After going to bed at midnight last night, I was up bright and early at 7:30 this morning.

As with yesterday, I didn’t really have much planned for today.

The truth is, there are a couple of day trips I could have done from here but I decided to just pass on them.

One was a trip to a beach and I’m really not a beach guy.   Ugh, hot, sweaty and sand everywhere – no thanks.

The other was a horseback riding trip through a valley to see some more waterfalls.

Yeah, kinda done that stuff already.

So, here I am.   In Trinidad.   Without a plan.

And, you know what, it’s all good.

The streets of Trinidad

At just after 9am I left the casa to head out to breakfast.

I had woken up to a sound I had yet to hear here in Cuba, howling winds.   By the time I left, the winds had died down but it was still windy enough to mask the heat from the sun and make it a pleasant walk down the streets.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to walk the streets of Trinidad.   You walk through haphazardly organized streets that you have to zigzag through to get into the center of town.

The streets are all mostly either dirt or cobblestone and you have to watch where you walk, especially in the dark, as you have to dodge the puddles in the ground along with the garbage and poop from the dogs and horses.

There are many people just sitting outside their homes on their front step either escaping the heat from inside or tending to their little shop they’ve set out to sell products to earn money, any money, they can.

There are also some roads that have garbage all strewn about from dogs tearing open garbage bags desperately searching for food.   Alot of the dogs are so sickly skinny that it just breaks you heart.

In the midst of it all, though, you see kids doing what kids do – running around in their bare feet, playing games and, well, just being kids.

Exchanging pesos

Anyway, I took my usual zigzag path into the center of the city which I passed by a man in a cowboy hat.

He looked me up and down as I was approaching and I was waiting for the inevitable sales pitch to go for a ride on his horse and carriage around town.

And then I heard those magic words…

Buy pesos?

It’s ironic here in Cuba because, when you’re traveling, your first nature is to just walk by people who are either offering services or begging.   When it comes to exchanging US dollars for pesos, however, you are actually happy to come across them.

The whole financial system here is quite fascinating but the base of it is that most things are sold in pesos and the only way you can get pesos is by bringing US dollars or Euros with you here to Cuba and then exchanging them for pesos.

The interesting thing about it all is that the exchange happens not through the banks but through people on the street.

The banks will only give you the “official” rate of 120 pesos to $1 whereas the exchange rate on the street is anywhere from 240 to 270 pesos.

Anyway, that’s just the bare base of the economic system here in Cuba.   There’s other intricacies that I’ll delve into on my recap blog at the end of this trip.

So, where was I?

Oh yeah, the dude was selling pesos.

I turned around and asked him what his exchange rate was.   I’ve pretty much been getting 250 my entire trip except for a couple times where I got 220 and 240.

My guy here was offering 270.

Well, well, well.

This is an offer I certainly can’t refuse.

I’m not quite sure why the rate is higher.   I saw someone the other day on the sidewalk with a sign saying 265.   Maybe it’s just a different rate here in Trinidad or maybe the continuing inflation has actually changed the rate in the short time I’ve been here.

Regardless, I bought 27,000 worth of pesos for my last $100 and quietly folded them up into an envelope I had inside my backpack.

Sweet, that exchange just netted me a 2000 peso ($8) difference on the exchange.

Just need to do that a few more times to make up for the ridiculous exchange I got at the Cadeca yesterday.

By the way, as a side note, when I first arrived in Cuba I was pretty worried about the whole “exchanging cash on the streets” thing.   I was worried about someone just taking my money as running off or someone short changing me or even someone giving me counterfeit bills.

Well, for anyone out there worried about it, let me put you at ease.

Exchanging money on the street is so commonplace here in Cuba that it’s actually strange when you go out and someone doesn’t offer you that service.

I’ve now exchanged money almost a dozen times and have not had any problems as all so take that as you will.

Breakfast, deja vu

As I promised myself yesterday, I ended up at the same restaurant, Adita Café, this morning as I had yesterday.

Their meal combo was just too good a deal to pass up.

I sat at the exact same table and my waiter recognized me.   Without even having to utter nary a word, he knew what I wanted and placed my order for me.

