We booked an Airbnb with Alejandro and Maritza, and they've got a nice place. Somehow they've got a wifi access point on their house (they got the tower in Mexico) and their son has a video gaming set up on the roof. You still have to pay for a card to access the internet, and your communications are very likely monitored, so I wasn't even tempted to break my no cell service streak. They also have a great rooftop - they encouraged us to hang out up there and make ourselves at home. Great views on the city once the rains cleared.
They have a couple dogs - they were great.
Time to get out and about in Trinidad. It's the jewel of Cuba's colonial cities and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Streets have a colonial name and a new name.
This is the plaza of three crosses, where the Easter procession ends. The crosses on the houses are stops along the way.
Sergio and I had packed some goodies for kids to hand out during the week, but we hadn't seen too many. It was time to get to handing them out in Trinidad. We had gum and stickers. One of the kids would ask us daily if we had caramelos. Sorry, kid.
Trinidad is more touristy than the other cities we visited, so lots of restaurant options and lots of people outside of them with menus, trying to get you to come in. We settled on one of the many options with a rooftop terrace. The food was okay, but the view was lovely, and the music was fun.
Lots of artist shops around the city too.
Everyone in Cuba has these same chairs.
When we got home, Ale was still up. He offered us some delicious ceviche that he made. He brought it up to the roof for us. It was excellent. He chatted with us for a bit. He's a physical education teacher and his wife is a librarian. For a few years, the economy was so bad and they couldn't find work in their fields. He was able to go to work in Mexico doing wood treatment work. He has residency there, but the work became too physically tough, and he injured his back. He came back to Cuba and they do Airbnb as their main source of income. They have two sons and Maritza's mother lives with them. He does construction projects on their house, and you can tell they've put some good work into making their house nice.
On Thursday morning, Ale made us breakfast. More of the usual - fruit and eggs, but very plentiful. We ate outside on the patio.
After breakfast, Ale walked us over to a friend's place where we could rent bicycles. It's just out of a guy's house, per the norm in Cuba. They were good bikes and it was $6 for the whole day. According to our Cuban visa, Americans aren't supposed to just go to the beach all day, and we're supposed to maintain a full-time schedule of educational activities, but we were entitled to one day, right? There's a really great beach near Trinidad, maybe 15km away, so we started out before the day got too hot. July heat is tough.
We were back on the road around 3pm. Brutal, brutal heat. I thought I was going to die. There was lots of stopping for drinks of water, but when the water is really warm, it's not so refreshing. This was hard.
We finally made it back and returned our bikes. Ale made us frozen mango juices when we got home, and that hit the spot so much. Why don't I make those for myself in the summer? I really should. I took a cold shower and tried to nap during the rainstorms. Ale made us more food - some little fried corn things for a snack. Then we ventured out for the evening. I'd seen a ceramic shop that morning, so we popped in. I loved everything and wanted to buy it all! I eventually purchased 5 pieces. Love all the color!
We were supposed to leave Trinidad on Friday morning and head up to Santa Clara for a day, where we'd catch our flight back to Miami. But we loved Trinidad so much! And Ale and his family. We asked if they had room for us to stay another night, and they did. I was so glad. Trinidad is great. And we didn't even make it to the National Park that's nearby for hiking and waterfalls. Next trip!
Friday morning Ale made us breakfast again and we chatted about life in Cuba. He told us stories of growing his hair long to be a rebel, sneaking out his short wave radio to listen to American rock 'n roll, and how it took him many years to get his degree as a PE teacher. He basically had to qualify with proficiency in many major sports. He also likes to sit outside on the porch in the evenings and listen to Deepak Chopra.
One thing I loved about Cuba is that everyone lives their lives out in the open. It seems strange when I think about it, since I'm used to closed doors and driving in my car everywhere, but Cubans sit outside, walk everywhere, share stories with neighbors, and everyone knows each other. I kinda miss that.
We stopped by the Santeria temple and talked with the priest there - he's the head priest for the region. Santeros wear white and have a mix of African mythology and Catholicism. It's an interesting religion.
We walked a little more and then found a place to beat the rain and get a full meal. It was in an older colonial building on their back patio - decent food and lots of it for cheap. Fish, beans, and rice.
Adios, Trinidad. Off to Santa Clara....