Friday, May 2, 2014


As much as I love being on the road, it can become so mentally and emotionally taxing that you can lose sight of why you were there in the first place. The thrilling highs of travel can be followed by plummets in turn, and by the end of my time in Trinidad, I felt pretty burned out. Dreading a long bus ride, I decided to chop up the commute back to Havana by spending a day in Cienfuegos – a city of note for being France's only colony on the island, resulting in architecture and urban design markedly different than elsewhere in Cuba.

I was tired of the way I was going through my dwindling dollars, tired of the sores I walked into the soles of my feet, and tired of saying no, no, no. No to people trying to get me to stay in their casas, no to optimistic tour guides, and no to persistent panhandlers (apparently a newer thing in Cuba). The noes hung on me heavily.

Time is your greatest commodity when traveling, and as briefly bitter as I was, I still didn't intend on wasting any of my precious time and made myself hit the town.

Cienfuegos is really a lovely city – and surprisingly devoid of tourists considering what it offers and its geographic position between Trinidad and Havana.

The neighborhoods emanating around the main square best showcase the elements that make the city distinct: gentle pastels, elegant wrought iron, and repetitive colonnades.

Being on the water, a long malecon teems with traffic and leisurely locals – at the first end of it I found a boxing camp for young boys. It stretches southward from the city center to an unlikely seeming cluster of pre-revolution mansions and luxury hotels, decadent relics from a much different world. There were yacht clubs and tennis courts full of affluent Cubans, driving me wild with curiosity about how such class divides can exist in a communist society (I recall Brian and I seeing a yellow Audi convertible blazing through Havana without tourist plates).

I was getting shaggy so I ducked into a warehouse sized barbershop with a doodle of what I'd like my haircut to look like. I had dinner in a place that served sugar alongside its juice – in case the juice wasn't sweet enough. I went to bed early enough tot catch a shared ride in a colectivo in the morning.

No comments: