Colourful Cuba indeed! The people, the scenery, the buildings, the music and (even for someone who can usually only describe cars by their colour!) the wonderful old American cars! How to describe a holiday where we experienced the breathtaking limestone pillars in the Valley of Viñales, the tropical forests of Baracoa, the wonderful old towns, the music in the Casas de la Trova (Troubadours’ Houses) and the charming, resilient and resourceful Cuban people?
It’s a close contest between Baracoa, Trinidad and Havana Vieja but in the end I think that the high point of our holiday has to be the second day in Trinidad. We had a breezy ride up to the Sierra d’Escambray mountains in two old Russian army trucks. After a tour of the coffee museum, where our local guide Jack explained the arcane details of coffee-growing and we sampled the local brew, we walked along the Sendero La Alfrombra Magica (Magic Carpet Path): crossing a swaying bridge made of logs, entering a huge cave, admiring the air-plants, orchids and tree ferns, and seeing more of the beautiful local birds.
Then an exciting descent to Trinidad in the army trucks while the petrol-heads in the group raved on about (I think) the lack of syncro-mesh in the lower gears and the need for double-declutching! In the evening some of us went down to the town again for more music.
As we went into the Casa de la Trova, two of us were hugged by an elderly man, who was dazzling in white and who insisted on dancing with both of us. I asked the other person whether he had met the man the previous night, only to be told ‘I’ve never seen him before in my life!’ We then spent the rest of the evening sipping our mojitos, enjoying the music and watching the dancing – including our erstwhile friend, who showed just what he could do when he found more talented partners! Sadly, we dragged ourselves away and made our way through the old town back to our hotel. Further treats were in store as we were off to Havana in the morning.
Our heartfelt thanks go to our leader Alf, our Cuban guide Santos and our three local guides, who between them ensured that it was altogether a truly memorable holiday.