Wednesday, January 30, 2013
There are many places of interest around Trinidad. You can go for history to the UNESCO World Heritage Valle de los Ingenios (Sugar Mills Valley), or relax in the Caribbean Sea at Playa Ancon or go for nature to Topes de Collantes National Park. Our time was limited so we went for the first two options. Culture in the morning to start the year and then, relax time until sunset in the beach.
1st January in the morning was very relaxed in Trinidad and as a result, we were the only visitors going to Valle de los Ingenios by bus tour. That meant that we went by taxi with a private guide for us two! Not bad :)
The main site in El Valle is Manaca Iznaga state, a former state owned by the Iznaga family and which was the main sugar producing state in the area. Currently, we can still see the main tower, which was used to watch and control all of the sugar plantation, the main house where the Iznaga family lived, the slaves barracks and so other half-collapsed buildings.
The main house is now a restaurant and souvenir shop and it still keeps a nice colonial feel.
As in our visit to a rum factory in Jamaica, we were explained how the sugar cane is treated. And we could get juice out of it using the small mill below. In Jamaica, Naoko volunteered to be one of the oxen which would turn the mill. Therefore, now it was my turn to try the mill ;) We were also offered to drink the sugar cane juice and to mix it with rum. The cocktail was pretty tasty!
However, the most interesting thing to do in Manaca Iznaga was to climb the watch tower and enjoy the magnificent views over the valley and the whole former plantation.
After Manaca Iznaga sugar cane plantation, it was time to go to Guachinango, a former ranch or "hacienda" in Cuban Spanish. The ranch has a train station with a nice iron bridge and we were lucky enough to see the slow old train going along it.
Once in the ranch, there were some people working in the nearby fields and Yuuhi was particularly interested in this donkey ;)
The ranch main house was again a very beautiful colorful colonial building turned into a restaurant.
After Guachinango, we came back to Trinidad and stopped by a pottery oven and shop which have been active for many generations. There were photos of famous Cuban and foreign people who had visited the place, including Fidel Castro.
There was also a nice old car from the very beginning of automotion! And they were working on the engine to get it moving some time in the future...
After culture, it was time to go to the beach. Playa Ancon is only 10 km away from Trinidad and is a good place to relax and enjoy the Caribbean and a good sunset.