Hey again friends, family and followers,
This post is one of two articles about the people of Trinidad (I took many more photos in Trinidad than in Havana and have more stories to tell). First, a little about Trinidad (not to be confused with the island country of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela). Trinidad is located in south central Cuba and was founded in 1514 making it over 500 years old. It has a population of about 80,000. The main industries are tourism and agriculture. Those not working in tourism (restaurants, hotels, shops, taxi drivers, tour guides and etc.) work in the tobacco fields, others raising food crops, and others with livestock such as beef cattle (most beef is used in the tourist industry), hogs, sheep and goats. Sugarcane used to be a huge industry in Cuba but the sugar mills fell into disrepair although there is a recent revival in sugar production. Nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios (the Valley of the Sugar Mills) but has are no operating mills left in the valley! Trinidad and the surrounding area was designated a World Heritage site in 1988. Many of the streets are cobblestone, a couple paved roads and some are packed dirt. All the people we met were very friendly and wanted to know as much about us as we did of them. Again, to quote Rick Steves, the travel writer “even though they don’t have a lot, they act like they do!” They have a lot of dignity and pride, they are proud of their country regardless of it’s condition and shortfalls and they wanted to know what we thought about Cuba. To sum it up, the people were beautiful!
Now on to some of those we met in Trinidad. First, I’d like you meet the hostess at our casa particular (bed and breakfast), Anabel Ruiz Torrens, we called her Ana or Anabel. For the past year, she has rented out the second floor of her home to tourists. Our living area consisted of a bedroom (bigger than ours at home!), a small bathroom with shower (not too much water pressure), a dining area, a sitting room with rocking chairs and a small tv, and a veranda overlooking the street. Anabel was a great host and ambassador for her country, her place was modest but cleaner than clean. Four meals were included, two breakfasts and two evening meals. Each time she brought us so much food that we’d explode if we ate it all! However, she told us that whatever we didn’t eat she fed to her family the next day, nothing went to waste. Anabel had two children and a two year old grand daughter who is the apple of her eye. We asked if she an “espousa” (a husband) and she replied “no espousa, no problema!” Even though she spoke very little English and we very little Spanish that we could understand very clearly! Sometimes communication was slow but through a few words of English and Spanish, some illustrations, and lots of gestures we could communicate. If you ever find yourself in Cuba and need a place to stay, let me know and I’ll send you Ana’s contact information, we are friends on Facebook!
Walking down the street from Ana’s late one afternoon, we encountered three ladies standing outside their house laughing and having a good time. The woman on the right was very outgoing while the other two ladies seemed quieter and more reserved (do you think sisters?). They asked if I would take their photo (it happened a lot) so I obliged and zoomed in to take a close up of the two sisters, when they saw the photo of them they both fussed with their hair, supposedly thinking it needed fixing! Then I pointed to my gray hair and Donna’s more brownish hair and we had a good laugh about the color of our hair. What a delightful group Cubans to meet.
Later on the same walk, we ran across these two scenes. The top photo is a man sharpening his machete for what I suspect is work in the fields the next day. The black cat adds a nice touch to this photo, totally an accident by the way! Just down the street from this guy was the local barber cutting someone’s hair on his front porch and another customer waiting in line. Note the bird cage, lots of people have caged birds in their homes, they even take those birds out for walk and when they meet their friends in the park!
Can you imagine the conversation these guys are having? I’m guessing talking the onion and garlic selling business! In a few minutes off they went to sell their wares door to door.
And what do you think this story is about? Again, my guess, the guy was able to score a new door (major feat in a country that has limited access to building materials, no Home Depot or Menards!) and needed to get it home. The only way to do it was to carry while riding on his only mode of transportation. He could have hired a horse and buggy but cost money. Note the sign on the side of the building behind the door, Viva Fidel.
Meet Julio Munoz, a photography guide based in Trinidad. While he has traveled extensively outside of Cuba (he is a dual citizen of Cuba and Spain), Trinidad is his home and according to him the most beautiful place on earth. He is very proud of his home town. He led on a couple hour photo tour off the tourist path and pointed out a number of photo possibilities to us. I think he “planted” a few people along the route for us to photograph, illustrated by a couple of photos of the fellow smoking a cigar.
Now I don’t think this guy was a plant by Julio but what an interesting scene. He was so intent on getting his shaving done, he hardly noticed a group of photographers shooting his picture.
Down the street from the man shaving was this guy resting below the wooden cross on the side of a building. Not sure if this was a church at least it wasn’t obvious but a number of buildings had crosses probably to indicate that the occupants were believers. Nearby this scene was a small park with three crosses portraying the crucification of Christ. Of note, this photo was taken on Ash Wednesday.
Stay tuned next for part two of the people of Trinidad.