Don Diego Velázques de Cuellar founded seven villages Baracoa, Bayamao, Sancti Spiritu, Trinidad, Pourto Principe, La Habana, Santiago de Cuba and the town Remedious. Trinidad was founded as number four 1514. This is the oldest and best maintained colonial city of Cuba. The historical core with the cobbled streets running from Plaza Mayor is an architectural feast for the eyes. The buildings in Trinidad aren’t the only well maintained things. The old classic American vintage cars seem to be in amazing shape here no other part of Cuba can compete. On the cobbled street these cars meets great competition form horses, donkeys and carts. The life on the streets is following the old traditions from vanishing times.
Most tourists go to Havana, Trinidad or maybe Santiago de Cuba. Hidden in the middle of these three cities are Camagüey. This is Cuba’s third largest city on dusty plains in the middle of nowhere. Camagüey is a long way from Trinidad but even longer from Havana or Santiago de Cuba. For me it was an eight hour long bus ride from Santiago de Cuba arriving at the hotel in the middle of the night. Most people go to bed at that time but Camagüey fantastic photographic opportunities surprised me. It was darkness like a Charles Dickens city with colors, shades and reflections from the colonial buildings. I grab my camera and tripod for a several hour long stroll through the darky Camagüey.
If interested in Cuban music one should go to Santiago de Cuba. This is the swinging city of Caribbean music particularly just before and during the carnival. Santiago de Cuba is a hotter more vibrant city than the more cool and relaxed Havana. Havana has the amazing old architecture while Santiago de Cuba has the fabulous music. The Patio de Artex is one of the wonderful music clubs along Calle Heredia on the way down to Parque Céspedes. On the square old men playing different instruments are trying to fork out some CUC: s from visiting tourists. A cross Parque Céspedes one can find Casa de Don Diego Velázquez museum. Even the museum has their performing musicians a couple of times a week.
Santiago de Cuba
I arrived in Santiago de Cuba five days before the Carnival in Santiago De Cuba. My Casa particular (Cuban bed and breakfast) was on Calle Heredia about five minutes walking down to Parque Céspedes. Santiago de Cuba was dressing up for the carnival. Hugo Chavez was coming to visit Raul Castro so it was necessary to paint the front side on all houses along the way the carnival cortège would follow from the start to the finish at Parque Céspedes. All over the city people were training dance steps, preparing dresses for the carnival. One could hear music in each street corner, actually the same music everywhere, Santiago de Cuba was like a gigantic orchestra playing these rhythms. I was a vibration as special feeling one ca only feel in eastern Cuba on the Caribbean side.
I had left Holguin and travelled to Gibara on the north coast of Cuba. This is a tranquil sleepy small fishing village which spreads from a calm sparkling bay into the rugged surrounding hills. A nice area to calm down for a few days. The spot there Christopher Columbus first disembark in Cuba on October 28, 1492 is twenty km to the east of Gibara in Play Don Lino. I strolled around in Gibara then I come across a car rental company Cuba-Car. It was next to impossible to rent a car in Holguin so I didn´t have much hope in renting a car in Gibara. The man responsable for the office Raymond said, this office is for Cubans living abroad coming back home on vacation. If they need a car they can rent one. I said what about tourists can they rent a car?
In the late afternoon I arrive in Holguin Cuba’s fourth largest city (195 000) after a long bus ride from Trinidad. There is actually no good reason for a tourist to stay in Holguin this is an industrial city. The old colonial city of Camagüey Cuba’s third largest city (270 0000) west of Holguin is far more interesting and rewarding for tourists. A taxi drove to Casa Particulares Casa de Rosa near the central areas of the town. This casa was spotlessly clean and had hot-water bathroom. In the evening I went out to see what Holguin could offer for entertainment in the middle of the week. I met Ramon Quintana on Plaza Calista Garcia.