June 15, 2010
I arrived here in Trinidad a couple of days ago. Arriving in a small Latin American city on a Sunday is always misleading as you will not get an accurate sense of the town. Trinidad is written of as a colonial jewel. It comes highly recommended by both friends and fellow travelers.
I get off the bus and get high-jacked into a casa particular. Fine, its too hot to look for one that is listed in the book. They are all about the same price anyways. I walk around this colonial jewel that have gone to sleep in 1850 and have been asleep since. Wait, what country am I in? Mexico? Guatemala? Argentina? El Salvador? Nicaragua? Colombia? Oh that is right, this is Cuba. After a while, one colonial city simply start to look like another. The heat and the sameness makes me disenchanted and a little cynical.
Usually I am eager to hit the market the very next morning in any given town. Yet I have come to assume that Trinidad is not going to show me anything new, so I drag my feet until the second morning. In the mean time, I am a little bitter and grumpy and kinda want to go home.
The market is just outside the old colonial part of town. The outer edges are littered with Soviet style tenement apartments. The buildings are blocky, cement and uniform with an occasional horse tied to a tree outside. Now we are talking. This is real. Here is the influence of Cuba’s biggest patron until the USSR was no more. The market stalls are far from full and the market far from crowded. What is available for sale is pathetic. I see the scarcity that is described over and over again, the hardship of the embargo along with 51 years of revolution is evident. The shooting felt good. The act of returning to that which is fundamental, basic, elemental shifted my state of mind. In return, Trinidad showed me a part of herself that few travelers gets to see.
Return to the basic. So simple, yet we often forget. Make no assumptions, yet we do, all the time.
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