Victor & Joanne's Cuban Adventure travel blog

February 12 - On Hold In Trinidad

Whatever bug hit Joanne Thursday night has basically put her out of commission.Today, other than getting up to go for a walk and admire our host's beautiful 1956 Chevy, and another venture out to the Parque Cespedes, Joanne has stayed in with no energy, but improving. Those of us who have had this condition know it takes at least a day or two to begin feeling normal.

Since Joanne has been out of commission, Victor has had a great deal of opportunity to speak to the locals and walk around to learn things about this busy city and its hidden treasures. And when we say, "hidden", we do mean hidden, since to find alternatives to internet, restaurants, busses etc. means talking to locals and learning where they are hidden.

One example of this was when we discovered we could not use our memory stick in the internet station "Etecsa" for which we bought a 60 minute card and have had no problems in other places. After some discussion with the owner of another Casa Particular, who had to phone her son to ask the question, we were sent to a corner restaurant that had an internet cafe "hidden" in the back. Not only would one not be able to find the internet site from the street, but one would be hard pressed to recognize it as a restaurant.

Some of the mysteries are becoming unraveled as we wander through this city. Lineups for everything is the order of the day here. The town squares or plazas are a hotbed of meetings and heated discussions. The baseball arguments near the Parque Cespedes' plaza are very animated and very entertaining to listen to and watch. Clearly, the one who is the loudest and most animated is the winner. They go on and on. We have been trying to suss out a baseball game ever since we arrived in Cuba, but alas, the stars have not been aligned as yet. We understand there is one today in Sancti Spiritus, but Joanne is unable to make the 1 hour trip to take that in, so since we are planning to leave Monday it is likely we will have to wait until we get to Santa Clara where we believe there may be one happening on Tuesday.

Vendors riding their bikes or horse drawn wagons up and down the streets sell everything from fresh bread to fresh vegetables. Transportation runs the gamut from pedicabs to horse drawn carts to motorized "coco cabs", to regular taxis and mini buses. But for the common Cubanos, to get to their jobs or other parts of neighbouring towns, it's hitching rides and waiting, waiting, waiting. It is a national problem that does not seem to be improving with the growing population.

The duality of systems for Cubans and visitors is very strange for us. There is not only different currencies in place for Cubans and visitors, but also different restaurants, different transportation methods, different accommodations etc. The things to which Cubans are privy are usually inferior to our standards and therefore we are quite happy to pay more. For example, pedicabs are not allowed to give rides to visitors. It is against the law. At least in this city. The same, we suspect, is the case with the horse drawn carts.

One thing about this city and we dare say other cities we have visited thus far is that it's very safe. No matter how busy the streets are and what time of the night you find yourself walking in the primarily poorly lit streets, there is never the slightest sign of danger to yourself, aside from the cars and motorized vehicles that come from nowhere toward you with no regard to right of ways. Here it's pedestrian beware! Motor vehicles have the right of way. Perhaps the price of gas has something to do with it.

Another thing that is evident here and elsewhere, is music, music, music with congas, maracas, sticks, some brass and guitars and the syncopated rhythms of son. Quite wonderful to stop and listen and carry on walking in the cool evenings.

Tonight may be another quiet one for us as Joanne continues to get her strength back. We will most likely find a nice restaurant where she can enjoy some aroz y frioles (rice and beans) and come home early and early to bed.

Hasta manana.

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