You don’t travel to Cuba without visiting the island’s lush western region, where it seems as if time has stood still and you’re surrounded by fifty shades of green.
We walk slowly down the dirt road, admiring the surroundings while being snap happy and smiling at what we see. This beautiful valley in the ‘Parque de Viñales’ is lush and green, contrasting with the rustic red soil beneath our feet. We are surrounded by the strange dome-like mogotes. These porous mountains hide miles of caves, causing Joe to look anxiously toward anything that looks like an entrance. When we later stand on a mirador admiring the view down the valley, he finds a farmer who can point us in the right direction. We will find out more about the caves later.
We pass pigs, horses, goats, bulls and dogs grazing and sniffing. They don’t care so much about us. We sigh, feeling happy. It was really worth coming out here. We spent our first night in Viñales, where we rented rooms in a Casa Particular. Although both the rooms and the hosts were tip top, we longed for some quieter surroundings. Instead of trucks spewing exhaust, we now wake up to roosters and the occasional hen that clucks outside our door. We have taken up residence in one of the many cabins on ‘Campismo Dos Hermanas’, five kilometers outside Viñales. Out here we have a bar, a restaurant (ok, we barely use it) and swimming pool (20 degrees in the water), but it’s the location we appreciate the most. Not to mention, we have the loveliest and helpful daily manager here, Osario.
The day after we patiently wait for a bus or taxi into town, but time goes by and nothing shows up. Two men with a horse and cart, who have made a delivery to the camp, ask if we would like a ride. Ah, a new type of transport for the trip. Of course we do. The men fire up their cigars and let Joe have a taste. The conversation is going well, we all have a good laugh, in halting Spanish, but it works.
Viñales. Full of casas and backpackers. My initial impression of Viñales was actually a kind of “Gringotenango” (the nickname of Panajachel in Guatemala). It’s busy. Everybody has some sort of agenda, heading somewhere. Meanwhile, the atmosphere is relaxed. You sit down, order a mojito and watch life go by. We order pasta and pizza and freshly squeezed juice. Guava, pineapple, orange … Delicious!
Out on the street there are horses, bicycles, Viazul buses and old Chevrolets. The background is a host of colorful houses in green, blue, pink and yellow. All this, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and green fields.
If we go back to Cuba, this area is to be explored even more. 🙂
Presidente: When we took the horse and carriage, we saw an empty box for Presidente. It´s a beer from the Dominican Republic, which we often drank when we were in St. Martin. The men pointed and explained. It turns out that there is a small bar just along the road from our camp, where they sell Presidente. Of course we had to check it out.
Wild west: Horses play an important part of people´s lives. After work it is nice to meet up for a drink and some competition.