Trinidad, Cuba is our destination today. Omelio, the owner of Casa Mercy Hostal in Santa Clara has arranged a taxi to take us there. An 85 km journey for $50USD, and fortunately not down the National Highway. It takes about two hours as we are on narrower roads with lots of traffic, two wheeled, four wheeled and four hooved.
Just outside Trinidad, we stop at a tourist attraction at Manana Iznaga, an old plantation where there were slaves. There is a tower we climb up, for $50 pesos each (65 cents Can) to see the view of the surrounding countryside. It is a beautiful vista. (I read, once we are home, that the tower was built in 1750 to watch over and control the slaves that were working in the sugar cane fields.) Because this stop is on the tourist path, there are many vendors and they are quite pushy (in my view). I get followed more than a few times even though I say “No gracias”. I finally make a beeline to the taxi, get in and ignore the woman who has followed me to the car. Sigh.
We are dropped off at Dona Ramonita’s and the door is answered by Pablo who takes us inside. The hostal is an old colonial house, with a narrow frontage and a warren of rooms and a garden in the middle. We meet Ramonita, who must be over 90, who is all smiles and is so happy we are there. She reminds me of my dear Aunt Patra, who lived in Athens. We pick the green room over the pink room, both on the edge of a huge garden. The garden contains lemon, papaya, mango, and banana trees. I think I like it here.
We organize slightly and go out to scout around. Except I leave the map and my mask on the bed. We wander around anyway and get lost. I feel so bad not having my mask on as it is mandated to wear a mask inside and outside and even though we see tourists without masks, we want to follow the rules. After stopping for a quick pizza lunch and asking directions, we make it back to the hostal. We study the map, locate my mask, lay down and promptly fall asleep for 20 minutes. Guess we needed a nap.
On our second try we walk to the historic center of Trinidad. It is cobblestones with roundish rocks set into various mediums to make roads. They are hard to walk on and I watch my footing while I am moving. The place is quite empty with only a few other tourists wandering around and some local “entrepreneurs” – money changers, trinket sellers, taxi drivers. They seem to take a “No gracias” much better here. We wander the streets locating restaurants and work our way back to the area near our hostal and end up at a BBQ Bar where we order supper.
Tomorrow we will wander more of Trinidad and see what makes this town tick.