1. April (Sunday): Today is the first of April and we're to set out to discover Trinidad.
Breakfast is better but there's still the odd fly buzzing about.
We're out early, so we walk down a road lined with souvenir stands. We get caught up looking at hats and pretty but useless trinkets which we know we can't really buy due to the length of our backpack trip still ahead of us. Annewien fancies some crochet blouses, tries on a few and almost bought one but remembered our souvenir quota at the last moment.
We continue on to the "Ministerio Municipal", which is the former residence of a rich but supposedly evil sugar baron who had his rich wife and others killed for personal gain. It is a large mansion, beautifully kept with loads of furniture, vases and pictures. The interior has extremely high rooms and the walls are ornamentally painted as if carved. The tower offers nice views of Trinidad.
Detail of Porcelain in Trinidad Sugar Baron's Mansion
Nearby is a Santeria Church - Santeria being a Cuban mixture of Voodoo and Christianity - called Casa Templo de Santerña "Yemayñ" which is wonderfully strange inside. There is an religious Christian effigy with Christmas lights along with a voodoo-type mask with some offerings. (We would see a much more bizarre version of such a place of worship some weeks later in Santiago, Guatemala)
There is hardly much of a choice of restaurants in Trinidad. We had lunch at a small restaurant offering mostly Pollo (chicken) along with a few other tourists.
We then visit the Museo de Contrarevolution, which is in a church-like building. Here, they celebrate the revolution and also the defeat of the "counter-revolution", a movement which had built up against Che and Fidel's revolution. I was particularly keen to see some original remains of American U2 spy-plane which the Cubans shot down in the 60's with Russian help (Here's an good information source about the crisis by the National Security Archive) There are lots of photos and some large objects such as boats, trucks and guns to be seen. There is a nice view from the rooftop bell-tower over Trinidad.
We decide to go back to the beach at Playa Ancon, so we fetch our car.
One of the tires had been low on air lately so I decide to have it pumped up. At the petrol station (which of course has no petrol) they discover that it probably has a problem. They jack up the car, remove the outer tire and dip the inner tube into a bowl of water to show us the bubbles of air leaving the tire from the spot where a large nail has punctured it. Of course they would repair the tire, they say, but it would take awhile. By now there were about 10 people and a number of children watching the proceedings and a number of them were busy helping. They mounted the spare tire so we could drive on, and we could fetch the repaired tire in the evening.
We head off to Playa Ancon and spend some more wonderful time at the beach.
In the evening, we return to Trinidad to climb the small hill overlooking the town. We find it with ease, are a bit apprehensive about being robbed at such a lonely location, reach the ruins near the top and are indeed rewarded with a nice view. A few raindrops fall just as we reach at the top and we decide to head downwards.
Cobbled Trinidad Street
Just as we enter town, the skies open up with a real downpour! We seek shelter in a small local bar with only men as customers, most of them are drinking Rum. One of the men, an old chap, starts up a conversation and it's great how well Annewien can communicate with the locals. Annewien gives him a cigarette and he allows us to try a bit of his rum. Eventually we are joined by another Cuban.
The rain shows no signs of abating and this is the first time on our trip that we have seen any rain. After about an hour the rain calms down a bit and we dash to our car, which is parked on a street-corner a few blocks from the bar.
We return to the garage to fetch our fixed tire.
One of the men there desperately wants to sell us cheap petrol. I'm a bit concerned about it's quality: I want to avoid engine damage to our car at all costs. They are very pushy but relent when I raise my voice a bit, say I would only like the tire today and would come back tomorrow for the petrol. The price for repairing the tire has risen too, since it was "more work than expected".
We're back to our room to dry up. By the time we have changed, the rain is stopped so I re-park the car at the guarded lot for the night.
For dinner we try an 'Italian' restaurant, but the food is expensive and not really very edible. We buy some beers and drink them in the rocking chairs on the porch outside our room.