Feb 26, 2018 - Harmony V
Our morning began with a few clouds combined with soft sunlight. One group headed towards the Escambray Mountains to visit the Topas de Collantes area for a hike through forests with bromeliad-covered trees, birdwatching and learning about the native plants. The other group went into Trinidad town for a walking tour. Trinidad was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez, a Spaniard. From the 1600s to the 1800s, the city prospered with trading both sugar and slaves. Many wealthy families lived here during that time, establishing what is now the historical heart of Trinidad. The town had periods of abandonment and resettlement, up until the late 1940s, which kept new development of more modern buildings from happening, and therefore Trinidad retained its colonial architecture. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, the town is protected and is the jewel of the area for its traditional qualities and values. On our tour, we visited a 3-dimensional wooden model of the town, and explored along cobblestone streets around the historic Plaza Mayor section. We visited a wonderful woodcarver, Lázaro Nieblas, who creates life-like, three-dimensional sculptures of local people by using pictures he has made of them as his reference. After some free time to explore the town, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in a paladar, a privately owned restaurant in a house. We then drove to the Valle de los Ingenios, an area famous for it’s sugar cane mills back in the early 19th century. Many families moved into this valley and became very wealthy with large plantations of sugar cane. Over time, many of the mills closed as sugar export dropped in volume, and during the revolution, many plantation owners left the country. We visited Guaímaro, a historic plantation house that overlooks the valley which is also a UNESCO site. After a taste of guarapo, (sugar cane juice), we boarded the bus toward the ship and set sail towards Isla de la Juventud.
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