Our host in Habana arranged a colectivo, a private car shared with other travelers which takes you door to door. We were picked up at our respective casas particulares and were on our way to Trinidad.
Halfway through the five-hour trip, our driver stopped at a farm to buy gas from his friend. He said it cost half of what he’d pay at the pump, but it was illegal. He asked the Italian tourist in the backseat not to take pictures while he poured the gas in from the 20-liter jerry cans!
Trinidad is known for its unaltered colonial character, due much in part to being a UNESCO city. And it really brings in the tourists!
On the second day we picked up some beers and took a taxi to Playa Ancón. It was unlike Mexican beaches. We were happy that there were no vendors and that the entire beach landscape was undeveloped, except for one small hotel! But only tourists were there. Where were the locals? If this were Mexico…
The hosts of our casa particular, Yubislay and her brother Ernesto, were so nice. We had our own terrace with a lovely view, where Yubislay served us a huge breakfast each morning. But nights were tough. The house next door had a sociable rooster, and he crowed to his friends on the next block all night long. In the mornings, his shift ended and the neighbors took over.
A lovely way to wake up! On our third day, our hosts helped us arrange a horse-riding trip. The guide, who said his name was “Pitbull”, showed up at the house with the horses! The three of us rode to Parque Cubano and back for a nearly six-hour trip! We even got to a bouncy canter! Edd practiced his English riding style, though it didn’t impress his horse, Gaviota. She kept trying to knock him off! The outing was fun as soon as we embraced being treated like casual tourists. For example, the agencies advertise a visit to a coffee plantation, but what you see is the guides’ buddy giving a sales pitch for his coffee. The waterfall in the park was so crowded that there was no place to change in privacy, so I’m sure we mooned a few people. We did have a nice talk with Pitbull. He explained how he’d been trying to get his head in a new cowboy hat for months. Mulas (mules) bring them in from Mexico every so often, but the sizes were always too big for him. He said mules often let you pick items (usually clothing) out of catalogs. He was glad to have cowboy boots; most of the other guides wore rubber wellies.
That night we went to La Casa de Música, where large audiences gather nightly on the outdoors steps to dance to live salsa bands. It was the cheapest thing in town to do, and it was pretty fun.
Trinidad was beautiful, and we’re happy we saw Cuban beaches and rode horses! But in our extremely brief time in Cuba, we wanted to get back to an experience that was so different to any we’ve ever had: Havana.