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  • Writer's pictureGina Cho

Varadero to Trinidad (Cuba)


I tried to wake up early for the sunrise but I got home too late and snoozed my alarm. I spent all morning with the casa owners trying to get the money my family wired me. Turns out the money has to be in a Cuban's name for them to pick up on behalf of me. The money was in my name so the order was cancelled and I had budgeted well enough to cover meals and drinks for the rest of the trip.

Cuba made it very difficult for me. In Havana, I went to 3 Western Unions and they were all open but wouldn't open their doors for me and the Cuban family I knew. (My sister's ex boyfriends kind family). In Varadero, they kept turning me away to say the systems were down. We kept going back to the Western Union to check if they were functioning. A woman even grabbed us to turn back to let us know they were but when we arrived we were refused service. So I went to the beach.

I thought about meeting up with the friends the night before but I didn't want to put in the effort, especially with no WiFi, it was hard to plan when and where we could meet.

I didn’t go out at night to my despair because the Europeans were clubbing 15 min away and it’s a walk I didn’t want to take alone. The night before there were Cuban men standing 3 feet away trying to talk to me, interrupting my friends and I, clearly waiting for me to leave the bar. I don’t even want to think about what their plan was. 

The next morning, I woke up at 6 to catch the sunrise before heading to Trinidad.

I grabbed my bags, left 14 CUC on the table along with my book and headed out. Then a huge waft hit me. It smelled like the city was hosed down with kerosene. Twice over. La abuela told me they do this two times a day to kill the mosquitos. When we spoke before, the trucks came past us to wash down the ocean air with thick fumes. It cleared up shortly after and we laughed. This time I had my face stuffed in a spare shirt choosing to suffocate myself with lack of air than the smog for my 15 min walk. My eyes started hurting and I was feeling nauseous. I prayed that the bus stop was a closed room with AC but the fumes had settled in the building. The fumes were still a nuisance for the first two hours into the 6 hour ride. And I missed the sunrise on the beach. 

Driving into Trinidad I fell in love. The town is lined tightly with bright yet faded pastel colored concrete houses that are chipping away. And narrow cobble stone streets with motorbikes, shiny classic american cars and bicycles. You can hear the horses trot in the distance. Amidst the heat are locals in their slightly cooler living room watching tv waiting for the hot beaming sun to come down. 

I took a cab to the beach to beat the heat after walking a few blocks to get a sandwich. The water is brown like NJ and with thicker rougher sand. The water is warmer than Varadero. Later I have a five course dinner of rice, pork, potatoes, vegetables and bread with a fish dip on the beach watching the sunset. I eat it quickly as it’s a race with the flys swarming over it. 

I go downtown and it’s lively. Everyone is at the small center where the WiFi is. Strategically placed so all have to congregate to enjoy music, food and beers, helping the neighborhood economy. Later, I slept with the AC on but it barely whispered any cool air. 

In the morning I wake up early to explore downtown before the sun is too strong. It’s so much more beautiful. There are market places to buy souvenirs. A man almost convinced me to buy 10 cigars for 30 CUC but remembered what the german said, it’s probably fake or low quality. I go to 2 museums and an art gallery. I visit tiendas and watch a local band of old cuban men. One local got it right “hola, ¿coreana?” “¡sí!” 

I go back to the hostel to lay on the hammock listening to music and play with the puppy who jumps into my lap. I go for lunch at El Dorado next to the bus station. Lamb without rice. “Sin arroz por favor. Hay mucha comida, no puedo comer todo” 

Now I'm off to Havana for my last night.

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