We were up early for our 7am pickup for our drive to Trinidad, Cubas third oldest settlement. We had decided to pay an extra couple of CUC to go in the minivan as it was supposed to shave 2 hours off the journey, and came with airconditioning. Unfortunately it was the first time our driver had been to Trinidad so he got lost! Although one of our detours wasnt helped by the fact that a local hotel owner had taken the sign away so that people would drive down the dead end road to his hotel! We ended up arriving in Trinidad at the same time as the bus and our driver tried to take us to a hostel he knew of, despite us telling him we already had somewhere we wanted to go. Cheeky! After getting himself thoroughly lost we ended up getting out and walking to the place Janna's friends had stayed at before and recommended to her. Unfortunately they were full but the lady of the house arranged for another casa up the road who had space for us all. While we were waiting for everything to be sorted out we noticed a big green fruit on the tree in their yard. It looked like an avocado but was about the size of our heads so we asked what it was and yep it was the biggest avocado I've ever seen in my life!

It was getting late in the afternoon and finally starting to get a bit cooler so we headed out to wander around the centre of town. Trinidad is beautiful. Its red-tiled roofs, pastel coloured buildings and laid-back atmosphere made it easy to understand why other tourists had recommended it to us. Founded in 1514 by a Spanish Explorer it was name a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. It felt like there was a real sense of community here, as is in much of Cuba, where the drivers all know each others names and wave at each other when driving along the roads. The kids are all outside playing something resembling either cricket or baseball in the street, using bottle tops for balls and sticks for bats, not bothered in the slightest that they dont have the right equipment. 
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A fierce game of dominoes!
After wandering along to the Casa de Cambio to get some more CUC, we stopped at a little hole in the wall fruit stand to buy a mango. When I told the man I only wanted one he tried to give it to me for free, but feeling like our travel karma was becoming imbalanced with the free bananas we had already enjoyed I insisted on giving him a peso for it which he accepted with a toothy grin. Meeting everyone back at the casa we all sat on the rooftop terrace, sipping yet more rum, enjoying the sunset over the city, before dinner was ready. The wind had been picking up and grey clouds were gathering which made us think that it was not looking good for a day at the beach tomorrow and when we woke it was much the same. Disappointed we decided to walk down to the bus station to reserve our seats for the bus to Santa Clara and pick up some water from the supermarket. 

Walking past a local bakery we spied locals coming out with big slabs of cake and Jane and Trygge stopped in to buy some. We had been laughing at an old man whose face was covered in cream icing but as soon as we took a bite we understood why - such hard cake to eat gracefully!

The sun finally decided to poke its head out from behind the clouds and so we headed back to the casa to get our stuff for the beach. Janne and Kylie were craving mangos so we stopped off to visit my man from the day before, who greeted me with a big smile and a handshake which was nice - I didn't think he would remember me! 

The lady at the casa organised a taxi to take us the 12km to Playa Ancon and we spent all afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, swimming and snorkelling. The Caribbean water is extremely salty which makes it really easy to float, but tastes extra nasty if you accidentally take a mouthful. Trinidad's beach is really long with white sand and locals walking the beach selling pizzas, fruit and drinks. Kylie, Janna and I shared a coco-loco and we all sipped on more delicious mojitos.

By the time we got back to the casa we were all ravishingly hungry so asked for dinner a bit earlier. Kylie ordered lobster which when it came out was HUGE and we all had food envy. Technically casa owners arent allowed to sell lobster or beef, as only official licensed government restaurants are allowed, but there is a thriving black market for it. I assume that the government must be turning a bit of a blind eye to it as it was on the menu everywhere we went. 
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Lobster!
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Semana Santa parade
Waking up the next morning to blue skys we were excited for another beach day. The casa seemed kind of dark and when we went to turn on the lights we found that there was a power outage. Apparently rolling outages are common place in Cuba but it was the first time we had experienced it. The second bit of news from the owner was that her casa was fully booked that night so we needed to move to another place just down the road. Trygge isnt a massive fan of the beach so he and Janne went off for a hike and Ty, Kylie and I headed back down for another day of relaxation. We did a bit of snorkelling and Ty found a couple of hermit crabs. He scared the crap out of me with one of them as I thought he was just showing me a pretty shell but when i grabbed it a claw jumped out at me!

Back at the casa for dinner we ordered the lobster Kylie had had the day before, and then headed out to see the famous Semana Santa (Easter) parade. The parade was supposed to start at 7.30 but running on Island time it was more like 8.15 by the time the procession emerged from the Cathedral. Carrying big shrines of Mary and Jesus hundreds of locals made their way through the streets singing and dancing. 

Next stop: Santa Clara
 





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