“OMG, we can go horseback riding while in Trinidad!!” The husband was not as excited about this prospect as I was. He had never been on a horse in his life and this day trip promised a couple of hours in the saddle.
We stayed in Trinidad for 3 days. The town itself is quite small so there is not much to do for 3 full days. This is why we decided to go for a day of horseback riding through the nearby dusty villages all the way to the waterfall, Cascada Pilon. Our host arranged it so we were picked up with the horses right in front of the house. We rode through the cobbled streets of the town, (FYI, Trinidad town centre is a part of the World UNESCO Heritage) to the meeting point with the other guides and horses. As I had previous riding experience I got a headstrong male, while the husband was put on a less temperamental mare.
The ride took us through the small villages and big open plains. We saw palm trees surrounding small houses with colourful facades slowly fading in the Caribbean sun, animals running through the yards and streets and old buildings slowly being taken over by the nature around it. Apart from the panoramic rural views, there was also the view of the other side of the coin.
We saw a lot of very skinny animals, especially malnourished dogs and cats. It broke my heart to see them like that. I hoped that it was due to a long period with no rain which meant less food. Unfortunately, I believe there were no animal shelters on the island at that moment (do correct me if I am wrong) but due to the changes in the Cuban politics, things might have turned around.
Half way to our destination we had a 15 minute stop in a small bistro. It was a few tables under wooden awning around a cobbled bar. We found it very inviting. Here where we had rum with sugarcane juice pressed out of sugarcane right there and then (see photo below). There was no ice and the drink was not cold, but damn it was refreshing. We took a chance and arranged a lunch here on our way back to Trinidad. Later on I realised we probably had our lunch (chicken) walking around us that morning Cuba is not really a place for vegetarians.
A note here – if you do go for this horseback riding trip and you stop at the bistro, they have only one outhouse and you have to pay to the cleaning lady to use it. This was not inviting.
The stop gave us a chance to put some extra sun tan lotion on as the sun was blazing evn though it wasn’t even midday. FYI, we left Trinidad about 8.30 in the morning. The sun is really strong and even olive skin toned people who tan easily, like myself, will need factor 30 if they go horseback riding here; there will be no shade and you will be constantly in the sun making sunburns easy to get. I made my husband wear his Hawaiian shirt and it saved his shoulders. I couldn’t do much about his white, chicken legs and the sun lotion only protected his British complexion for a while.
The waterfall of Cascada Pilon itself is out of the way of the main path. After leaving your horses and our guide at another makeshift bar, we made the rest of our way on foot. We were a bit unlucky and travelled during a period when there was not much rain. For this reason, we saw no waterfall once we arrived.
What greeted us was a small, but deep lake. There were natural jumping platforms all around and we saw some brave locals and tourist attempt to impress other and make us laugh. The lake had two openings in the rock on each side< on the left one smaller and deeper and on the right a massive opening inviting swimmers to go inside and sit in the shallow bit around protruding rocks.
I think we spend about an hour or two there, just enough to cool us down and give our butts a break from the saddle and our skin a break from the sun. There was plenty of shade around the lake and there was no point where the sun was relentless. Maybe just on top of the rocks. We had a chill time with other tourists and some locals having cocktails bought at the tiny stall hidden in the shade of a rock. I swear, every where you look there is a tiny bar that sells cocktails 😀 On that note, did you know some of the most famous cocktails in the world come from Cuba?
On our way back, we took a different way to the bistro. It kinda felt like it was a one way system. With our swim gear tied to the backpack for some airdrying, we looked forward to getting back to Trinidad, taking a cold shower and hitting the cobbled streets for some more cocktails and salsa.