To start, some pineapple juice and a café con leche.

Okay, I’m not a coffee drinker at all but can someone out there please tell me how the hell you drink your coffee without burning your tounge?

Seriously.   Every damn time.   What am I missing?

Anyway, soon after came my fruit plate of papayas, guavas, and pineapples.

Next was my breakfast plate of eggs, bacon and chorizo sausage.

There’s also toast included but, of course, I passed on it.   I also found out there’s a pastry that comes afterwards as well but, again, I had to pass.

All told with a nice little tip, the bill was 2200 pesos ($9).

I’m telling you – best breakfast in town.

Up the bell tower

I had read online that the best view of the city was from the bell tower in the Convento San Francisco de Asis church so I figured, hey, why not.

I paid my 50 pesos (a whopping 20 cents) and entered the building climbing the stairs to the top.

The bell tower isn’t actually that high up, but because there’s really no building higher than 1 or 2 levels, it was high enough to be able to see the entire town from above.

As I approached the middle part of the tower I came across a half dozen others but happily they were on their way down leaving the whole tower to myself.


I climbed all the way to the tippy top where, let me tell you, you really felt that wind that was swirling around the city.

I don’t know man, there’s just something about seeing a city from above that just makes you smile.

Romance Museum

Just down the street were a handful of museums.

This area actually used to be where the affluent residents of the city lived.   In fact, it’s because of them that this whole side of town still has the fancy cobblestone streets.

Now the buildings around the Plaza Mayor have all been repurposed as museums.

How they got repurposed though, is an interesting story.

Back in 1929 as the stock markets were crashing and the great depression was happening, the wealthy residents left the country with a promise to return in a year or two.

In the meantime, they left their houses to be tended to by their servants.

Well, time passed and they never did return and the servants, well, they just kept living in the houses.

Even after a couple generations, the servants kids and then their kids all lived in the houses.

The families lived there for decades but because they were never the actual home owners, the government one day years later decided to appropriate their houses and kick them out.

And then, they turned them into museums.

Like I told you in earlier blogs, there’s so many stories to be told about life here in Cuba and that’s just one of them that I came across.

Anyway, about those museums…

I’m not much of a museum guy.

Usually I just pop in there, snap some photos of anything that I think looks cool, and be on my way.

I know some people will stay hours in them absorbing everything, but for me, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Having said that, I had time today so I figured why not go into a museum.

Specifically, the Romance Museum.

I mean, come on, how could I not?

By the way, spoiler alert, not a bunch of stuff doing with kissing and such.   I tell ya, such clickbait!

Despite that, I paid the 120 pesos (50 cents) to enter.

I walked up the stairs to see the rooms in this mansion from the 1700s.

Actually quite fascinating to see all the old rooms complete with china cabinets, old cookware, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

I’m pretty sure I was the only solo traveler there as I was smack dab in between two huge tours groups of a couple dozen people each.

They all had their little name tags on and they just followed each other around like lemmings.

I’m sorry, but it’s such a sad, sad way to travel.

And the funny thing is, they probably paid tooth and nail for this little day trip excursion to Trinidad.

After going through all the rooms I appeared to reach a dead end as I couldn’t find where I was supposed to go next.

Everything was roped off at the end and I seriously thought I was in a video game where you can’t find the exit in a palace.

Turns out that all you had to do was lift up one of the ropes and enter back into the room at the beginning.

And that was my little excursion for the day.

The best meal I’ve had in Cuba

After relaxing back at the casa for a couple hours, I headed back out, this time for lunch.

I decided that I was going to go try Doña Clara, that paladar that I missed out on last night, because they were full.

My tour guide Alex had mentioned it had good, cheap food and obviously it was popular so I was hoping to try it now when maybe there weren’t so many people eating.

I got there at 1:30 and there only a couple of tables in there.

I walked in and had a seat down.

The paladar looked like it was literally someone’s home.   There were a handful of tables set up in the big room out front with a tv and chairs set up in the corner.

I then looked at a menu.

Holy crap!

Alex wasn’t kidding when he said the food here was cheap.

Drinks were only 250 pesos ($1) whereas I was used to paying a little over double that amount.

