timistravels

My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Viñales, Cuba; My favorite part of the country

on January 2, 2016

Dec. 22-25

Viñales, Cuba

For 35 CUC’s /pp we took a personal taxi to Viñales. Our driver Pepe brought his 8 year old son John Anthony with him as they were on vacation from school. It was a delightful ride and John Anthony sang “happy birthday” to me J. His English was about as good as my Spanish so instead of ‘birthday’ he said ‘baby’ which made me laugh even more!

The ride was 70% along a highway but what stood out most were all the people along the highway either 1) waiting for a bus or such or 2) holding out money hoping that a taxi might stop and pick them up. Something you’d never see in the states! There were also a number of horse drawn buggies along the roadway as well… as we learned to say “only in Cuba”.

The last 15 miles were off the highway and took us towards the community of Viñales. The landscape was rolling and green. All of the Cuban we met constantly said that Viñales is “so much natural” and we could not agree more. It was beautiful. Pepe took us right to our Casa where we met Isabel and Mario our hosts and the nicest people!

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most of the homes here are ‘casa particulars’ allowing guests to stay in one of their rooms.  The town is lined with brightly painted homes.

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horse or cattle drawn carts were everywhere on their streets

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farm country

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valleys of the area

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Pepe and his son got us here safely

Got settled in and ventured out to explore the town. Stopped for a drink and eventually dinner before going back and sitting on the porch chatting and drinking with the other family that were in our Casa, Aleksandra and her parents visiting from Warsaw, Poland. She spoke fluent Spanish and English so it helped us all communicate.

The following morning we awoke and decided to take the taxi tour ($10/pp IF you get 4 people for your car.). That is when we met Claudia and Robert from the Netherlands, a brother and sister that we ended up really enjoying spending time with. The taxi took us to 2 caves, (Indian Cave) one we got a short board ride down a river before leaving, we went to a big famous mural as well as some fancy hotel with a pool. Lastly we went to a traditional tobacco farm where we watched a guy make cigars and he gave one to Harry.   We met the ‘kids’ for dinner at the best restaurant I found in Cuba, El Olive, a Mediterranean place that had pretty darn good food!

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Mural de la Prehistoria; The snail, dinosaurs, sea monsters and humans  represent the theory of evolution.  You don’t need to pay the entry fee to see it as you can stop along the road and take a photo like this.  It is a bit of a disappointment as I thought it was prehistoric artwork!  Wrong. 

The final day we headed into the town center and stumbled upon their weekly market.  It was funny that the road was closed off for the farmers to come to town and sell their goods! There were vegetables, pigs and one of our favorite things, a beer truck.

IMG_2597We then secured our taxi to Trinidad then hired a taxi to take us to Cuevas de Santo Tomas (caves). We paid $13pp for taxi ride and $10pp for entry (You MUST have your passport to enter). Helmet and headlamp were given to each of us and we headed up a steep 200 foot climb up rocky, unstable terrain to the entry of the caves.

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Once in the caves we needed to use the headlamps because it was dark yet sadly my battery was old and the light was really weak. The route we walked in the cave was really wet and slippery, no handrails or the like to guide us or to hang onto.   It was simply not enjoyable and a bit of a disappointment. Not to mention it was HOT inside the cave, something I was not expecting. With the size of the cave we were disappointed by what we actually ‘saw’ on the tour.

In the end our time in Viñales, Cuba was delightful. We enjoyed the natural surroundings and the people. Isabel and Mario were wonderful hosts and even with the language barriers we managed to communicate. We were sad leaving them when our cab arrived on Christmas morning.

 


3 responses to “Viñales, Cuba; My favorite part of the country

  1. Tom Milan says:

    VERY cool experience! Plus, you guys can claim being part of the first wave of tourists.

    In retrospect, it was stupid to cave in to the Miami Cubans and maintain the economic blockade for so long. I was a freshman in college during the missile crisis. Now those were scary times!

    Like

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