Cuando en Cuba

 

We left off at our most Cuba experience ever, having cigars and rum in the gallery of a local artist.  From there we developed our slogan for the trip "cuando en Cuba," embracing each authentic opportunity that materialized throughout our journey. 

We booked a taxi collectivos through Hotel Raquel, which allowed us to affordably travel the four hours east toward the center of Cuba, with another traveler. A young girl from Dallas traveling solo for her birthday. We used the time to nap, but also to learn how this girl was navigating her way through Cuba, which happened to be very similar to us. We'd run into her a number of times in Trinidad, our second stop on the trip. 

Stepping into our casa particular, dubbed El Conquistador, set the tone for our beach-town stay. The lush plants and colorful murals inside the seemingly typical stucco building enchanted us. We were greeted by a beautiful family, including a husband and wife, their young son and very sweet grandma with a sassy streak! 

Trinidad is a World Heritage site renowned for it's preservation of Cuba's old world charm. It's described as the most colorful city in Cuba and I couldn't agree more.  

Our first mission was to hit the beach! Trinidad is said to have one of the country's most beautiful beaches. We were able to watch the sunset and float in the warm waves, soaking up the contrast between this haven and the busy streets of Havana. 

The next day we fueled up on what we'd learned to be a typical Cuban breakfast; bread, ham, cheese, fruit, fruit juice and coffee. Eating on our beautiful terrace and preparing for our Trinidad activity, horseback riding through the dense sugar cane fields. Leslie and I participated in the tour at the hand of our rugged tour guide. He escorted us through the town, up the mountains and deep into the woods.

Along the way we stopped at a sugar cane cafe, where we watched the extraction of sugar cane nectar from the plant and drank it up in a tall glass.  It was delicious and helped energize us for the seven hours we spent on horseback. Moving past the sugar cane cafe, we entered the mountains and within them the hut of a coffee and tobacco farmer. He sang a song as he ground his freshly roasted beans. Then steeped the coffee directly into our china cups, paired with a homemade cigar. 

It was a long, but gorgeous day that our minds, cameras and bottoms could never forget. 

That night, after a $3 spaghetti dinner in town, Milly and I found a sweet rooftop bar. Hostal el Rintintin, where the music is lively and the pina coladas are potent. We made friends with a girl from Austin and eventually with the musicians, after Milly was invited to join their performance on stage. The bar closed and together we found ourselves at Cuba's hottest club, Disco Ayala. Literally and figuratively as this club is hidden inside a cave! A combination of electronic and Cuban beats pumped us up into the wee hours of the morning. 

The next day we had an early ride back to Havana, this time in the hip neighborhood of Vedado. 

TravelLyndsay Cavanagh