Trip Start Sep 08, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

4 October 2008 - Saturday

We were picked up at 9am in a horse taxi to head up to Topo Callantes waterfalls. These Cubans are so cheeky though as we had agreed on a $30 for the trip and the horse taxi was demanding an additional $1 each for the taxi ride. You just don't really know when you're being ripped off or not. And unfortunately feel so sorry for everyone that you don't really query $1... Problem also is that it's difficult to argue your case when you have a limited spanish vocabulary. I guess the lesson learnt is that you should clarify the cost not only with the person you've arranged it with but also the person being paid. Everyone's trying to make a quick but out of you. All tourist are money making machines...

Anyways, an hour or so after heading down a very rocky trail, through some farms, having the horses wade knee deep through some mud and streams, we arrived a a hanging bridge. On reaching the other side we paid our $6.50 each for the waterfall, and then instructed to be back for the horses by 1pm. We were finally left alone to continue our 3km hike to the falls. This wasn't the easiest though as even the rocks felt like they were covered in a layer of slime. Everything was so slippery. The hike was definitely worth it in the end. The waterfalls were beautiful. Thankfully we'd brought our bikinis with us as we were soaked through from the humidity and the hike and the water was perfect for a swim. I swam around to the back of the falls finding a bit of a bat cave.

An hour or so later we headed off back to meet with our horseman. We headed back to Trinidad on the same path, all the while our guide is slapping our horses on the ass to make them go faster despite me requesting him not to. We weren't in this trip for the speed thereof so I wasn't quite impressed with him. A shower later, I was again refreshed but this time with a very tender ass. The rest of the evening was spent at the casa enjoying some Cuba Libres and chatting to Carlos our 'landlord'...

5 October 2008 - Sunday

We found a coco taxi on Marceo road and headed back down to Playa Ancon. It took ages to get there but the ride was well worth it. The motorbike cut out a few times due to flooding but our driver managed to get it started each time again.

The beach was much more pleasurable this time around as we'd learnt a few lessons from our earlier experiences. We weren't harrassed too much and thus happily spent the day in the sade of the palm tree... occassionally dipping into the water to cool off. Though the water wasn't exactly all that much cooler than the air. Nix unfortunately managed to get herself stung by a jellyfish within the first few minutes in the water.

At 5pm we again caught the staff bus back to Trinidad. We almost felt local knowing that it would arrive in a few minutes time. Once back in Trinidad, we couldn't resist buying some peso breads and buns along the way, mauling them in next to no time.

After lazing around drinking cuba Libres and shmoking a cigar we headed to the Trinidad Colonial restaurant for supper. As the name suggests, it is very colonial looking with very high celings and tall cupboards in the corners filled with white china. Though a very grand looking, the menu didn't seem exhorbitantly pricy. We soon found out why... Nix ordered something which was meant to includ shrimp tuna, mayo, oranges, mushrooms, potatoes and tomoto marmalade... However, it was missing much of it's contents, and the yummy tomato marmalade turned out to be tomato sauce/ketchup. Our wine wasmore vinegar tasting that any wine I'd ever had. Although ordered, we didn't get a single smile from any of the waiters either. I guess I do sound like a bit of a snob, but when you're constantly being offered one thing and getting another, it does becoming somewhat annoying... Guess I should look at it as a lucky packet surprise!!!

A few photos in the main square and we called it a day.

6 October 2008 - Monday

So our time in Trinidad was coming to an end. As we started packing our bags we realised we were trying to squeeze in much more than they were designed to handle, but amazingly despite the bag's objections and bulging at the seems, they still somehow managed to zip up after a full load. Being in Cuba we were no longer living in hiking boots, jeans and tracksuit tops so all
the bulky stuff was taking up heaps of space. In fact, I hadn't even looked at my warm clothing since Peru. Despite not really needing them we couldn't exactly chuck them all out. Provisioning in the far off chance of an ice age. However, we didn't have much choice but to leave some of our 'less needed' stuff with Carlos to create just a little bit of space.

