Trinidad, referring here to the Cuban city, not the Caribbean Island, is a beautiful place. Set among jungle-clad hills, with palms, mangoes, and banana trees everywhere, the town is relatively unchanged from its Spanish colonial days. In fact it's probably more beautiful than it was 100 years ago, with lots of Unesco heritage money having gone into restoring its lovely Spanish colonial houses, shops, churches and squares over the last few years. It feels like a Southern European town in many ways, with its orange-tiled roofs, its brick and plaster houses, its cafes and restaurants. Only it's more colourful, more ethnically diverse, and greener.
Away from the centre, the houses often have small porches where women while away the heat of the afternoon chatting from their rocking chairs, whereas the richer houses in the middle of town traditionally have a beautiful central courtyard behind a frontage right on the street. The windows of the old houses are very tall and wide, and come to within 50cm or so of the ground, with bars - and sometimes a dog, child or granny sitting on the window seat inside peering out into the street. It's presumably to provide coolness inside, although windows are often shuttered in the heat of the day.
Horses are still widely used in and around Trinidad, for locals as well as tourists; horse-drawn carts carrying mum and the kids back from the market, or a guy on a horse are both common sights. For the lowboy-style hats and boots with spurs are de rigour.
Unfortunately, with Trinidad's extreme picturesque-ness comes tourism, and the good and bad that goes with that. It hasn't reached the extremes of a place like Venice, but for Cuba, it's pretty touristy. On the plus side, there are some lovely cafes and restaurants in the old part of town, where you can sips mojitos and eat yummy seafood - with beans and rice, of course.
But the negative is you are hassled on every corner. "Taxi, taxi lady. Taxi for the beach, for Havana. Lady, where you go? Cheap price, same price as the bus." An early "non, gracias" does not stop the spiel - after all, who knows, you might suddenly change your mind and decide to head for the beach, despite the fact you are totally unequipped for such an excursion, and instead are off to visit a museum, or take photos from the beautiful San Francisco de Asis belltower.
In Trinidad, the question (heard constantly): "Where you from?" preludes not a friendly chat, but a demand - for money "for my baby" (strangely, often it's old women asking for money for their baby), for soap, pens, to come into a shop, a restaurant, a casa particulare, to go on a horse ride, to buy cigars etc etc.
The most invading-your-personal-space persistant are the clothes ladies, who pull at your shirt, demanding seemingly that you undress immediately and hand over your wardrobe, right there in the street.
I shouldn't whinge, and it's nothing like you might experience in Morocco or India, but the fact that you are approached every couple of minutes does get frustrating. I suppose it's the physical equivalent of internet spam - the argument from their side is that if they approach every single tourist who walks past and tout their taxi, horse or bargain restaurant, at some stage they are going to hit upon the one person that needs whatever they are selling right at that moment.
From the tourist side there is also the guilt factor. Should you give money to the old lady for her baby, or carry around soap in your bag to hand over to soapless families? Or is that just compounding the problem. (Why soap? Soap is easy to get hold of...)
Then there is the issue that although Cubans are seriously poor compared to us tourists, they don't appear destitute, as in some other countries. The Government provides free healthcare to a high standard, plus free schooling, and subsidised basics - milk for babies, for exbread, school uniforms, housing, transport, even theatre productions and sports events. You don't see the vast shanty towns in Cuba that you see, for example, in Brazil. Everyone appears to have a house, even if it is small and rundown. The kids are clothed, and look clean, healthy and cared for.
But the economic gap between Cubans and all those Trinidad tourists is still huge - we must seem ripe for a bit of evening-up the scales.
What would Che have done?