Rolling into the crumbling small town of Trinidad there was a sense of calm and possibilities. Whilst Trinidad, Cuba, is a major stop on the tourist trail and a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is considered a small town by the local government. We found resources stretched the most here then our other stops. Speaking with a local tourist agent many of the people who work in jobs that expose them to tourists have had their salaries reduced to around 14CUC a month. This is because there is an expectation that the workers get tips from the tourists. There is a lot of pressure on the townfolk as this thinking doesn’t take into account the rapid increase in food costs due to the tourists ability to pay more. A local simply can not afford to pay 1CUC for one mango.
Trinidad was the only place that I was asked for gifts as I walked around the streets taking photos. I had come prepared with a stash of basic pens and they were well received. Other items that are appreciated are small soaps, moisturiser and sweets as all are often scarce in terms of government supplies. There are Canadians who regularly visit the area who deliberately bring summer clothing they have collected in sales, nappies which are hard to source and medical supplies like bandages and disposable needles. If you are interested in helping this way find a local doctor who will ensure the supplies go to families in need.
There are plenty of things to do from Trinidad. One of my friends took the local bus to the nearby beach and floated his afternoon away on a catamaran. I went with another friend to the national park and swam in a cool and crisp waterfall after a two hour hike. It is also possible to go on tours about the factories and local historic coffee farms.
We booked Hostel/Casa Victor a couple of days before we arrived. Note we were told that Trinidad is no longer easy to just turn up and wander into a Casa especially as in the peak season demand outstrips supply. Last year tourists ended up sleeping in the park!
For eating avoid the main square which has all the tourist restaurants charging double the price for less fresh food. Try La Redaccion where the owners children have successfully brought their European experience to the Cuban menu making the most of the limited produce available. There are a few other good restaurants on this same street that I forgot to write down!
Once you have eaten head to the the main square for some salsa dancing. This is the place I did dance with locals with my poor salsa skills. No one cared about my stumbling feet and everyone was having a great time! If you don’t want to join in you can just bop away and have a mojito for 2CUC!