Trinidad is a touristy city on Cuba’s south coast.
Narrow, cobblestone streets, centuries-old Spanish colonial architecture, and a first-rate beach draw visitors from all over (though not too many Americans…yet). So yeah, you’ll see more tourists than locals in some places, but if you’re in the mood for good restaurants, lively music, rich history, and some fun-in-the-sun, then Trinidad is the bulls-eye on your Cuba dart board.
I came here, because it’s where my guide Hanna (who I know from salsa dancing in Minneapolis) takes her tourists. Her group this time was small–just me and her two adolescent boys, who are blessed with an adventurous mother.
For this first week in Cuba, Hanna would guide her three boys (her two sons + me) on adventures in and around Trinidad. For Week 2, I’d have to take off the Cuba-traveling training wheels, hop into a classic car taxi by myself, and head back to Havana for a week getting to know the heart of this country so close to America, yet so far away.
But first was Week 1 in Trinidad, and this began with a morning trek with Hanna and her boys…
When in a new city, one just wants to gain a feel for it–at least I sure do. After a bread, cheese, eggs, fruit, coffee breakfast at our guest house (which I’ll write about later), we hit the streets of Trinidad.
You’ll be seeing many classic cars throughout my stories. They are so common as to become ordinary–and this speaks to somethings extraordinary: the sudden impact of the 1962 US embargo, the fact that they don’t make cars like they used to, and the power of culture to maintain these classics as part of Cuban identity.
They just need a little TLC every now and again.
Streets in Trinidad feature street mechanics.
Streets here also come with street bands
Can’t let a good salsa go to waste.
Continuing with Cuban culture, we popped into a museum nearby–just one of many in this city.
Finally, Trinidad’s most famous attraction:
Plaza Mayor dates back to the founding of Trinidad over 500 years ago.
From the Wikipedia article:
The Plaza Mayor of Trinidad is a plaza and an open-air museum of Spanish Colonial architecture. Only a few square blocks in size, the historic plaza area has cobblestone streets, houses in pastel colors with wrought-iron grilles, and colonial-era edifices such as the Santísima Trinidad Cathedral and Convento de San Francisco.
On and around these Plaza steps above is where one can access the internet.
Internet in Cuba: Cuba is stingy with access to the world wide web. There are some hard line connections in privileged businesses and government organizations. But for 99% of the people, the internet is accessed only in these public wifi hotspots. (There is no internet over cell phone service–though that is said to be changing this year.) Courtesy of the government-run communications monopoly, individuals need a wifi card (like long-distance calling cards) at a rate equivalent of $1/hour. This is expensive for most Cubans, but some pay it to enjoy Facebook, email, and other basic online services.
Something I learned researching this: Buying a computer was legalized in Cuba in 2008.
When not online, we saw another common activity young people do across the country.
And this takes us back to where we started, for it was here I took this photo:
Check out footage of the ballers:
After dusk, we returned to the steps of Plaza Mayor. We weren’t the only ones.
Internet isn’t the only attraction here. At the top of the steps, a stage and small theater saw performers in front of packed audiences every night.
Enjoy some footage of the music of this city.
And that, my friends, is a day on the streets of Trinidad.
My guide Hanna takes regular tours to Cuba. In fact, she’s taking one later this winter. See her Event Page to learn more. Next time, I’ll show you the less-touristy side of Trinidad, the “real” Trinidad some might say.