On our way out of the casa, Carlos' mother sat us down to show us her sister's tablecloths in the hope of eliciting a sale out of us. Nix had already purchased a tablecloth and as we really had paid our dues at their casa, we didn't feel too bad saying no.

At Cubatur we reserved our Viazul bus tickets to Santa Clara (a bargain at CUC8 each) for 15:30 that afternoon. We asked the lady to book us in at Campismo Arco Iris but as Cubatur didn't have any deals with this place, she was unable to help. Not perturbed we decided that we'd wing it on arrival in the thought that such a place wouldn't be fully booked on a Monday.

We stepped out of Cubatur to browse through a cigar shop across the road and get an idea of what cigars go for, and also just to try and get a vague idea of what one should be buying if you had to be in the 'cigar business'. On the way in, a woman desperately tried to get our attention to sell us her cigars instead... or even a horse ride... or what about dinner at some place... We tried our polite 'no gracias'  and continued into the shop for some objective and hassle free advice. On leaving the shop, our toothless old lady was still there and now having seen us go into the cigar shop insisted we come and have a look at her cigars. Despite our 'no gracias' and getting worked up, she had no intention of leaving us alone... 'Only looking' she says, 'only looking'. Eventually we succumbed, but only looking we insisted. She agreed and hastily led the way up past Plaza Mayor and to a street just behind our casa. A few cautious glances to the left and the right and we were shuffled into someone's home. Boxes of cigars were laid out on a children's bed. All 'kept cool' under a running fan. In the corner of the room was a cot, for one of the men's daughters we soon learned. In the room with Nix and myself was our shady toothless lady, a guy with a golden tooth and a guy looking like a Colombian drug lord with a dark, curly ponytail, and another guy who just too a huge liking to Nix. After running us through their prices
and making every effort to convince us of their cigars' authenticity, we spent some time discussing THE DEAL. Half an hour later we told them we'd be back as we need to think about it. The cost of the cigars were so much cheaper than in the official cigar shops.

Back at our casa, we both voiced our concerns of whether we'd actually be able to take the cigars out of the country. Our experience in getting in was hard enough and this was without any cigars on board. Additionally, we would hate to have bought these cigars in Cuba as gifts only to have them conviscated. Silly maybe, but I really wanted to buy Cuban cigars in Cuba. My concern wasn't really the risk of losing out on the money spent on them in the event customs decided to hold onto them. The solution to our problem, we thought, was to chat to someone with an unbiased opinion.

Though Carlos' opinion would've been great, the language barrier was somewhat of a problem so instead we head with Carslos to Rafaels' house taking with us the remainder of our Havana Club rum. A hello later we handed him the bottle and he disappeared to his kitchen for a few minutes. He came out carrying small cups for each of us containing what he calls Canchara (consists of honey, lemon juice, water and 40% alcohol while Havana Club rum). This was one very, very strong drink. Rafael then went on to relate the history of the drink of how during times of war, soldiers were given about two or three of these to give them 'bravery' and to make them feel 'strong'. One of these later and I was well on my way to joining the rest of the Cuban army!! Rafael did allay our fears saying that we'd be fine getting about 25 cigars each through customs and that no receipt would be necessary - just what we wanted to hear!!

We then walked down to town to have an ice cream. It wasn't long before shady toothless lady had hunted us down and again led us back to The Cigar Room. 71 cigars and about a $100 later we were ready to leave with our newly acquired purchases in hand. Kisses all round to seal the deal as though we'd all been friends for YEARS!!! Shady toothless lady also managed to wangle one of my hooded tracksuit tops out of me (I couldn't understand why you'd want that in this heat and humidity so wasn't too sad to see it go). She was ecstatic about it, so at least she scored something out of the deal. More space in my backpack for  the newly acquired goods.
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