we started our first day in trinidad with a talk from a local city architect at our hotel. since trinidad is a huge tourist destination, we listened to the architect's opinion on needs of the city in order to accommodate the level of demand. when the city was first named a UNESCO heritage site in 1988, there were only two hotels. now there are six hotels but water and other resources continue to be tight compared to tourist demand.
we then took a walking tour of the square area with the architect and after the organized tour, we all went our separate ways to explore the city. many people visited the large church in the middle of the square. mom and I stumbled upon an open air market, did some shopping and topped off our purchases with a round of mojitos!
the sights of trinidad square
we talked with many of the shop owners, some spoke in spanish and some in english. one shop keeper we met had on a wide brimmed straw hat that was really cool, a cuban flag with the image of che. I complimented his hat and he took it off and told me to take a photo with it. the brim was lined in sweat, but when in cuba... I put that hat on and snapped a photo! such friendly people.
next we wandered over to a textiles shop, I decided I needed to buy a table cloth or table runner in order to recreate my obsession with cuban table settings at home. the table cloths were too overwhelmingly stark for a contemporary home so I went for the table runner idea. the lady of the shop had two beautiful panels that were separate - she said she would hand sew them together for me on the spot to make a runner! how could I say no? we chatted with her for some time in spanish until the conversation started getting above my comprehension level, she said that times had been very difficult in the past and that it's not the fault of the embargo; however, already with american tourism, things are getting better. she finished up my table runner and we hugged goodbye.
we continued to shop around the market, picking up a college laundry bag for my sister that was made of the same fabric as the children's uniforms below, wooden serving utensils, and wooden dominoes. I bought stephen a hat and mom found a reversible stone necklace that was really pretty. after spending our fare share of CUCs, we plopped down at a local bar for $3 mojitos before joining the rest of the group for lunch.
the owner hand sewing my table runner
sweet school children holding hands
the group walked over to paladar san jose for some lunch - the décor was modern and funky. we dined on beans, rice, shrimp, lobster, brushetta, I also may or may not have ordered papas fritas [ahem, french fries]. we all got a kick out of going to the bathrooms, below.
after lunch, we continued to walk the streets and found the most gorgeous pottery and art studio. it was a family business, the artist's brother and parents were in the studio working and helping customers. the shop displayed some pretty moving art pieces and we asked for explanations of a few pieces. my mom's favorite featured a saying in spanish "free healthcare comes at a great cost to cubans."
I immediately found a black and white textured vase, the only one, and bought it. we chatted with the family for a bit longer and decided to head back to the hotel. while the rest of the group took the bus to the beach, mom and I took a nap that we didn't regret. naps are such a rare and wonderful occurrence.
we awoke from our slumber and planned to venture to the square for dinner and live music but the looming dark clouds made us reconsider. the thought of walking on wet cobblestone in torrential rain was not exciting.
we decided to check out the hotel bar which happened to be featuring a live band! we ordered a few glasses of wine and several other people from our group joined us for conversation. although it never actually rained that night, we enjoyed our low key evening with great music and great company.
read more by clicking here! day 6 back in havana....