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Saturday 12 Apr 2008
Trinidad, Cuba



Markus and I went off on the tour bus early to catch the Valle de los Ingenios tour.

The tour took us first to the Manaca Iznaga which was a hacienda founded in 1750, and was purchased in 1795 by a slave-trafficker named Pedro Iznaga. There is a large 10 storey "Slave-tower" here that was purposely built so that Pedro could keep an eye on his slaves while they were out toiling in the fields.

Incidentally a strong history of slave-ownership is evident all through Trinidad's colonial museums as well, where I saw, among other things, a large iron clamp that was used to keep 4 slaves tied together. It's sad to think that Trinidad's wealth and beauty derived from such abuses.

One of the 'better' things that Spanish slave-traffickers did, over their British counterparts was that they didn't separate families or tribes. Rather entire families were kept on the same plantation and this helped the slaves in Cuba maintain their family history and musical culture much better than those in the USA (for example), which resulted in the strong Afro-Cuban music scene.
Another result was the creation of a uniquely Afro-Cuban slant on Christianity called Santeria. Santeria-related statues are visible all over the country in people's homes and can often be identified by the large, wide-eyed (and sometimes scary looking) characitures of various saints.

They still grow sugar cane out here so we got to sample a freshly-crushed sugar cane (through the very same machine used by the slaves), mixed with some rum (of course!). 'Twas delicious.

Next thing was to have lunch at another hacienda, this time a more low-key chicken farm (where the chickens roam freely among the dinner tables.. and sometimes jumping ON TOP of them while people are eating!), but with a trek or horse-ride through the country side as well. Myself, Markus and a Canadian chappie decided to do the horse-ride, which was great fun. I forgot how to make the horse run fast, at which point the guide would wack the horse's butt with his stick making it gallop ahead.. ouch.. sore arse (for me I mean!).


Got back to Trinidad and had a frickin HUGE lobster for dinner (check the photo). It was easily the size of a roast chicken and every bite was delicious, seasoned with delicate spices! Apparently Lazarro has a friend (a mason himself no doubt!) who gets these lobsters from a special hunting ground out to sea. I was so full by the end of it, I barely could eat breakfast the next day.

Fantastic value for 10 CUC (7 euro!)


I'd been tipped off that there was a major concert on that night in Trinidad for the current number one artist in Cuba: "Haila". It was not intended for tourists, but rather Cubans, and many locals seemed bemused when I mentioned I was going to the "big concert" tonight ... they assumed I meant the tourist-trap "Casa de la Musica".

As such, it was going to be cool mixing in with the locals and seeing a contemporary star. Myself and Markus went out and got tickets asap, and after an hour or so of waiting the concert finally began with Haila in all her breastful splendour and sultry salsa-esque (obviously) music!

The venue was packed with locals! And also many prostitutes, some of whom tried to get us interested, but we just ended up teasing them and salsa-d the rest of the night away. Great night!

Met a very interesting Italian photographer called Marco Ferraris who gave me some good tips on shooting people while remaining "invisible" ... (the next night I even saw him walking behind a group of musicians while they were on stage; none of them noticing him... smooth!)

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Perdido en Cuba de Fidel

Travel blog by peterforan

Swish antique

Swish antique

2 weeks in which I crap-dance salsa-stylee in my own inimitable way; terrorise the Cuban people after one-too-many mojitos and visit bars where they actually ENCOURAGE people to smoke cigars as big as your leg. If I get time I'll take in some culture..

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