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Cuba (part 3): Trinidad

Spectacular, historic, amazing, musical, friendly, beautiful. Everything you need in Cuba is here.




Gorgeous Trinidad

Subjective advice for anyone coming to Cuba.... make Trinidad a priority over Havana.
My highlights, in terms of music, bands, nightlife,architecture, food, historic sites, people and (err) vibe, lie squarely in Trinidad.
Cuba is an amazing country, unlike any other and Trinidad is petite glistening jewel.

Every glance.... every corner, every street.... house, church, is picture worthy!
It's beautiful!

I almost feel guilty writing about it now, in fear of contributing to a mounting crowd of SLR toting hordes lacking self awareness, muddying this pristine example of aural and aesthetic utopia.
Yes, it's one of those places you want to protect... with a relatively small population (70,000 or so) it is very small, and dutifully protected by UNESCO Heritage.

Tourist infrastructure, music cafes, superb restaurants and bars are emerging everywhere, yet inconspicuous, blending with the town's ethos.

Gorgeous Streets

I booked a walking tour via the Cubatur office.

Being the only taker for the day, I had a private guide.
She walked me through all of the major historic sites, and explained Trinidad's controversial history as a wealthy slave trading port.
I was amazed at how well kept and relatively pristine the whole city is.
The cobblestone alleys, colourful frontages... and the familiar sound of rhumba rhythms and Salsa, everywhere.
Though, for the visual experience alone, Trinidad is amazing!


Amable Personas!

The folks of Trinidad, are happy, boisterous, outgoing and unassumingly superbly stylish.
I marvel at Cubans... they are not influenced by trends, etc of other countries... blissfully unaware that they eat western fashionistas for breakfast without trying... and the friendliest, happiest, artfully creative bunch I have observed thus far.

Trinidadians are curious about visitors. Keep in mind...we need them more than they need us ;-)


During my tour and beyond I learned a great deal about Santería.
When Africans were brought in as slaves they were forbidden to practice any of their homeland traditions.
Eventually they developed a hybrid blend of Yoruba mythology with Christian and Indigenous American traditions, formalised in Santería.

Here is Google's explanation
Santeria (Way of the Saints) is an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements added.
The religion is also known as La Regla Lucumi and the Rule of Osha. Santeria is a syncretic religion that grew out of the slave trade in Cuba.

I visited many gorgeous Santería churches in Trinidad.

The formal dress is all white, and looks magnificent.
I also saw the presence of Santaría in Cartagena, Colombia... more on that later


Local Magic

Cuba has a wealth of music options. Music is the national passion is very much in flight here.
I saw many bands at every scale and was duly impressed... mesmerised... everywhere.
What I like about Cuba again, is how unassumingly talented they are.

At a small rooftop cafe, where I was the sole patron, a young band was rehearsing.
The songs were solid yet whimsical, with a really interesting and subtle groove.
During their break, I spoke with the singer.
They write all of their own songs together, from rhythm up to lyrics and vocal melodies.
I watched them work through a new piece... their calm, inclusive and very technical nature of collaboration... progressing bar to bar was astounding.

After 30 minutes, they had two minutes of musical magic.

Casa de la Musica

Casa de la Musica sits at one of Trinidad's major squares at the top of a hill, overlooking the gorgeous town.

The venue is open air, and free to join in the fun.

Every night a schedule of bands/performers fill the evening which truly mesmerises.

Before the shows....

Locals and tourists alike packed in the the tiered area for a view of the acts and to dance.
This is a gorgeous, fun, festive and welcoming evening.... and was a highlight of my trip to Cuba!

Casa de la Trova

Outside the venue...
This small venue has a very homely and welcoming feel.

Band warming up in the afternoon...
The house band are incredible, and audience members are invited to take a clave to learn the rhythms participate in the rhumba!!
Some folks sat with their cocktails to really take in the band, whilst many danced in the lovely courtyard.


I passed by many, many other music venues in Trinidad that I will have to visit next time!!

Salsa love

What amazes me about Salsa is that it really, really plays with aspects of music; melody, tempo, cadence, emphasis, volume, rhythm... in very unique and skillful ways, largely absent in other forms.
It's the most dynamic form to listen to. I can listen to songs for hours and not get bored trying to dissect or simply marvel!
Seeing proficient Salsa musicians interact and work together is really something special!!


Lessons learned and advice...

I stayed at a hotel on the beach. In hindsight, winging it and looking for a Casa Particular would have been a much better option.
Advice for anyone going to Trinidad, Cuba.... avoid the beach at all costs and stay in Trinidad town... either at Iberostar, or a Casa Particular.

Further, with the beach hotels being so far from town, and taxis being expensive, you will eat through CUCs and time ferrying back and forth.

Thanks Trinidad!

Trinidad was absolutely a highlight of my time in Cuba, and highlight of this trip so far.
I can't wait to go back and explore, listen, dance and learn more there.

Posted by SkinnyFists 09:55 Archived in Cuba Tagged cuba playa trinidad salsa casa_de_la_musica

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