Trinidad, Cuba

Dec 18, 2017 - Harmony V

Our ship reached the port of Casilda early Monday. After breakfast we boarded a bus that took us to the center of Trinidad.  Trinidad is perhaps one of the oldest and most important historical cities in Cuba.  Its fame and fortune came from the 18th and 19th centuries when sugar production was at its height and Cuba was a world leader in the export of this precious commodity.  Wealthy land owners lived with their families in the center of town while their sugar mills lay in the near by valley of “Valle de los Ingenios.”  At one point there were over 30 sugar mills with more than 150 thousand slaves living in the valley.

Our first stop was at the city model or “maqueta.” This architectural model provides a bird’s eye view of the historical core of the city.  Our travelers were met by the local historian who provided a description of the landscape, a chronology of the development of the city, and pointed out major buildings that are iconic for Trinidad.  We also discussed Trinidad in the present and how this city has become a principal focus for tourism in Cuba as well as a center for entrepreneurship in the Island. 

After our visit to the city model we continued our walk towards the Plaza Mayor, the historical center of the city.  Our guide, Yaima, provided details of the building’s owners and their roles in the sugar industry.  We visited the main cathedral, various museums including Palacio Cantero among others.  We also paid visit to one of Trinidad’s emerging artists, wood carver Lazaro Niebla and Liani’s casa de croche, where our travelers were presented with their artwork and their story as emerging Cuban artists.  We continued our walk through town with a final presentation on Santeria at the local Yemaya temple and continued to Guitarra mia for lunch. 

After lunch we boarded our bus to Iznaga plantation where our guests were introduced to the processing of sugar cane in one of the most iconic sites in the valley.  We ended our tour with a delightful walk through Guaimaro, another plantation with an extraordinary history.  We also had a chance to try a raw sugar cane juice called guarapo and relax on the grounds of the farm.  After a brief bus ride we returned to our ship just in time to depart for our next destination.

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About the Author

Fabio Amador

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Fabio (Fe) Amador is a Senior Program Officer for the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program, which is dedicated to funding exploratory research around the world. He has traveled and worked extensively throughout Latin America and is presently collaborating with research projects in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Peru, El Salvador, and Madagascar. He has also traveled regularly to Cuba over the past five years on educational and scientific missions for National Geographic. As a trained archaeologist, his interest in Taino Indian culture (which spanned the Greater Antilles, including Cuba) is focused on the sacred landscape and the use of caves for ritual activity. In his role at National Geographic, Fabio uses imaging and visualization technologies to provide new ways of capturing data and to document the experience of conducting research and exploration. His initiative in supporting worldwide research has resulted in a workshop titled The Art of Communicating Science. This capacity building initiative is aimed at students, scholars, explorers, government agencies, and stewards of the cultural and natural patrimony, so that they can be trained in how to develop, design and use imaging technology to document, protect, and communicate the importance of their heritage through exploration, discovery, and storytelling. Fe's continued effort in communicating science has allowed him to use photography, cinematography, and other multimedia tools to reach large audiences through his public lectures at universities, presentations at international scientific and professional symposia, publications in scholarly journals and on National Geographic’s Explorers Journal and NatGeo News Watch online blogs.

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