Day 7: Cienfuegos - Trinidad
This morning we leave Cienfuegos for Trinidad. Along the way, we stop for a visit to Cuba’s largest Botanical Park. Dating back to 1899, the gardens feature collections of palms, orchids, bamboo, and myriad other lovely Caribbean flora spread over almost 250 acres. After leaving the Botanical Gardens, we’ll visit the small town across from them, Soledad, and learn about life in a small rural community. Upon our arrival in Trinidad, we meet with some basket makers at a government sponsored workshop. This will be an excellent opportunity to see the contrast with the free enterprise sites and private entrepreneurs we'll visit during our program. Next, we visit a ceramics studio that has been run by the Santander family for a century. We can take a spin at the pottery wheel as we learn about the secrets of working with clay that have been passed down through several generations of the same family. This evening we discover Cuba's relaxed restrictions on private enterprise during dinner at Trinidad Jazz Café, another of the many small family-run restaurants known as paladares that feature authentic home cooking in an intimate setting.
Meals included: B L D - Accomodations: Hotel La Ronda
Monday January 16
Early rise, pack up, suitcase outside the door, breakfast. Time to move on. Quick photos from the corner of the hotel.
Raul is ready to put our luggage into the bus.
From the bus window: the line waiting to be let in (one by one) to buy a one hour Internet card for 2 CUCs which may or may not give you access. We did that the first day when we saw that the line was shorter at one point. It gave us at least a quick look whether there was a message from the kids.
On the way to Trinidad we stopped at one point for a tour of Cuba's largest Botanical Garden. Our local guide was very knowledgable and it was very interesting.
This is a walking tree.
This is a Cuban Palm. These are the leaves the weavers use, which we visit later.
Baby Cuban palms.
This is the first time I have seen a Brazil Nut tree.
If you strain your eyes you can see the capsules (?) in the tree.
It takes 14 month after pollinating until the seeds (nuts) are ready. There is a "plug" which falls out and there might be 8 to 24 nuts. Fascinating. No wonder they are so expensive.
Ts ts. Forgot what this is.
Ha-ha, this hibiscus is a little larger than mine at home.
There was also a greenhouse we could go in.
And off we continued in the bus.
But not far we visited the small town Soledad, where there was once a profitable sugarmill. We visited the house of the former (rich) owner who is long gone, which once must have been a beautiful mansion. Our local guide used to be a secretary in the sugarmill and is now the mayor of the town. She is very active to have the house restored and preserved for posterity.
This guy was standing in the court yard waiting for us so he could tell us that he is the locomotive engineer in this photo and happily accepted a coin for the photo taking.
Remnants of the mill across the street from the mansion.
Pictures from the bus.
A roadside stop. Migdalia knows these people. They are trying to convert their house into a vegetarian restaurant. We got to try a lot of the fruit. Migdalia assured us it was safe. All delicious!
But the best was the honey comb. I have never tasted honey dripping from a comb sooooooo delicious. Migdalia was right on the first day. Cuban bees are special.
We were invited to look around.
In the back yard. Do you see what I see?
Arriving at the hotel in Trinidad.
The "light lunch" at the hotel (a government one) was perfectly ok for James and me but some fellow travelers were not so happy and also complained about the following breakfasts. Big deal.
Placing the french fry was my doing to make a butterfly (sorry).
After lunch and a little refreshing time the bus took us (not far) to the weavers. A government workshop to make woven baskets and hats (from the Cuban Palm leaves).
This lady was sorting and bundling the leaves into same sizes.
She braided the handles.
No wonde Migdalia wanted to bring lotion to them. I am sure their hands need it.
Only one lady can saw hats because only one machine is working. Did you read the itinerary in the beginning?
People were very friendly to us on our way back to the bus.
With the bus a short distance to the pottery.
We learn how the clay is prepared.
This is the owner of the ceramic studio who has learned from his father and I don't know how far back. He really is incredible at it. I know it's not as easy as he makes it look.
Yup, nobody else volunteered so James volunteered me.
VIDEO! (I liked it better before the old man put the handle on. Messing with my work, ts ts)
Back in the room. The room has no windows except these two into the courtyard and they have no glass. One night I actually opened one because we didn't like the A/C. It was like sleeping under the sky.
Yes, the Trinidad maid was the towel art queen.
The door to our room is right of the upper corner with the two windows to the right of it.
After a little rest it's off to dinner. Our hotel is very centrally located and we can walk around through interesting streets. We have to walk pretty much single file as a group. You have to really watch were you are stepping. The cobble stones can be treacherous for us not being used to it.
The restaurant was a bit different again. You had a choice for the main course which would be served but buffet for soup, salad and dessert.
VIDEO 1 !
VIDEO 2 !
Main course: lobster!
A lovely day!