Trinidad is about 4 hours’ drive south from Havana. A mild climate and the easy access to the Caribbean favoured its agricultural and commercial growth. The architectural prosperity in the colonial times shaped the city and beautifully framed its narrow streets paved in cobblestones. Trinidad is deeply religious – both Santeria and Catholicism are widely practiced. Going to Cuba on the Holy week seemed the perfect opportunity to see one of the most important of Trinidad’s processions: the Cross procession on Good Friday.
Arriving in Trinidad in the morning we had time to have a tour of the town before the procession. In the central square you can find the wifi spot which works with an Etecsa card (the Cuban telephone company) and just next to the Church of the Holy Trinity there are steps used by bars and venues for setting their tables and chairs to have customers outside.
In all the main streets there were nice little shops selling jewellery, pottery and typical clothes and hats. I made a mental note to go back shopping the following day and agreed with five of the other girls to go to the beach. It was six of us and we manged to find a taxi that fitted us all in to go and come back to pick us up for 20 CUCs. It was one of these old wide American cars with sticky leather seats and two of the slimmer girls had to sit on laps, but we didn’t care, the afternoon was going to be hot and the ocean’s breeze just seemed to be too good to pass.
We went to Playa La Boca. The beach was quite popular among locals and it was alright, but not enough to be in my top ten as it was too close to the road and with some seaweed on the shore. However we still had a good time and I do have strict standards for my top ten!
In the meantime Darren, being allergic to sun and relaxation, wandered in the streets until he could find something to do. There he was, jamming with a ‘quijada‘ which is a lovely horse jawbone. They really can make music with anything! Once they figured out he had rhythm they entrusted him with a drumstick!
Coming back from the beach the procession was about to start and at sunset people started gathering in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity.
The Trinidad Cross Procession
The Cross procession started from the Church of the Holy Trinity after 7pm. By then hundreds of people had joined with lots of candles and prayers, and cameras (only us tourists). Apparently the procession route was originally designed to prevent pirates from looting and followed the streets marked with crosses.
The priest and the church members carried the Cross and a statue of the Virgin Mary. The crowd followed them at the rhythm of music.
Easter Cross Procession
Trinidad by night
The whole procession lasted about two hours and the great vibe continued afterwards with people moving to the steps and ready to dance salsa at the Casa de la Musica or reggaeton at the Disco Ayala.
Parque Guanayara was scheduled for the following day, so we kept the disco option for our second night and went instead to have some drinks on the steps. You need to pay 1CUC to have a spot on a chair and then you can have drinks, but you don’t have to. However our guide was certainly a fan of rum – he could give you many great recipes for cocktails, so we got to experiment a few of them ourselves.
There were good dance shows and live music at the top terrace; I suggest to bring some small change because the performers usually ask for tips afterwards. When the shows finished the live music still carried on and I just threw myself into the ring and someone always took me for a dance. even if you have danced salsa before, you won’t truly appreciate it until you have had a dance with a Cuban. Even an 80-year-old granny can teach you some tricks and make you go to your happy place.