El Corazon de Cuba
|Towards Trinidad the road gets closer to the ocean. Generally the shore is a limestone platform sitting above the water. Occasionally there are inlets, which are more likely to have a sandy beaches. At the mouth of the Yaguanabo River is a nice motel. Besides its pleasant location and ambience, it has solar water heaters. Though Cuba tends to have various energy shortages, use of solar and other alternative energy sources is not wide spread. Few fixtures, few outlets, and compact florescent bulbs tend to be the most common example of energy conservation.|
|Roadside small private business (a fresh fruit and vegetable stand) and historical markers and monuments.|
sits up on the side of a hill, several kilometers from the ocean, and
beaches. It was founded 1514, by the brutal conquistador Diego
Velázquez de Cuéllar. It was the third town founded by the Spanish
Crown in Cuba. Velázquez had previously
founded Baracoa and Santiago de Cuba, and later founded Havana.
Its legacy of artisans, a new merchant class, and beautiful houses, with large doors and hardwood windows frames, and spacious courtyards, and paved streets, began developing in the early nineteenth century. It is a magnet for photography.
|Its current reputation rests on having been generally forgotten for a century. It is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time when the sugar trade was the main industry in the region. The old section of Trinidad intends to be quaint. It is trying to maintain its colonial character so the streets are cobblestone and the roofs are constructed with red tiles, though the skyline is marred by power poles and electric lines.|
|The architecture is simple, eclectics, vernacular. Nineteenth century and earlier buildings are one story and some twentieth century builds are two stories. Tall windows and doors face the street. The windows are often covered by wrought iron or wood grills, but few are particularly interesting by themselves. The doors can differ one from another, but few are particularly standouts.|
|A lot of what keeps the Trinidadian street face interesting is the subtle variation, and a large part of this is the selection of paint color. Perhaps there is a committee to insure that adjacent houses don't select the same color.|
|Without the rainbow of color, the streets are a little less eye-catching.|
|Old Trinidad is now dominated (and perhaps over-populated) most days by tourists. In response, most enterprise is oriented toward itinerants. There are lots of small hostel-type hotels and rental rooms, a number of music clubs, assorted paladars (private restaurants specializing in meals that are more than rice and beans, or pizza), tourism hustlers, and countless curio sellers - T-shirts are available. At times and place in the center, local Cubans clients are rare, or severely outnumbered by visitors. Because of Trinidad's orientation towards tourism, if you tune to it, you can feel some of the apartheid that hovers around tourism in Cuba.|
|Some of the landmarks in the town center (above, left to right) are :Plaza Mayor, Palace of Count Brunet (now the Romantic Museum), Church Santisima Trinidad (Church of the Holy Trinity), statue of Terpsichore (muse of dance and music) and San Francisco de Asis.|
|The Trinidad Historical Museum, formerly Palacio de Cantero, is another converted private mansion. Much of the museum is dining room, bedroom, kitchen and public area furnishings from the colonial period. There are also exhibits on the sugar economy, slavery, colonial government and culture.|
|It is possible to climb the tower of Palacio de Cantero. From the top you can view the skyline of Trinidad. The most distinctive structures, and landmarks, are churches.|
|Whether it is dog statures, guard dogs, shop dogs, or resting dogs, dogs are part of the scene in Trinidad. There are dozens of public dogs sharing the public spaces. They are very calm and some like a good rub down.|
|Every province has at least one Maternity Health Center to serve pregnant women. The are live-in clinics for woman from outlying area, and for local woman who are have problem pregnancies. Life for the residence seems to alternate between resting and relaxing, socializing with each other. The staff has individual plans for monitoring the residence, especially those that are at the center because of a high risk factors. Maternity centers would be in the category of another expression of Cuba's proactive, outcome oriented, preventative health philosophy.|
|While not unique to Trinidad, this is where we got our best look at Santaria. Santaria is a form of Christianity that merges similar West African deities and saints brought by the slaves with the saints of Christianity. The shrines draw from both traditions and are full of symbolism. Santaria has a corps of learned priest and priestess who lead other believers in the practice of the religion. At the shrine we visited the priest who was very accommodating in answering our questions and explaining the elements of the shrine. Most of the objects had direct symbolism and meaning.|
Santander Pottery factory. Trinidad is known for its pottery. This factory has been in the family since it opened in the 1892.
|Maybe it is the location, time of year or day of the week, but these Quinceañeras photo shoots and parties all were on the same day in Trinidad. Quinceañeras, in Cuba, are commonly bigger events than weddings - certainly the dresses are bigger.|
Cuba, and especially Triinidad, has one of the richest musical landscapes on the planet: Afro-Cuban jazz, Bolero (filin), Canción, Chachachá, Charanga, Conga, Contradanza, Criolla, Cubatón, Danzón, Guajira, Guaracha, Hip hop, Mambo, Mozambique, Nueva trova, Pachanga, Pilón, Pregón, Punto guajiro, Rock, Rumba (guaguancó, columbia, yambú, batá-rumba, guarapachangueo), Son (montuno), Songo, Timba, and Trova. It is a rare night that you don't have a choice between several performances in town.
|El Valle de los Ingenios or Valley of the Sugar Mills. It is actually three connected valleys; San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer. It was a center for sugar production from the late 18th century until the abolition of slavery in the late 19th century. At the peak of the industry in Cuba there were over fifty sugar cane mills in operation in the three valleys, with over 30,000 slaves working in the mills and on the sugar cane plantations that surrounded them.|
|Manacas Iznaga Tower: It was constructed sometime in 1816 by the owner, Alejo Maria Iznaga y Borrell. Legend says tower was made as a jail for an unfaithful wife, or in competitions between two brothers for a woman, or as a lookout over the valley. The bell that formerly hung on top of the tower, that now rest at the foot, announced the beginning and the end of the work day for the slaves, as well as the times for prayers to the Holy Virgin in the morning, midday, and afternoon. It was also used to sound an alarm in case of fire or slave escape.|
|craftspeople of Trinidad drawn thread embroidery, traditional craftwork, of Canarian origin.|
|Trinidad is also were we had an opportunity to take a horseback ride and hike to a waterfall. Horses are common in rural Cuba, generally as work animals rather than recreation equipment. The horses we had were very mild mannered and well behaved. The hike to the waterfall, along the river was a verdant delight. Thewaterfall is set in a lush glen where the river falls over the edge of a limestone cliff. Most of our group availed themselves of the opportunity for a swim at the waterfall. The water was warm enough to stay in for a while and still enjoy it. One of the fun and unique features of this waterfall is you can swim into a cave behind the waterfall and then swim out through the cascade. I looked for bats and other creatures in the cave but didn't see any. None-the-less it was a novel experience.|
|Weekends are laundry day. Passing through towns, villages, and the countryside, it is easy to pick up the pattern of people scrubbing laundry, ringing laundry, and hanging it out to dry – even when the skies look threatening. We gain some insight in the people and the homesteads get added bright colors.|
Please write if you have questions, comment, criticism, praise or additional information for us, find a bad link or would like to be added to IBF's mailing list. (Also let us know how you found this site.)
DreamHost - earth friendly web hosting"