This is a continuation of my original post back on October of Americans In Cuba. Last year when we went to Cuba, it was still within the year or so that Obama helped relations between the United States and Cuba. I made it a point to visit as soon as I could since in 2017 we would have a new president and could possibly fuck everything up again (which is already happening).
I continue this blog with us arriving in the city of Trinidad from Cien Fuegos. We chose Trinidad since it is one of Cuba's oldest and best preserved cities. It seemed like a must see place for us so we booked an AirBNB for a few days close to the center of this small town. When I say small, I mean small. You can pretty much walk around the whole town like it was your local neighborhood. The only means of transportation you would need would be if you wanted to go to the beach, hike nearby, swimming in one of the nearby waterfalls or anything like that.
One of the things that attracted us to Trinidad was the overall look of the place. Every street is classic cobblestone with tons of colors everywhere.
Ironically, the one thing I wasn't able to capture was quite possibly the most fun and memorable experience of this trip. One thing we were all looking forward to was going to one of the epic looking waterfalls and cliff jumps that were nearby to Trinidad. Our driver recommended we go to Parque El Cubano which was about a 45 minute hike to a waterfall where there was a cliff jump and a place to swim. We heard this and said "DONE! Lets go!".
After an epic hike to the waterfall, it begins to drizzle so we try to cover up our gear and go for a swim. It was probably one of or if not, the best swims of my life until it started to thunder and lightning. A few of us hid out in a cave sine we didn't want to be in the water while the lightning was striking. Next thing we knew, we looked out and everyone was gone. After one of us felt lightning strike through the cave wall, we decided to swim as fast as we could to the other side so we could be on land. I felt like Michael Phelps diving and swimming as fast as I could in 30ft deep water to the other side where we made it to the rest of our group safely.
There was a tour guide type of guy who was the last one left besides us who said he's seen numerous cases of people dying from lightning strikes in the same water we were just in. After that, we felt super lucky to be ok. However, we weren't fully OK since we still had to hike 45 minutes back in torrential downpour through steep cliffs, slippy rocks, deep mud, and fast flowing rivers.
I obviously couldn't take my Sony A7RII out since it would've surely had some sort of water damage and of course, my completely unreliable GoPro fogged up in its case the second I turned it on so I wasn't able to capture any of this epic experience.
The Cuban government regulates a lot of what their citizens get and flowing water in their homes is one of them. We happen to get there while the place we were staying at ran out of it's running water for the month, so taking showers was tough. We had a few nights of trying to shower with practically drops of water coming out of the shower head. When we got back to our AirBNB after our hike, we were fortunate enough to have the greatest natural shower running off the roof of the house. We went from having the worst showers of our lives to the best shower I've ever had. I couldn't help but capture this moment. Here are a few of my favorite shots from this:
We headed back to Havana for a couple of days after Trinidad and the rain continued. We had another incredible AirBNB penthouse where the owner was super nice and helpful as usual. We made the best of the bad weather. We had a water balloon fight on the roof in the middle of a downpour, we were still able to catch cabs to eat at cool restaurants and I actually think I got most of my favorite photos from this part of the trip.
Our friend, Chanel, is a huge cigar fanatic, so of course, we had to visit the Cohiba factory. I'm not into cigars or tours like this, especially on vacation but it was something to do where we could stay dry and it was actually pretty interesting on the history and what it takes to roll these cigars.
We went to a well known Cafe for lunch called "San Cristobal Paladar", which is mostly known for being in a famous Cuban movie, "Fresa Y chocolate", but more recently, this is the Cafe in the Netflix show, "The OA", where Hap discovers Renata playing the guitar. We went because it was in such an interesting building, it was mostly for the experience. You have to pretty much walk into these huge random doors on the street and walk through a courtyard where people live and the Cafe is on the second or third floor.
After we ate, we had to take advantage of this extremely photogenic location.
Overall, this was an unforgettable experience and I highly recommend you to check out Cuba. I'm glad I took advantage when I had the chance. It's supposedly much cheaper and easier to travel there now on your own without any travel agency too which is a plus.
I read and was told a bunch of information before visiting that might be important to point out. Keep in mind, these are all from my personal experiences.
- I was told that there are no stores in Havana and it's hard to find food when you're walking around all day and it's smart to pack snacks to bring around with you. We packed plenty of snacks in our luggage and only ended up eating them for midnight snacks back wherever we were staying. We never found it hard to get food no matter what time of day or city we were visiting.
- Speaking of food, the majority of the food there is pretty bad. If you go to a government run restaurant, the food is regulated and tastes generally very bland. The best food we had were probably at hotels but nothing really blew us away.
- There are almost no beans in Cuba. If you have your heart set on rice and beans, forget about it.
- There's a thing called "Cuba Time". Maybe we just made it up since were fast paced New Yorkers but everything and everyone there takes their sweet ass time. If you're ever in a rush to do something or get somewhere, forget it.
- I've heard from almost everyone who went to Cuba before us that locals will come up to you all day every day and ask you for food and money since they know you're a tourist. I've been all over the world so I'm used to experiencing this in touristy areas but for whatever reason out of the 8 days we were there, we only experienced it 1 time so it wasn't a big deal for us.
- Carrying around toilet paper is a must! Almost every place we stayed had some for us but when you go out, most restaurants and cafes don't have any so be sure to throw some in your bag every day.
Hope this little bit of information helps anyone trying to plan a trip. If you are an American planning to go to Cuba in the future, I'd recommend doing it as soon as possible before we're not allowed to legally travel there again...
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