In a brand new Hyundai Santa Fe, an unexpected sight on the Cuban roads, we wind our way through Sierra Del Escambray, stopping to take in the views back over the valley and of course, enjoy Cuban coffee at a ‘coffee museum’, until we reach Parque El Nicho.
Crossing dry streams and rivers, we walk up to one of many waterfalls, where we enjoy the refreshing swim in the enchanting waterhole.
Avoiding the new arrival of tourists, we skip the park’s restaurant, instead opting for a local meal further down the road, in what feels to be the ladies backyard.
After a week in Cuba struggling to converse with the locals, we were grateful to have hired an english speaking local guide to answer our questions on Cuban life.
As our local guide entertained us with Mother-in-law jokes, our plates were filled with pork, fresh tomatoes, dried banana’s, a delicious african root vegetable topped with a garlic jew and accompanied by the must-have, rice and beans.
With the sun high in the sky, sweat drips from you as you walk dirt roads from the tranquil seaside village of La Boca into Trinidad. Soon the dirt becomes concrete and the small tin ‘kiosks’ lining the streets change to colourful homes. Continuing up hill the ground beneath our feet turns to cobblestone and those colourful homes are now tourist shops selling handicrafts, and more usually, ‘Havana Club’ t-shirts and ‘Che Guavera’ military caps.
Small pop up tourist markets take over side streets, and squares are filled with musicians where Mojitos increase from 0.9 to 3cuc.
In the mid-afternoon thick grey clouds cover the sun and along with the locals, a few streets from the touristic Historic Centre, shelter is found in a butchers doorway beneath hanging meat, listening to the crack of thunder as we wait out the lighting and rain.
Passing horse draw carts in our 80’s Peugeot taxi we roll into town. Below the surrounding mountains, concrete homes are painted hues of pink, blue and green, stand in contrast beside the banana leaf, tobacco drying barns.
As a jeep passes screaming a loud tune to advertise the ice-cream on board, we step inside our ‘casa’. The interior is as colourful as the outside, with lime green coating the walls from the white ceiling to the concrete floors, broken only by the shutters.
Outside, kids play in the street with their goat and women chat from their balconies.
Thoughts of Havana.
Against a backdrop of colourful, but crumbling buildings, manged dogs wander to the soundtrack of live jazz music, through kids playing soccer in the street and past men arguing over their game of dominoes.
Buildings gracefully decorate the curved Malécon, free of signage and any form of advertising leaving only classic cars to interrupting the scene with spitting black smoke.
As the sun sets, locals and tourists alike perch on the retaining wall to enjoy the beautiful views and the cool ocean breeze as smiling buskers approach the tourists, offering one song for one c.u.p.