CUBA: Sun,Sea & Salsa,Trinidad…
Trinidad was built a deliberate labyrinth in an attempt to outsmart the pirates centuries back. A plan which we discovered was undoubtedly effective after finding ourselves back at the main square three times without successfully reaching our casa particular. We wondered the cobbled pavements in a wild goose chase, as each street looked increasingly familiar but seemed to lead to the same place. Lucky for us we were strolling through a maze of aesthetically glorious streets lined with one-story marshmallow-pastel coloured houses. An overhead canopy of low hanging telephone wires, sliced through the sky leaving cool blue wedges framing the ageing tiled roofs. The vintage cars that Cuba is so famous for sat lazily outside the houses, their unique characters breathing life to the already vibrant Cuban streets. A musical quintet sat on old garden chairs at the side of the road, filling the air with the sweet strumming of guitars and the rhythmic clacking of percussion. As we passed they cheered and increased the volume of their playing, thrilled to be entertaining an audience.
Now it’s apparent why everything moves slowly, very slowly, to the extent that it often feels like nothing’s moving at all. Locals sat on old wooden rocking chairs outside their houses, they occasionally strolled to the ration shop, sometimes even played a little music but nothing was done in a hurry.
Cuba is a strange place where postcard perfect sceneries juxtapose the stifled spirit of the local people, where a cleaner’s salary matches that of a doctor’s in an ironic attempt to create liberation. The heyday of the revolution is a mere speck in the distance while a longing for more opportunities leaves a nation’s ambitious youth frustrated and unsatisfied. There’s a feeling of agitation in the air but the people find release in the forms of music and dance and the best place to experience this is by the main square on the steps half way up to the nightclub Casa de la Musica. We drank cheap mojitos under the stars and watched the locals work the dance floor to a live band. When midnight struck, we climbed the remaining steps up to the club, which was open until the early hours. Under the cloak of the buildings darkness and with the additional inebriation of several more mojitos we were feeling a little bolder and risked a few salsa moves ourselves on the dance floor. Hours later we were danced out and ready to fall in a coma, the only problem was finding our way home…
By day we stretched out on miles of white sand, swam in crystal blue waters and took boat trips to remote islands. The beaches framed by swaying palm trees, were a clichéd picture of paradise but you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Due to the inaccessibility of everyday items, you may find locals approaching you asking for pens, soap, chewing gum etc. If you’ve got space in your luggage, you could really make some one’s day by handing out a couple of biros or a bar of soap.
This town for me reigned over all others in Cuba. The combination of the well-preserved colonial town steeped in history, the serenity of the quiet cobbled streets and the stunning white sandy beaches makes it the ideal holiday destination. It’s also an eye-opening experience if you have never visited a country under the rule of a communist party. It may give you a new perception on life as we know it and if you spend some time getting to know the locals, you’ll certainly come home with an education.