Thursday, May 19, 2022

Trinidad, Cuba

 


My recent trip to Cuba took me to one of the oldest European cities in the Americas, Trinidad, which was founded in 1514. This was not my first visit to the city, I spent several hours here when I took a cruise to the island in 2019. However, this time I had a couple of days to explore its history and life.



I stayed at the Casa Fefa y Reyes, a colonial house in the center of town. This casa particular is a beautiful old building that has been updated to a modern B and B. It offered me the chance to visit behind the facade of one of the colonial homes in the old part of town. The casa had two front rooms with many pieces of furniture, and photographs, that date back to the original, pre-revolutionary owners. The rooms opened onto an interior courtyard, where I was served breakfast every morning, and guests could sit and enjoy the warm weather. There was also a roof-top patio that offered great views of the city.




My room at Casa Fefa y Reyes


Roof-top patio


After settling in, my group went for a walk to the Plaza Mayor, the traditional center of city life. We spent time taking some night photos at the plaza, and then headed to the Trinidad Jazz Cafe for a delicious dinner, with some live music to enjoy.


Plaza Mayor


Carlos Otero Blanco posing for us

A local muscian




I woke early the next morning, and headed up to the roof-top patio to take some early morning photos.








We spent the morning exploring the city. I stayed near Plaza Carrillo, which is the center of city life for most of the residents. It is a place where people hang out discussing the events of the day. I watched a young lady do her school work, some gentlemen creating “el hangeo” on the corner, and many people going about their daily chores.

Morning flowers for sale

Shortages mean people line up before the stores open


working phone booths



El Hangeo



Class trips look the same everywhere



I also visited the Casa de Yemayá, a temple to the Orisha of the oceans in the religion of Santería, the Cuban expression of the traditional Yoruban Lucumí belief system.

 

Trinidad is a beautiful and historic city, and it is a place that should be visited on any trip to Cuba.






Thursday, May 12, 2022

Palpité, Cuba


I had the opportunity to visit Cuba with a small group of photographers. After spending our first day in Old Havana, our group headed off to the city of Trinidad, a trip of 350 km (210 mi). Our guides had a lot in store, for, while our route was not the most direct,  it offered some wonderful discoveries.



Our first stop was in the town of Palpité, just north of Playa Larga. Palpité is a small hamlet, where, in the past wood was converted in charcoal. When we visited, that industry was shut down, possibly as an effect of the pandemic. Palpité is also the furthest into Cuba that the Bay of Pigs invasion was able to penetrate. Our stop here was for lunch, but we were early, which gave us a chance to explore the town. Lunch was at Don Alexis’, a restaurant that served excellent, and very fresh seafood, plus all the trimmings.

Hanging out on the porch







Flying a homemade kite



Cuba is home to the bumblebee hummingbird, the smallest bird species in the world. We visited a local sanctuary to see these birds close up.






From Palpité we drove on to the city of Cienfuegos. We were looking for gasoline for the cars, which was in short supply when we arrived on the island. We found a station with gas near the city’s malecon. While the cars were refueling, we noticed a class for young boxers going on along the waterfront. The teacher and the parents of the young boxers allowed us to take photos of them in action.











Our road trip was a wonderful introduction to island, and to the need to be prepared for improvisation that would be a part of our stay.