We arrive at the tour office at 7:45. A couple from the Netherlands is also there: Merijn and Marie. We just get to exchange names as we get picked up on time by a taxi driver. The small talk has to continue in the oldtimer.
Refugio de Fauna – Laguna de Guanaroca –
We don’t drive that far – the nature reserve is just after the city limits. Somehow we seem to magically attract bad weather: It’s raining again. Although we are getting wet, we have some quite pleasant temperature today. Our guides seem to find the weather quite pleasant also. After an introduction round which is at first quite confusing for the guides (Merijn, Marie, Mario and… Frank) we get a whole load info while we head to the lagoon: We stop at many plants which Juan and Pedro explain to us.
Quite a lot of crabs have left their holes and crawl around. We also get to see some termites and some birds, which we have also seen at our birdwatching tour in Vinales – barely out of the city and you are right in nature here… Amazing. We stop at a hole. Pedro plucks a straw from the ground and puts it slowly in and then out again – just before the straw leaves the hole two spiderlegs charge out of the hole and try to grab it. There seem to be tarantulas also in Cuba – yet quite small ones…
Half an hour later we get into two boats and paddle to the center of the lake. We are sitting with Juan in the boat, who seems to be a real naturalist and has a very keen eye. Without him, we would have simply missed several birds among the trees. We get lots of information – also about life in Cuba in general .
Some water that got in the boat spills back and forth. But even if we were to keel over, we would probably not be able to get even more wet . It is raining cats and dogs right now. But having those high temperatures it is rather refreshing. We get to see some flocks of flamingos, but they get keep a safe distance from us as we get closer. Extremely shy birds… We arrived actually during the low season here and there should be about 150-200 flamingos in the lake… During high season (December-March) there should be over 5000. After about 45 minutes we have solid ground under our feet again and have a drink on the porch of the hut before we go back.
Since we are starting to get hungry, look for some small restaurant – you can get some delicious, self-made XXL Hamburguesas in the “Big Bang”. Yum! With a full stomach we make our way to the old port. Since the 19th century, Cienfuegos has been a center of the sugar industry.
Since sugar was one of the most important export goods in Cuba, the world’s largest sugarexport habour was built here. The tobacco industry and crab fishing are other important industries in the city. Even today there are still traces of industrialization here: The railroad rails at the freight port are going to the east of the city to the old station.
Strangely enough, there is an extreme break in the cityscape here: Corrugated iron huts seem to be common at this part of the city – although we do not feel uncomfortable in the area here, our walk in the rain must end… Having a look at the watch we realize that we have to hurry to catch the bus to Trinidad (We missed the 15:15 bus, but we can still take the one at 18:00). So off to our Casa, have a shower and then to the bus station . I’m not sure if it was necessary to get here an hour before departure, yet “better safe than sorry”.
About 1.5h after departing in Cienfuegos we reach Trinidad. I had already noted some interesting Casas Particulares for this city. Especially the “Casa Hospedaje Trinidad of Jesús Fernández Juviel & Inelda Ruiz Vázquez” seemed to have great reviews. We are the last ones to get off the bus – the Jinteros are already waiting. No chance. We are surrounded! Although we have already put on our backpacks, we cannot get further as everyone seeks our attention – A incomprehensible mash of words, from which I can just get “Amigo”, “Hostal” & “favorable”. Since a friendly “Gracias, pero ya tenemos un hostal” and later only a “No gracias” does not bear fruit, we simply try to leave the area – in the direction in which we believe the Plaza Major should be. We have to turn some corners until we get rid of the last jintero.
After a short time to find the way we make it to the said Casa – you can make out the house by having a look at the roof where the leaves of a mango tree are to be seen . We ring the bell and the landlord opens the door, but we don’t seem to have luck here: Unfortunately, there are no free rooms left for today – But he doesn’t intend to leave us like that of course! Jesús asks us to wait, puts on his shoes and leads us to a friend of his: We can stay for the same price at this place today and can rent a room at his place tomorrow. Cool. We can agree on that. The “Casa Calladares” which is owned by Lucy & Mirelys seems to be beautiful as well. We get a warm welcome here.