“As a kid, I would have liked to have grown up in Trinidad” is one of the phrases written in a notebook that still has the remains of a Bucanero beer. I still stress. Strolling through this city in the south of Cuba always reconnects us with the past through cobblestone streets where children play ball and move away when a bread vendor approaches on a bicycle. From the tropical patios the rhythm of the guaguancó sprouts and the neighbors take the cool next to a blue, green wall, so many colors, missing times that will not return (and that do not come).

Designated a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1988, Trinidad was, since its foundation in 1514, a marginal redoubt of smugglers, farmers and Tahinos until the discovery of sugar cane cultivation. By the 19th century, this city was already an economic lung swollen by the great fortunes amassed thanks to the sugar exploitation in the nearby Valle de los Ingenios. An ephemeral period, weighed down by the two wars of independence that completely destroyed the plantations in the area around 1850. Since then, the stopped clocks of Trinidad invite the visitor to be part of its magical lethargy.Street of Trinidad city, Cuba.

Trinidad: the colors of history

Trinidad is a shortcut to another era, perhaps one of the most obvious in the entire Caribbean. On the traffic signs there are no cars or cranes drawn, but horse carts; the donkeys heave a sigh and the guajiros (or farmers) return home chewing a good Romeo y Julieta cigar. As a backdrop, a color palette that never fades. 

A living watercolor for lovers of photography and history, especially if we start in the Plaza Mayor of Trinidad and its parish church of the Holy Trinity, rebuilt in 1892 on the remains of an old temple devastated by a storm. Or better yet, go up to the bell tower of the church of San Francisco -a typical stamp of 90% of Trinidad souvenirs- to admire the map of exuberant roofs. And turn northwest along Calle Echerri, where a visit to the convent of San Francisco de Asís is linked to the park, such a canvas for the sunset and its fruity airs.Church and convent of San Francisco in Trinidad, Cuba.

As we head towards the Tres Cruces neighborhood to the north, the houses show a more neglected and humble aspect, but no less fascinating for that. There is an old woman leaning out the door watching her husband fix a 50 Plymouth, and the network of bare cables on the street simulate the pennants of a sinister festival. If time is short, you can reach the Cerro de la Vigía after a 40-minute walk -better early in the day- and get an unbeatable view of the city. Or descend towards the Yemayá santeria temple house, dedicated to the orisha (Yoruba goddess) of the sea and run by priests who will not hesitate to attract you with well-rehearsed speeches.

After this tour of the center of Trinidad, we return to the Plaza Mayor to indulge in the simplest pleasures: ropa vieja with yams, bananas and rice at the bohemian Jazz Café; the relaxed atmosphere of the La Botija tavern – with its resident Latin jazz band -, or the street stall set up outside a neighbor’s door that sells ice-cold minis of canchánchara, a popular Trinitarian drink based on cane liquor, lemon and honey. Disco Ayala daytime.

Despite its coat of paint, Trinidad is also a good reflection of the social fabric of the Cuban island.

Despite its coat of paint, Trinidad is also a good reflection of the social fabric of the Cuban island: the queues to fill out your Wi-Fi card and look for a signal in a park, the junkies and their stratagems to take advantage of tourists, or the private houses Cuban cigars run by friendly owners who will not hesitate to find “the best” cigars in all of Cuba for you. 

Excursions from Trinidad

In its surroundings, Trinidad treasures a set of experiences with its beaches as the spearhead. 11 km south of the city, Playa Ancón seduces us with its three blues, royal palm trees and the area of ​​La Boca with its summer houses. To reach the beach we can do the route by bicycle, bus – quite an experience -, or a taxi for about 8 CUC (8 euros), a price perhaps lower than that of a bottle of sunscreen (things that only happen in Cuba).Ancon beach, near Trinidad, Cuba.

If you prefer to delve into the sugar culture of the area, nothing better than entering the Valle de los Ingenios through different haciendas, including Buena Vista, Guáimaro or, especially, Manaca-Iznaga, with its 44-meter-high watchtower. . Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Valle de los Ingenios still preserves a few sugar cane crops, although here the visitor opts for new dives such as the San Isidro de los Destiladeros complex, with its sugar mill, rusty machinery and old slave houses watched over by perfidious landowners.

Another excursion option in the surroundings of Trinidad consists of a visit to the Topes de Collantes natural park, about 20 km from the city.Topes de Collantes natural park.

A wild paradise in the Sierra del Escambray where we find the set of natural pools of La Batata, the possibility of a horseback ride from the Rancho Hace Codina, surrounded by orchids and bamboo groves; or especially, dive into the Caburní waterfall and its refreshing natural pool. All this, surrounded by the echo of the old steps of Che Guevara, who camped in these mountains on his way to Santa Clara at the end of 1958.

Finally, we suggest a visit to Sancti Spiritus, a colonial city located 71 km from Trinidad and conceived by many as a less touristy version of its contemporary. In this forgotten city, the hordes of guides waiting at the Viazul bus station and the tricks of its vendors are scarce. 

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