Why Trinidad Cuba is a UNESCO site
Trinidad is one of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage sites recognized for its “Outstanding Universal Value” (a category where Blonde hopes to eventually gain recognition). Trinidad was founded in the early 16th century in honor of the Holy Trinity, back when Spanish Catholics were running things and Fidel Castro wasn’t even the proverbial gleam in his parents’ eyes.
Trinidad, thanks to the sugar industry and slave labor, flourished from the late 18th century to the late 19th century. There’s a valley, the Valley de los Ingenios, where you can go see a living museum of the sugar industry but, alas, that wasn’t on our itinerary. That museum is one of the reasons Trinidad has its UNESCO status.
Another reason for Trinidad’s UNESCO recognition is because its buildings and public spaces have authentic forms, designs and building materials. (One thing about being a poor country is that no-one can afford to knock down old buildings and put up new ones.)
The single family homes that are common in Trinidad have kept it from developing the sense of overcrowding that you get in, say, Havana or Miami.
Trinidad is Cuba’s “City of Museums”
The Historical Museum has had more owners than Cher has had facelifts but somehow it (we’re going to lose the analogy to Cher here) has retained its looks. Originally commissioned by a sugar baron it later became a private mansion and then along came Fidel …. it’s a government building now.
The museum is smallish but charming and the guides take understandable pride in the art and possessions it contains.
There is a staircase you can climb (if you don’t mind steep stairs, treacherous turns and a lot of creaking wood) and get to the roof and see beautiful views of the city and the Caribbean. (Note to self: If return, don’t wear a dress again.)
Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba
Trinidad doesn’t have any shortage of tourist attractions. One of the most-visited is the Plaza Mayor which houses what we were told is the largest church in Cuba. My notes indicate there’s a very popular statue inside – Christ of the True Cross – and that it encountered transportation difficulties en route to the church possibly in the 18th century. Pretty sure it’s in there now.
Regular life in Trinidad
After we had absorbed as much culture and history as we could (for the time being) we spent some time in what seemed more like everyday Trinidad.
On the way to the El Dorado restaurant for lunch Blonde realized she was becoming way too blonde so stopped to buy a straw hat in one of the local markets that were set up on various side streets.
The El Dorado restaurant served very regrettable flat chicken and undrinkable wine (Blonde still hadn’t learned to only drink beer if in search of alcohol in Cuba). However, what it lacked in enjoyable food it made up for with a band that performed such Cuban classics as Hotel California.
On the way back to the bus we passed a man selling pastries that looked tempting but from which Blonde nobly abstained (because she isn’t really one for pasties).
In general the combination of heat, churches and bad wine would make Blonde want to head on out of town ASAP.
But Trinidad was so appealing that it was one place she left without feeling the tour did it justice in terms of the allocation of time there. After all, on the People to People tours that are the only option at this time for American tourists, we had to head on to our next cultural experience – a potter on the outskirts of town.
But the pretty colors of Trinidad, the charming and unexpected phenomenon of people carrying songbirds in cages and the friendly people left good memories.
As either P T Barnum or Walt Disney (this is disputed) said “Always leave them wanting more”.
FCC required disclosure because this is totally the kind of thing they should be spending their time on: Blonde received a discount on her Gate1Travel trip to Cuba. She appreciated the discount but it would have had to be a lot more for her to express any opinions other than her own so these are her own.