One of my absolute favorite things to do when I travel is see the countryside. As much as I love the vibrant culture and pulse of a city, there is something special to be found in the countryside. Our drive from Trinidad to Cienfuegos was as nostalgic as I’d imagined. We passed farms, tobacco and sugar plantations and lush mountains in the distance. The deep blue colors of the Caribbean Sea sporadically appeared upon the horizon as we neared our next stop for the day: The lovely, historic town of Cienfuegos, Cuba.
We only had a few hours to spend in Cienfuegos before heading on the long drive back to Havana. The drive from Trinidad was beautiful and sadly the only pictures I could snap of the passing, verdant countryside were from the window of our Cuban tour bus. The glare was bad, the motion a little fuzzy but at least I captured a few good shots of the beautiful Cuban countryside.
“I long for the countryside. That’s where I get my calm and tranquillity – from being able to come and find a spot of green”. – Emilia Clarke
The countryside was once a prosperous way of life, when Cuban farmers and rich landowners lived off the land and grew sugar, tobacco and other key crops. Today most of the plantations and farms are government owned yet Castro’s regime has slowly allowed a small opening of the economy after the nearly catastrophic Special Period of the ’90s.
As we drove, I realized how incredibly beautiful Cuba is. I found it so hard to believe that in such a lush, green place that Cuba has to import over 80% of the nation’s food. Vegetables are slowly emerging in the expensive farmer’s markets, beef is a rare commodity and the fish industry is mostly for the tourists. What a pity.
I hated to leave the countryside and sincerely wished I had more time. There is so much more of Cuba to see but that will have to be for another time.
Stay tuned……Cienfuegos is a loverly place right on the sea. We visited a local artist studio, walked around the Spanish Colonial town square and had lunch in one of the most beautiful Moorish mansions I’d ever visited.