Feb 12, 2018 - Harmony V
We awoke around sunrise to find our vessel, Harmony V, entering the Bahía de Casilda, on the Caribbean coast of Cuba. It was a spectacular setting, with the colonial city of Trinidad decorating a near mountainside and the cloud-capped Sierra de Escambray mountains behind.
One group headed into the mountains, where they set out along a forest trail accompanied by a local specialist guide. Guests were thrilled to have many superb bird sightings, including pygmy screech owls and the national bird, the tocororó, or Cuban trogon.
The second group headed into Trinidad, Cuba’s best preserved colonial city and justifiably a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A guided walking tour of the cobbled streets and plazas included a visit to the Templo a Yemayá, where Israel Gómez, (a high priest of santería) explained this Afro-Cuban religion. We also visited the home studio of Lázaro Niebla and Leanys Hernández, where Lázaro explained the background to his skillful craft carving stunning bas-relief wooden art pieces, and his wife Leanys spoke about her 34-member cooperative of lace-workers and their enterprise keeping alive this traditional craft.
Following lunch, the second group traveled into the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) to Sitio Guaimiro—a former 18th-century sugar baron’s mansion, where a guide regaled the history behind this restored building, adorned with period murals. Meanwhile, the first group enjoyed a lunch of roast suckling pig before descending the mountains to explore Trinidad, including a visit with Lázaro and Leanys.
By 5:00 p.m. we had returned to the ship, which promptly set sail for our long passage to Isla de la Juventud. After cocktail hour, we enjoyed staff recaps, followed by a delicious dinner before a screening of the renowned documentary movie Buena Vista Social Club.
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