Plaza Carrillo, Trinidad, Cuba

In this post (Holy smoke – March 29. Where does the time go?) we described the first leg of our Cuban bus trip out of Havana to Cienfuegos. Picking up from where we left off, we boarded a mid-morning Viazul bus out of Cienfuegos for the two-hour trip to Trinidad, one of Cuba’s most historic and picturesque towns. Trinidad is a lovely colonial town replete with cobblestone streets, plenty of horse- and oxen-drawn carts, and bright-hued, tile-roofed adobe buildings. The town is a beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage site, and the clear late-afternoon light and vivid colors make it a photographer’s dream.

We only had two full days to explore Trinidad. It wasn’t nearly enough, but we made the most of it. Since those days happened to be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the town was chock-full of tourists, but the townspeople were also out in force preparing their own celebrations. We relished the festive mood, especially at night when Trinidad came alive with music and merriment.

Rather than stay in town, we opted for La Boca – a scenic waterfront area about an eight-minute taxi ride from Trinidad Central. For our three nights there, we stayed in another casa particular – the El Capitan B&B, a “splurge” at $55 a night. This lovely property feels more like an inn than the typical home stay, with four rooms for rent, but it has been in the Casanova family for three generations (four, if you count Yilka and Michael’s young kiddos). And we had a huge bonus when our host Yilka invited us to New Year’s dinner, a wonderful and homey affair in which all of us guests sat down with the extended family and the inn employees to enjoy a marvelous dinner of roast pig with all the trimmings. Truly memorable!

I especially loved photographing the families enjoying the fine weather and festive atmosphere. Wherever we went in Cuba, we found vibrant street life – these folks have better things to do than sit inside watching TV or playing with electronic gadgets. It’s like a throwback to a simpler time, when people preferred hanging out with each other to anything else.

25 Comments

  1. so colourful, when I see pictures, I always feel that there is a “happy” feeling there… love the old cars

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you! We were so lucky to experience Cuba while we could. It’s a magical place.

  2. Great article on Cuba – we guys were so fortunate you went before us to pave the way. The photos really capture the daily life of Cuba. A great read!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jane! We loved all of your Cuba posts and photos also. You guys were so lucky to be able to spend a month there! We hope we can do likewise someday, unless our travel as US citizens gets restricted again (it’s looking likely – sigh).

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you! In Trinidad the pictures just took themselves. It was my favorite stop in Cuba.

  3. Your post about Trinidad is so vibrant and colorful, yet it makes me sad thinking that we may not be able to return as U.S. citizens again. What a treat to be invited to New Year’s dinner with your hosts. Cubans are lovely and resourceful people. I think their motto must be, ” Where there is a will, there is a way.” I wonder how Airbnb will be impacted if restrictions are again imposed on Cuba?
    We really enjoyed visiting quaint Trinidad. Thanks for taking us along on your Cuba trip.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I know, Debbie. I actually had a little paragraph about how sad it will be if the “current occupant of the White House” rolls back all of Pres. Obama’s reforms – and then decided to take it out. Until lately, we’ve always assumed we’d go back to Cuba and now we’re not so sure. It will be a loss for everyone – US citizens AND the Cuban people, IMO.

  4. Catherine Virgenock Reply

    I feel like.I was walking right behing you .. great.pics and narrative. Ordinary and special.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you! In Cuba, the ordinary really does seem special. We loved our visit there.

  5. Wow, what great photography. It’s damn near art! This blog does what a good travel blog should do; it made me want to go see for myself. Also, you’re doing what we want to do with byallmeanstravel, you’re focusing on people. Me gusta mucho! Mas por favor!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Gracias, mis amigas hermosos! I’ve always been a bit timid about taking pictures of people but I’m trying to get bolder 🙂

  6. Charles Wilsdorf Reply

    I knew you were a great writer, but never realized what a photographer you are as well. Great pics.

  7. Mary Lea (Mimi) Reply

    Beautiful and colorful pictures! We felt like we were traveling with you!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Mimi! We loved Cuba and it’s still big on our minds five months later.

  8. Such vibrant colors on a sunny day! I have this image in my mind of Trinidad being a very picturesque old town brimming with local people doing their daily activities. From your photos it looks like that is still largely true, which is nice to know. Tourism will definitely bring change, but I hope Trinidad won’t lose its old charm while modernizing itself.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Bama! Your description of Trinidad is spot on. There were more tourists than usual there because of the holidays, but the locals and their sense of community were what made the visit special for us. We wish the same for Trinidad and all of Cuba – there was much we saw that could be improved for the benefit of the people, but so much of it is unspoiled as well. Since the “present occupant” of the White House is likely to roll back Pres. Obama’s Cuba reforms, we may never have a chance to go back and see for ourselves (sadly).

      • I know some people who were able to travel to Cuba from Panama even before it was opened up from the US. Maybe that will still be possible in the future. We can hope. And, this administration won’t last forever (even if it feels like it)

  9. Wow, beautiful, thank you. The photos are fantastic. I’m so glad we all went to Cuba when we could. I was afraid we should just in case something changed, and now…. what a shame. It’s such a unique and beautiful place.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Kris! We loved your blog posts too. And yes, we feel very lucky to have gone when we did. We always thought we’d go back – there are so many amazing parts of Cuba that we haven’t seen yet. But it may not happen now. It makes us sad.

  10. Oh I totally get your first sentence! We’ve turned from clock watchers and weekend waiters in our former lives to wondering where the days, weeks and months go. (Were you worried about being bored in retirement too? 🙂 ) Your photos do a fantastic job of imparting the “flavor” of the Cuban city, Trinidad, and I love the vibrant colors of the restored and not-so-perfectly maintained buildings against the blue sky. And those cars! My favorite photo was of the Cuban couple enjoying their cigars. Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much, Anita! As I said, the pictures just took themselves in Trinidad. It was easily my favorite place (so far) in Cuba. Hopefully we’ll get to return someday. And those cigar smokers were real characters – when they saw me taking pictures they started hamming it up. I guess they’re used to tourists.

  11. Alan Wulzen Reply

    Thank you so much for your words and photos. We’re wanting to go there next year.

  12. John and Susan Pazera Reply

    Hi Alan! Thanks for visiting our blog. You really should try to get to Cuba soon. Lots of changes are afoot, for better or worse. Hope you and Caroline are well!

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