Saint Patrick’s Day in Cuba
It was mid afternoon and approximately 32 degrees and I was hot. The kind of hot where all your clothes start to stick to you. I was walking through a side street in the city of Trinidad in Cuba on St Patrick’s Day when I heard something. I had to do a sort of double take and replay it in my mind to make sure I heard it correctly the first time. I was right, someone had just called me a gringo. I looked around and found the culprit wearing a big smile on her face. “Hola”, I shouted across the street and “hola” came the reply with a laugh. I was about to continue on my walk through the streets but for some reason I decided to go over and talk to her. What an awesome decision that turned out to be!
I jump up onto a wall and in a combination of English, Spanish and the help of a translation app we have a chat about the usual topics:
- Where are you from?
- How long are you in Cuba for?
- What do you think of Cuba?
- Where are you going next?
I discovered that my new friend worked at a nearby bar / restaurant and was convinced that she made the best Mojitos in Trinidad so decided to go along and try. I spent the next couple of hours sipping Mojitos and possibly a Canchanchara or two, a cocktail made with honey, lemon and Aguardiente. I wouldn’t advise too many of them unless you want to be horizontal.
We discussed, with the help of more translation apps, my plan to quit working and to travel the world, starting by ‘moving’ to Buenos Aires on a one way flight. I was gently mocked for my awful Spanish but I am starting a class at the end of September so hopefully I wont be completely clueless next year.
My new friend told me that she was working later that evening and that I should come back later if I was free. I said I would think about it depending on how dinner at my casa goes. It was time for me to pay and go but I was only asked to pay for one of the drinks. The others were on the house. Despite my best efforts, I only paid for one drink and said my farewells to go back to my casa.
Music and Dancing
With a large, and I mean LARGE, dinner inside me courtesy of my casa hosts, I went back into the centre of Trinidad. I returned to Casa de la Musica because I had a great time there on the previous night but decided to leave shortly after. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but it was my last night in Trinidad and I wanted to explore other places too. After turning a corner I could hear some music so I found where it was coming from and went in and had a drink.
I have been trying to remember the name of this place but for the life of me I can’t. I think it might have had a guitar logo on the outside but the name escapes me. I sat here and listened to the music, just enjoying the atmosphere. It really is true, Cubans love their music. And dancing of course. And boy can they dance. I saw a man of about 40-50 salsa dancing non stop for about half an hour, practically grabbing people off their seats and as they walked passed him. No-one seemed to care because they were having a great time. He even danced with three people at the same time. I took a look at my watch and decided to go looking for my friend again.
More New Friends
I returned to the same bar as earlier, expecting my friend to have finished work and gone home. When I arrived, she was still there but had been joined by her husband and two other friends she had made recently. Where in the world where these two people from? Buenos Aires! My soon to be new home. What are the chances of that?! We took the short walk to Casa de la Musica, where it was decided that a litre of rum was a good idea (isn’t it always at the start of the night!?). I hadn’t noticed it on my previous visits but at the very top of the steps there is a club venue which we got into for free, with the bottle of rum in hand!
The next 4 hours were spent drinking rum, being taught how to salsa dance and talking about travel plans with 4 people who, prior to that day, I had never met. Don’t you just love it when you meet people randomly and have a great time? It was an awesome way to spend my last night in Trinidad, all down to me walking over to someone that called me a gringo 🙂
As we bid farewell to each other, a couple of problems came to my mind:
1. It was nearly 3AM and I had to find my way to my casa in the very dark streets of Trinidad
2. I had to get up at 7AM to go hiking in Topes de Collantes – whose idea was the rum again?