And the food?   It was more than half the cost I was used to paying.

First question, as always though, do they have clean ice?


They do!

But, sadly no piña coladas available.

Or mojitos.

It’s all good though, I ended up drinking a canchanchara instead which is a rum drink mixed with lemon juice and honey.   It’s also served in the tiniest clay pot you can imagine.   Essentially, it’s a cute little drink you can cup in the palm of your hand.

For lunch, I ordered the chicken cooked in wine with onions.   It was only 680 pesos ($2.50) and it came with vegetables, rice and some crackers to start.

This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had here in Cuba and only one of the cheapest.   Compared to last night’s chicken dish that was 2000 pesos, this was a practical steal.   And by the way, that 2000 pesos ($8) was also an amazing deal in it’s own right.

I also planned ahead for my early morning bus tomorrow by ordering a second chicken dish for takeaway.

In total, the two meals and two drinks cost me 1860 pesos ($7.50).   Even with a tip, I only spent $9.   For two meals.   And two drinks.

Think about that.

Anyway, guess I know where I’m going for dinner tonight.   This time, though, I’ll make sure someone doesn’t snag that last table right before I get there.

By 3:00 I was, once again, back at the hostel.

Lobster dinner

What, time for more food?


At 5:30, I headed back out into the street of Trinidad.   Although it was still 25C out, I was considerably colder than I’ve felt the entire trip.

In fact, I waffled on whether to actually pop back into the casa and change into pants and a hoodie.

In the end, I just kept on in my shorts and t-shirt.

You hear that you suckers back home?   I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt!   Boo snow!

As for my destination, well, there was no doubt in my mind where I was headed.

Back to Doña Clara for another amazing cheap and delicious meal.

Last night, when I went at 7:30, the place was packed so I was hoping I’d avoid the situation by going earlier.

Turns out I overcorrected.

I looked in the door and the place was empty.

Huh, well, now what?   Were they even open or were they preparing to open for dinner later.

Nope, they were open.

I just happened to be their only customer at the moment.

Alrighty then, mesa para uno por favor.

I sat a table right by the front entrance but later moved to one in the back as the wind coming in through the open front door was giving me the chills.

Yeah, shoulda gone with the pants and hoodie.

It was a little awkward being the only one in there aside from the family that lives there.

I was literally sitting at a table staring across at a teenage girl talking on her phone on a couch and what I presume was her grandmother sitting nearby in a wheelchair.

This time for dinner I opted for the lobster tail with rice.   I’ve had lobster tails a couple of times on this trip and, let me tell you, those suckers are huge.

The lobster I had back in Cienfuegos was 3200 pesos ($13) which was my most expensive meal so far, so when I saw the menu price here of just 1300 pesos ($5), I knew I had to get it.

As with lunch, it was a phenomenal meal and, again, the price couldn’t be beat.

Lobster dinner and a sangria came out to 1550 pesos ($6).

What’s crazy is that to travelers like me, that price is so absolutely insanely cheap, while to almost all Cubans, it’s a meal they would never have because it represents so much of their income.

Musical dessert

I was done dinner at 7pm and headed back to the casa.

On the route back I always pass this little place called Bistro Latin Jazz.   It’s a small little restaurant with musicians playing during the evening.

Every time I pass by it’s full and I’ve usually already eaten so I just keep walking on by.

This time, however, it wasn’t full and I decided to peak my head inside.

I might just have room for a little dessert if they had a non-gluten option, or, at the very least, a piña colada to end my night.

Turns out I could get both!

So, I sat there in my little table for one, sipping my piña colada, eating my flan, and tapping my foot to the music.

What a great way to end my time here in Trinidad.

I may not have done alot during my time in this city but, honestly, I’m just really happy right now.

I won’t lie, as I sat there listening to the music, my phone turned upside down, and my eyeglasses off, tears actually came to my eyes as I reflected on the trip.

It’s crazy to think that I’m in the home stretch here and that this time next week, I’ll be back fully immersed in “real” life.

In the meantime though, I’ve still got 2 more days here in Cuba and a night in Mexico City to go.

This trip ain’t over yet…

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, Trinidad, Cuba
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