birds for a walk. Cage and all of course. I have noted a few people sitting in the park with a caged bird on the bench beside them. I find it strange but then again I have never owned a bird and really have never considered that one shouldn’t be taken for a walk.
Sunday, we leave Santa Clara and head for Trinidad. Every article on the net describes Trinidad as a must-see place. First impression is blah! It is fairly well kept with the exterior of a lot of the buildings maintained. From that perspective it is nicer than Santa Clara. Our first tour of town reveals a fairly slow place. Santa Clara is a much more vibrant city.
The farms are surrounded by a living fence. The barbed wire is held in place by the branches of trees. These branches must be placed in the ground green because foliage is sprouting from the tops of the posts. If they continue to grow there will be quite a barrier in 20 years.
We arrive at noon and figure we should look for lunch. We stop at the first restaurant we come to and are reading the menu when a worker comes to the entrance to ask us in. We ask about the pizza and she quotes a price twice what was written on the board behind her. She just lost our business and we did not even look at the place again. Tourists should not all be treated as stupid.
The infrastructure is not in as good shape as Santa Clara. There are holes in the sidewalk, as in most Latin American countries, and there are wires hanging down here and there.
The plazas, or squares, have no shade. We found this odd. In most cities the main square is a happin’ place but with no shade and the sun beating down no one seems too interested in gathering there. We gravitate to those plazas when we need to rest. They are great place to watch the world and that is a lost opportunity here.
As we trapse through the ‘old town’ what we find is a tourist trap. The place is OK but there are touts, beggars and expensive restaurants at every corner. Several times were are asked outright for money. They offer no product or service.
One thing that is very good about Trinidad is the people on the street are use to gringos and a good number of them greet us with hola or buenos dias. Santa Clara is much more metropolitan, maybe, and much less of a tourist destination so people are more city like and unlikely to acknowledge your presence.
There are no front yards as we know then in North America. The front door of all the residences open onto the sidewalk which is immediately adjacent to the road. In order to get ventilation, the door and the front windows, which are glassless and screenless, are left open. It is easy to see into peoples’ abodes and they are quite nice, very livable. Not as ‘modern’ as we would have in Canada but well kept and presentable. The quality diminishes as we pass through the ‘hood’ but still clean and acceptable.
Everybody sells something here. Open up your window on the street, put a few items in view and you are a retailer. The buyer stands on the sidewalk and asks for what they want and the transaction takes place through the wrought iron grill. Most of the stores also work this way. One can enter and wander in stores that sell larger items, furniture, scooters and in super markets. The ‘tourist area’ has more traditional type stores, I presume because it is more familiar to the foreigners.
As mentioned before the windows do not have any glass or screens this is good for ventilation but might not be so good for security. I don’t know the exact purpose but every door and window has a grille over it. I think it may be so people on the street cannot have easy access to the house interiors. Cuba doesn’t appear to have a particularly bad crime problem so the grilles exist to keep the honest, honest and tradition dictates.
I don’t think the country is a poor as we are meant to believe. There are some inconveniences like not everything is available all the time, but things must show up every now and then because people have modern washers, computers, newer cars, electric scooters, flat screen TV’s and just about any other thing the first world has. Not having constant access to these items means people are fantastic at repair and reuse. Something the rest of the world could learn from the Cubans.