2017
03.24
Day 10-11

Transit Trinidad

SYNOPSIS:  TRANSIT TO TRINIDAD.  MORE ON HOW VIAZUL OPERATES.  FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF TRINIDAD.

Our Viazul bus ride to Trinidad was less than two hours and on time.  It does not get much better with Viazul.  We got a bit more insight into the workings of this bus company and there were fewer surprises this time.  Soon, we will be experts. 

The bus terminal was crowded, sticky, filthy and chaotic.  This time I was the one who had to get in line to get our tickets.  Even though we already booked and paid for our bus tickets, Viazul still requires us to get “real” tickets at the point of departure.  Last time, Celi had stood in line forever only to be told that she was too early.  This time, we planned this right.  We showed up 35 minutes before departure.  I reached the front of the line only to be told that I should have been one line over.  Of course, no information, no signs, no whatever.  I have no idea what the line was for that I had started in. 

Thankfully, the second line was short.  When I reached the clerk I was hardly surprised to find out that once again, I was in the wrong line.  This time, he pointed to a small door to his left.  That is where I should be.  But the door was closed?  I finally understood that I had to stand there until the door would open, which should be shortly.  Fine, if that is what it takes…. 

Four Canadians had already sat down next to that door and got in front of me.  Within minutes the line behind me was substantial.  We chatted.  The Canadians had tried to take the bus from Trinidad to Cienfuegos, but to their surprise (not mine), they found out that all the buses (that is the few that go) had been reserved and were full.  They had to pay for an expensive taxi to move on.  I told them from what little I knew, that they were in the wrong line. This was the final check-in line for the next bus that would actually leave and for people who had already booked and paid for their tickets.  They did not even know when a bus would go to where they wanted to go.  But they did not want to believe me. Promptly they were told to just step aside when the door finally opened.  They were not pleased.   I have a feeling that their experience with this bus company will not improve much.  I am just so glad that by accident I stumbled on the fact that these buses would fill up weeks ago back in the States.  What a costly nightmare we could have faced.

The road from Cienfuegos to Trinidad winds along in the foothills of the Sierra del Escambray Mountains, in parts parallel to the ocean shoreline.  The landscape was gorgeous.  The mountains in the back, rolling hills, steppes with grazing animals, fruit plantations, palm trees, here and there a hut nestled against the hill, and once in a while a small village.  The sky was blue and filled with a few white clouds; picture perfect.  Whatever the scenery was between Havana and Cienfuegos — I missed it all as I was so sick and out of it.  I am glad I could enjoy this one.

The ride went by fast. 

At the other end we were met by a bicyclist who managed to pack both of our heavy suitcases as well as our two backpacks, one camera bag and both of us onto his tricycle.   The roads in the center of Trinidad are all made of cobblestones of the most irregular sizes and shapes.  The tricycles here have extra wide tires; nonetheless, I cannot believe how hard these guys are working! 

We were at our next AirBnB in no time.  I had chosen this one for its traditional, colonial architecture, once again the reason why Trinidad achieved UNESCO status.   But already way before that, under Batista, it had been declared a protected city and later, under Fidel, it became a national monument.    

Trinidad has a lot of one-story colonial houses.  At first glance, it seems more homogenous than Cienfuegos.  The ostentatious villa-mansion-palaces are missing.  These houses however, are quite stately.  People around here leave windows and doors open freely and it is possible to get a good sense of how other interiors look.  The main feature of these homes seems to be a huge square parlor, the public space of the home.  Four rooms are arranged off the parlor; two to the left, two to the right.  The back of the parlor opens to the garden.  Our host Flor and her husband inherited the home from his father and remodeled the yard.  They added on a single row of five rooms with an overhanging protective roof along the full length of their yard.  Despite that loss, the yard is still sizable and allows for several seating areas, laundry, a water tank, and a well remaining in the middle of it all.  Perhaps, this was a double lot?  This is a lot of property in the middle of a city.  This remodeling allowed the family to rent out several rooms to tourists.  Our room is small, but not tiny.  Our bathroom is adequate but not spectacular. It is the garden that takes the prize.  Sitting here, shaded by fruit trees with a breeze going through, is so relaxing!  Writing my blog here will be a delight.

It is only a short 10 minutes to the main square.  We reached it just before sunset.  It was completely crowded with tourists.  I don’t remember anything like this from 15 years ago.  Tourism boom.  And that before American visits have been completely deregulated!  I can only imagine what Cuba will be like when — or should I say, if —  Americans can travel freely. 

Travel days are not the most exciting ones.  I am glad we are traveling without rushing.  Slow days are needed here and there to catch our bearings.  This was one of them.

Good night.