Thursday, January 21, 2016


so by this time you have been eagerly awaiting Trinidad I am sure LOL- because it is getting close to one month since we returned from Cuba and the delay in getting the posts up has been extraordinarily long.  two reasons- first and foremost - life gets in the way... I am a retired person and I am busy not working LOL and second there were roughly 4000 photos from the trip and it really does take a long time to get through them and delete the more than 2/3 that I don't like, won't use, are out of focus etc... so lame as those excuses may be (or not LOL) on we go...

oh no- not exactly- because first I made a collage of the wood carvings of an artist we visited in his home and studio- he is headed to NYC for a show at a gallery there and his works sell for up to $10,000. The carvings are done out of reclaimed wooden doors so many of them have natural framing as part of the materials the artist works with.  He takes photos of local people and then uses the photos for the process of carving the wood. I just wanted to show you the magnificent work he is doing - and gaining an international reputation for as well!

now -back to our arrival- here is a photo of Trinidad from the front sidewalk of our hotel-

you can see the mountains in the background... and just to compare with the last trip I am throwing in a photo from my last trip- LOL-

in the four intervening years there are a few changes of building colors but the green and white striped awning in the upper right is still there and the pink building has stayed the same color combo... so there are things that have stayed the same - but more than any place else on the trip - Trinidad has changed... in 2012 there were no boutique style shops, a few straw animal souvenirs sold on the sidewalk and only one "store" in the museum where you could buy things like magnets and post cards. Now the old town area has plenty of "crap" to buy (if that is what you are seeking.)

and you can even get your nails done on some one's front porch salon -

I guess that is some kind of progress - but I also wonder if the things that make Cuba unique are heading out the door as the new more open economic policies come in. This is a difficult issue because no one wants to see the Cuban people suffer the poverty they have suffered for decades but turning them into yet another consumer state may end the very thing that makes them unique in the whole world. If you remember prior posts- Creativity is every Cuban's middle name.  What happens to that ingenuity and creativity when things are no longer scarce or unavailable? We obviously do not know the answer yet.  However, the pace of change in Trinidad is enough to comment on it.  Last time we had a dearth of private restaurants to choose from - now there are many more options... last time the museum had souvenirs and gift items for sale, now a dozen or more shops line the streets of old town...  Just something to ponder.

Our first stop was lunch a the hotel- just sandwiches but we did have the welcome drink and a cool towel (a la Thailand) and some music to go with lunch - LOL - of course CDs were on offer. We had already gotten to the point where we just gave them tips rather than buy more STUFF... which we certainly do not need given that we are in downsizing mode...

Then we went off to the basket weaving factory - where it was the end of the year and the factory had made "enough" so they came in mostly to just be there so we could see the people who worked there and one manager told us how the people are paid and what is expected of them and how they make ends meet given the "salary" the government pays them won't cover their monthly expenses (most of them wave baskets on the side at home to sell for hard cash)

clearly a perfect example of "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work..."  Last time I visited the exact same factory and there were a few people working there- but even then I would hardly call it a hub of activity but I think now that is because people come and go on their own schedules - but the above photo is the crew "at work" on the day we arrived in late December versus the early April crew from my last visit-

after the time in the "factory" we went back to the hotel- Raul is savvy about the inordinately high temperatures and decides not to tax us in the late afternoon and the highest heat of the day...

the next day we are up and out while the cool of the morning (relative cool) keeps us from wilting- LOL

our first stop the neighborhood ration store-

the people who "worked" in the ration store-  as you can see there isn't much there to "sell"-

the ratio booklet - one for each household listing who lives in the house and their ages-

some scenes from the streets outside-

then we went to visit the house of a family - someone that I had met before - unfortunately the grandfather inventor had died last year - but his legacy still lives on in his home (now passed down to his son and daughter - who disagree with what to do with the property - the location is valuable but the space and potential for renovations limited due to it being within the UNESCO boundaries)

the TV set was a defining moment for me during the last trip- the necessity of making due with so little in the way of material resources and the creativity and imagination and ingenuity with which the Cubans address their needs just astounded me... and still does.

more photos of some of the rest of the house-

above- a bedroom and below - some of the kitchen and bath

then we visited the artist home (the one who did the wood carvings) - it too was in the old section of town but it had been renovated extensively and the front room was now a gallery for the artist's work. They left intact the ghost of the painted borders-

Eric sits down and the fish wonders what happened to his arm (recent surgery)

and I will re-post the work of the artist- all of these carvings were in the studio in the front room of his home.

then off to the main plaza for a quick briefing on the choices for "lunch on your own" and we head off- below- Raul gives us directions to several local options-

the plaza area-

the inside of the cathedral-

I did not see this until I was working with the photos but there was apparently a more decorated version of the church under all the white it currently wears- this was only on one corner behind the altar- not even on the opposite corner to give symmetry LOL

Still a few days before Christmas and awaiting the baby Jesus in the manger..

Then lunch on our own...  the food took a really long time to come and was HUGE! but we were so rushed to eat and pay when it finally got there that I have only photos of the waiting time- LOL

Then we met up with the bus and headed to the ceramics artist's studio- not much to my taste there so I just hung out in the garden- and although we were the only group there when we entered within about twenty minutes there were four other groups added - which of course made me want to run out of the place screaming - I HATE crowds...

the next day I finally get to go to the mountains - and what a lovely respite from the heat that was! so stay tuned!

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