Time to head out of Trinidad and on to our next destination. Today was another bus journey, with a stop off just outside Trinidad. Despite being only 16km northeast of the city (according to my trusted Lonely Planet), the scenery was very different! Instead of the arid and dry sort of area it was very green. Though, we were near the mountains as walking through the city of Trinidad we could see them! Anyway, we stopped off at Manaca Iznaga – the site at whichm in 1795, Pedro Iznaga became one of the wealthiest men in Cuba through slave trafficking. There was a 44m tower next to the hacienda which was used to watch the slaves. This was next to a beautiful large house (now a restaurant!) with a huge sugar press out the back!
For the second time this holiday, the internal battle to decide between knees or view. For the second time this holiday, the view won! So, off up the 44m tower I went. The views were nothing mind-blowing but it was nice to head up and gauge some perspective on where I was and see the natural side to the country I was visiting. It sort of reminded me of home, with all the greenery and fields (home being Yorkshire, England!)
It was a nice atmosphere in the area, with a small row of market stalls that locals had obviously set up for the tourist spot. Everyone was friendly though and it made the area a little more alive.
Next, was back on to the bus for the drive northwards (roughly). We stopped off along the way for a comfort break, which was quick an easy. Here, they were selling books and I found one on Guerrilla Warfare by Che Guevara with a banner on the cover saying: ‘The authorized and corrected editions of the best selling classic by Che Guevara’ – just shows that there’s a whole other side that we may never know. It brings back the reality that we really were in a heavily controlled country, no matter what tourist places we were enjoying. Our guide bought us a small cone each made of paper from a man standing outside the entrance. A nice little treat for us to open them and have some peanuts – a snack common in the area to keep us going. It was nice because they weren’t the typical roasted heavily salted ones that we get, but just the original fresh ones. It was a nice little challenge getting to the ones right at the bottom of the cone 🙂 The lunch stop was a similar roadside place, not much there and simple sandwiches, though I would call the toasties, with banana chips. It was nice enough and kept us going until dinner!
Once we arrived in Camagüey we headed to the only hotel we stayed in for the whole trip – Hotel Colon. Being the daughter of a gastroenterologist it took me a while to figure out we weren’t staying in a place names after an organ, rather a hotel based around the Colonial era.
After a quick welcome drink (with a healthy dash of rum!) we headed out on our orientation walk. We walked up the street and headed up through the main squares and high street. We headed to a cafe known for it’s coffee – literally every drink contained coffee – even the cocktails! – (it’s a shame I don’t like coffee) via a rather nicely decorated toilet! It’s in one of the clubs and apparently the most highly decorated one we would see in Cuba.
We then headed to the Coppelia – the government run ice cream parlour. Here was a peso place and it was absolutely packed with locals. We were the only tourists in there; I’m not surprised really – it was a bit dark and the air was definitely very hot and heavy. BUT, we braved it in for the cheap ice cream which promised to be refreshing. There were two flavours that day: coconut and pineapple..so just the coconut for me as I’m allergic to pineapple. We went for the basic small portion as dinner was soon and were given a bowl of cake, two scoops of ice cream and wafers! It was huge and very tasty.
We went back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before out again for dinner at Restaurante 1800. Starred in the Lonely Planet as a place to eat and recommended by the guide too – it was set to be a good dinner! There was an all you can eat buffet for 12CUC which had starters, mains and pudding which most people went for. Given that I don’t have that large an appetite, I went for the a la carte menu and chose the ‘camarones enchiladas’ or shimps in feisty tomato salsa (as recommended in the Lonely Planet) with some rice. It was pretty good and was a nice change to the food we’d been eating over the holiday (which the buffet was more of). The only thing I was disappointed with in the restaurant was that there was official Coca Cola branding around the place in the form of a sign and a huge glass Coca Cola bottle BUT, they had run out. Being a bit of a coke snob and only drinking the real, full fat red stuff I felt that it was rather mean to dangle it in front of my nose but not be allowed any! So close, yet so far.