Thursday, 10 June 2010


I had this fantasy of hitch-hiking my way around Cuba travelling on the back of a lorry / tractor / horse drawn cart. When I told my Cuban family this, they thought I was crazy, ‘que loca’, it is seen as the most inconvenient, uncomfortable means of transport, but for most it is the only or best option. They ask me ‘where’s the romance in travelling this way?’
Nevertheless, without them even knowing it, they have made my dream possible. On numerous trips to El Pilon waterfalls, about 45 minutes outside of Trinidad, we have managed to travel by nearly every method possible; motorbike with side car, you can picture me in the side car with my bright red helmet. The Polski, which is like a tardis and fits the whole family. The back of a lorry, the motorbike was available but I couldn’t resist hitching a ride back to town with the locals. And finally by tractor, ‘lo que falta’, what is missing is horse-back riding, maybe next time, just need to find a man with a horse!
Our journey by tractor is the most impressive yet, we set off early morning with our gasoline, packed lunch and drinks and walked to an agreed meeting point. From here we jumped on our chariot and went in search of other family members, waving at people on the street as we pass by, holding on tight for our lives as we bump up and down on the cobbled streets.
Once we were all fully loaded up, at least 10 of us in the chariot, but still plenty of space to pick up a hitch-hiker or 2, we start our journey through the beautiful countryside towards la Sierra del Escambray mountains, stopping to buy some ‘ciruelas’ or ‘plums’ at a ‘campesino’ house, not quite like the ones I am used to back in the UK, small green, some with a bitter taste and others more ripened, quite sweet.
After about a 45 minute crazy / bumpy ride standing in our chariot with the sun pouring down on us, hands stiff from holding tight to our chariot, we set off for a 30 minute walk through the shady mountains to reach our destination; El Pilon waterfalls.
How inviting, we had it completely to ourselves, an unopened bottle of rum is thrown into the water, that way we have no choice but to jump into the water, find the bottle and enjoy! The water is clear and refreshing and perfect for a hot Sunday relaxing with the family. Without a care in the world we swim, joke, have a snooze, eat our supplies and return to meet our chariot at the pre-arranged time.
Finally our chariot arrives and we return to Trinidad, exhausted, lazy and hungry so we go to a peso restaurant for dinner before heading home.

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