TRINIDAD, CIENFUEGOS, SANTA CLARA…

Flying the flag in Cienfuegos

Fidel and Che – their spirits live on. Bookstall Cienfuegos

It’s a five-hour drive from Havana to Trinidad, with a stop at CIENFUEGOS, a gracious UNESCO HERITAGE SITE.

Kerbside Cienfuegos

Wide boulevards, lovely spacious squares with trees, flowers, and plenty of benches for sitting and contemplating life, and the gracious turn of the century buildings. There are charming houses painted in sunshine shades of yellow, pink and aqua blue; many are now guest houses for the many tourists who flock to the city.

Behind the curtain. Theatre Cienfuegos

Typically painted wood house near the sea in Trinidad

The Teatro Thomas Terry, a well-preserved Art Nouveau building in the centre of the city, attracted famous performers such as the Great Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt and still functions.

After lunch, overlooking the sea (bizarrely, no fish available on the menu!  But that’s Cuba.) we were on our way to Trinidad passing fields of mangos, citrus fruits and tobacco. A sad truth about Cuba is there is no production of fruit and vegetables because there is no machinery or power. Horse and carts aren’t a tourist attraction – just a normal means of transportation in rural areas.

There is little traffic, not a truck in sight, and few people working in the fields.

The wind in their hair – the way to travel. One of the few cars on the ‘highway’.

TRINIDAD is a tourist attraction. You see them sitting on the steps in the main square on their cell phones because apparently, you can get rare-to-find internet connection (if you are lucky). We were introduced to a woman who smuggled a booster into Cuba from the U.S. and people go to her house (she also cooks) and buy time and have an excellent cup of coffee whilst they ‘get connected’. Almost anything and everything is available on the Black Market. TheEye wishes she had packed some of her old ‘cast offs’ and set up shop. It would have covered the cost of her holiday…almost.

A mahjong game in the street. Trinidad.

Like most of the best things we saw and did in Cuba, it was not planned or pre-arranged. Wandering off the beaten track in Trinidad, we encountered street markets with hairdressers, barbers, and beauticians, alongside butchers, fruit stalls, and sweet vendors, making the fried dough specialities much loved by Cubans.

Butcher. Well, you can’t say it isn’t fresh!

Fancy a grilled pig’s snout?? NO.

BARBER

Beautician at work. Eyebrow threader. Trinidad

CHILDREN’S NURSERY DAY

25-year celebration of  CHILDREN’S FREE NURSERY DAY introduced by Castro

This really was a question of taking the wrong turn on our way to the internet lady’s house and encountering something wonderful. A square filled with children in fancy dress dancing and singing, balloons, clowns, photographers, home-made toys, vendors selling ice cream and sweets. A happy celebration in praise of Fidel Castro and his pre-school care programme.

What a great smile!

Children’s free nursery celebration and Castro is still in their hearts and minds

Entrepreneurial photographer Children’s Free Nursery Day Trinidad

This is what is so confusing.

Cuba is still a Communist country and the legacies of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara haven’t diminished. Their faces are everywhere.

The hardships and repressions of the former regimes have undoubtedly relaxed, but not disappeared. People are poor, basic supplies in short demand, but everyone receives a free education and the free medical care makes the NHS look shameful. An odd notion of entrepreneurship wafts in the air. Whether it’s restaurants in private homes or hole in the wall coffee ‘houses’, buying internet, or the wonderful toys we saw at Children’sFree Nursery Day celebrating 25 years of free nursery education for the children of working parents and a scheme for teachers to go to individual houses to show them how to educate their children at home.

Imagine if that were on offer in the U.K.?

Made from boxes. Imaginative toys made from scraps.

They still love Castro – singing his praises.

A packed auditorium filled with grateful parents praising the legacy of Fidel Castro.

We left Trinidad stopping briefly in Santa Clara to see the Che Mausoleum and Museum and then back to Havana and time to go.

A memorable trip packing so much into a short time.

Surprising in every way.

EYELIGHTS

SALON GISELLE – BRANCHES IN LONDON, NEW YORK AND PARIS!!

CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER: GISSELLE

Slogan on wall ‘EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN WELL AND IT WON’T BE NECESSARY TO PUNISH YOUR MEN’

The three tenors of Trinidad

Two elegant cigar-smoking gardeners.

And away she goes!

Downtown Cienfuegos

TheEye was told off by a famous photographer she bumped into in Trinidad for taking photos of the glorious cars because it’s what naff tourist do. But shucks, TheEye had to face the truth – she IS a naff tourist and loved the cars!!

So here’s a taster….

Gorgeous!

Maybe leave this one behind??

AND GOODBYE CUBA – IT’S BEEN GREAT!

Statue of Che in Santa Clara

4 Comments

  1. Love Giselle and the Cars!!!

  2. Fabulous article and really exquisite photos…. including the cars!

  3. lovely pix and commentary. Not quite true re the NHS though – In Cuba you can get the consultations and the advice but they dont have the equipment or the drugs. Is that Ruth on the horse? Who was the famous photographer??? How could you not take photos of the divine cars! Did you go to Norahs in Cienfuegos and that very fine abandoned mansion at the bottom of the main square.

    • True about equipment and drugs but there are lessons – Yes, Ruth on the horse and she had a great ride on a great horse and we went to a horse whisperer which was fascinating. Till recently he kept horses in his (huge) house in Trinidad. Fascinating. It was Martin Parr. As you see I ignored the advice and took endless car pictures. No, didn’t go to Norah’s – only in Cianfuegos a short time. Missed you yesterday at Collect but if you read my next post you will learn all about it without having gone.

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