November 14, 2013
Today was our visit to Trinidad, a town that apparently was the highlight of the trip for many. I feel like we failed at seeing the town properly. Husband was ill again and stayed behind. The rest of us went and wandered the town, but we had no agenda or plan or even map and so just wandered around buying things. Trinidad is famous for its weaving. We thought we had less time than we really did, so we aborted a mission to climb a tower, and just sort of hung around. Another of Trinidad’s claims to fame is its stone streets (not cobblestone, stone), which are definitely a throwback.
|Most of the things Bunny and Crow bought were hats.|
Other people made reservations for dinner and music and such in town, but it didn’t even occur to us. What with our late night scramble to find flights home and the fact that we were staying in a resort, the idea of taking a taxi back into town to have dinner seemed hard. So we aimed for the beach instead. It took forever to eat lunch and change and check the stupid internet for a flight confirmation and rent goddamn beach towels and finally get to the beach.
|On the bizarre side, we found this scary effigy in our room. |
Hotel cleaning is an art form in Cuba.
Crow and I went swimming. Bunny got about knee-deep before bailing on the coldish water and sharp sand, and Husband wouldn’t budge from his chaise. The sun set early and we went to the hot tub. It was moderately warm--much more so than the ocean!--but did not have any kind of view and so we missed the sunset again. I would have liked to see it.
After the hot tub we ate the mediocre buffet dinner and played a variant of big chess that I came up with. It’s team chess, with no strategizing. The players take turns and they are absolutely not allowed to talk to each other about their plans. It makes you wish for telepathy. It’s also a little stressful, because I for one made some huge mistakes and felt really guilty. But Crow and I won in the end. In the end we had only our two rooks and a couple of pawns, and they had nothing but pawns, and then we queened up one of our pawns and killed everyone. All in all it was a relaxing day, which was much needed.
November 15, 2013
The next day was back on the bus. We drove to an empty intersection with nothing around but cows, which was where the Soviet Army trucks were supposed to meet us. They were late, and in the end we all had to crowd into one because our two didn't show.
|Coffee, with army trucks in the background.|
We went to a coffee plantation where we saw the true Arabica plant—Cuba is apparently one of the only places where it hasn’t mutated. Andre, the coffee farmer, is amazing and I want to take him home with me. We drank coffee and then drove up farther into the mountains where we had lunch and finally met the jincila, my favorite of all the cocktails we tried.
|Andre in his natural habitat. He's promised to write a book.|
Then we went on a hike with Andre and he told us how to cure everything with plants from the jungle. Which of course we forgot immediately. There are these cute little plants that curl up when you touch them, which I found endlessly entertaining. Then we had lunch, and we also were lunch for the tiniest little mosquitos ever [spoiler: it's three weeks later and I still have the bites]. Lunch was roasted pig that we saw being roasted.
The ride on the army trucks was the highlight of the day for me. The roads we went up were ridiculously rutted and muddy and steep and it was like an amusement park ride.
After that we were late getting back to Havana, which meant that we had to rush to make the Buena Vista Social Club show that we’d booked. We bailed on dinner having barely gotten our entrees. When we got there, late, they immediately brought us a round of mediocre mojitos, and then another. The music was exactly what you’d expect, not really my thing, but fun, and with more variety than the music we'd heard everywhere. There are only six songs in Cuba (or so goes my theory): "Guantanamera," "Oye Como Va," another whose name we never knew, "My Way," "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas," and one rotating selection by the Beatles.