Cuba 2007

Vinales

Sorosa waterfall
Drinking from a coconut
Day 4. This day we went from Havana to Vinales, a small village in the west of Cuba. But before we arrived there we made a stop in Sorosa, where we saw a nice waterfall. Later we made another stop in a small eating house next to the highway, where we drunk cocosmilk with rum straight from a coconut. Soon after that we arrived in Vinales, a nice little town in a beautiful nature area. This area is very green and famous for its 'mogotes' (rocks of calcium), which only exist in 4 countries in the world. The hotel was on top of a hill looking over the valley of Vinales, a terrific view. There was a very relaxing atmosphere in this hotel, which consisted of a few smaller buildings built around a swimming pool. In the evening we ate with the whole group in the oldest house of Vinales (which is now a restaurant) and watched some salsadancing in one of the local clubs. Hotel Ermita, Vinales
Tobacco plantation
Tobacco farmer and his house
Halfway the walking tour
Day 5. The day started with a 3 hour walk through the valley, from the village of Vinales through tobacco plantations. Our extremely talkative local guide with a great sense of humor (or at least he thought so) told us a lot about the plantations and the whole area. We visited some local farmers in the area and one of them was selling all kind of fruits and of course cigars. We walked via a quite dark cave through one of the 'mogotes' and after one more visit to a farmer who looked like Paul Newman and smokes at least 16 cigars a day, we returned to Vinales. In the afternoon we just relaxed a bit, we did some sunbathing, swimming, we smoked a cigar (Iza the first 1/3 part and I smoked the rest because she did not like it ;-)) and drank some cocktails (to rinse away the dry taste of the cigar). In the evening we went to a 'Paladar' (a private family restaurant) for the first time and we got some instructions from our guide, because the one we went to, was actualy an illegal one (they don't have a license and don't pay taxes over their income). To make it not too obvious that we went there with the whole group, we left the hotel in 3 smaller groups and met later in the 'Paladar'. The food was better than in the previous state restaurants (as we already read in books that they often are) and especially bigger amounts (big plates of languste, chicken, fish, rice, potatoes), but Iza became ill next day, probably because the fish was not completely fresh anymore. In the evening we went to the big dance club, where actualy in the beginning of the evening nobody was dancing and only watching some musical performances, but later when the entrance became free, a lot of people entered and started to dance (but than we just left). Mogotes and a tree
Drying tobacco leaves
Relaxing at the pool with a cigar
Fossile musuem Day 6. Actualy we planned a horse riding trip this day, but all the horses were hired to a big group of tourists, so we had to find an alternative. Instead we walked to Vinales and visited some small open-air museum with fossiles and medicinal herbs, where Iza suddenly started to notice that she did not feel so good because of the fish from the evening before. It took a while before the guide (the owner) of the small museum understood that she did not feel so good and we asked him for some medicinal herbs against stomach ache. He prepared some strange tea and within a few minutes Iza's stomach ache was completely gone. Back in the hotel Iza went sleeping for a while (still not feeling 100%) and I relaxed next to the swimming pool again. View from our hotel over Vinales
Man made from tobacco leaves
Peso store
Day 7. On this day we went from Vinales first to Pinar del Rio, to visit another cigar factory (we did not go in, because we already visited one in Havana) and a factory where they make Guayabita (a liquer made of Guave). We had a short walk in the main street of Pinar del Rio and than we continued to Santa Clara, a bus ride of about 6 hours. The busdriver brought a fish he had bought in Vinales to his wife in an outside neighbourhood of Havana (I hope she survived that ;-)). The weather was not so good this day, even a lot of rain, so good that we were in the bus whole day. We arrived in Santa Clara and ate in the hotel, we had some buffet diner (quite good, but not really Cuban) and in the evening there was some show near the swimming pool of the hotel with singers and dancers. Later the restaurant turned into a disco and started completely empty. To my surprise the loud music went on till deep in the night and I really wondered why, since all the hotel guests went to sleep already long time ago. When I out of curiosity had a look in the disco it was completely full with the local people, who apparantly were allowed to enter the hotel complex (which is quite unusual, since the government wants to discourage contacts between tourists and Cubans). Main street in Pinar del Rio
Classic Buick

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