1 March 2010

Mex-CUBA trip

Wow, to say we had an amazing trip would be a huge understatement!!! All those tacos, tortas, churros, moles, tequilas & margharitas in Mexico City... the amazing murals of Diego Rivera which totally blew our minds... the markets... the mayhem...the total HUGENESS which is El DF. And that was only two days!!

Our arrival into Havana was magical... people on the streets, music, vintage cars, waves crashing over the Malecon. We were promptly duped into a big box of Cohiba cigars...yes they're authentic...but do we REALLY need that many??!! La Habana, as Don-Q said often, is truly the 'city of giants'. The architecture was huge, totally varied (Spanish, Moroccan, French, 50s American influences) & very aesthetically peeling, fading & crumbling. What an amazing place to explore- we moved very slowly with a photo-opportunity presenting itself literally every couple of steps!

After 2 hours spent simply trying to navigate the exit ramps out of Havana we hit the autopista...or rather, it hit us. An old Soviet project it was a 6 laned mega highway (though much potholed) which would abruptly turn into a dirt track riddled with goats, vultures & onion sellers!

Vinales, in the west, was quite simply cowboy country! Tractors, boys on horseback galloping through the streets, deep bucket hats, beautiful limestone magote mountains! Green & serene, it was a place of refuge during Caroline's darkest hours of giardia!! :-( We loved the local markets & were happily entertained by a local baseball match.

Ahhh... beautiful, coastal Cienfuegos was our next port of call. La Perla del sur (the Pearl of the South) was THE place to be for Valentines Day, where we admired the total BLING of local revellers strolling the sea wall, and serendipitously stumbled upon a' senior citz.' Valentines dance. Not a zimmer frame in site...these old Cubans know how to shake it!!! We dipped our feet in the Caribbean, drank mojitos in an old Moorish palace, visited the grave of a broken heart & caught an illegal horse & carriage through the back streets of the city!

Our arrival into Trinidad was somehow eerie. This is a city where time has stood still. Since the Spanish pulled out of the old capital little has changed. Streets are cobbled. Houses are shrines to colonial times. We felt the breath of spirits here & a tangible voodoo presence. We did catch some great music & felt shamed by the rhythm & groove that pulses through the veins of all Cubans.

Back in Havana we explored galleries & museums & indulged ourselves stupendously at the Museo de Chocolate. We queued to eat Coppelia icecream & caught a wild cabaret show at the iconic mafia haunt of the Hotel Nacional. I have never witnessed such OTT costumes, or such perfect bottoms!! All washed down with pina coladas, it was a fitting end to our Cuban odyssey.