Thursday, August 10, 2017

Travelogue - Viñales, Cuba

The highlight of our trip to Cuba was a day trip to Viñales, the tobacco valley about 2.5 hours west of Havana.  I didn't do much research and completely underestimated the size of Cuba as a country, everything was much further spread out that I thought.  When our group decided to embark on a 5 hour round trip adventure I was a little wary that it would be worth it to spend so much time in the car on a short weekend trip.  But if you have the same hesitations as me, believe me when I say, it was SO worth it!

Part of what made it so worth it was our tour guide, Tito.  We booked the tour through Discover Viñales and lucked out being paired with Tito.  You can also contact him directly to book a tour if you don't need transportation to/from.  If I were to plan the trip over again, I would allow for an overnight in Viñales, there are lots of Casa options and apparently there are nice beaches 30 minutes north.  We managed to jam pack a full day but it would have been nice to relax in the region.

We started with a tour of the Indian caves and a boat ride through the rock formations which was really cool, albeit a little Disneyesque.

 

Then we headed to an authentic tobacco sorting factory.  This job is typically reserved for women and it happened to be their one Saturday off so we did not see anyone working.

 




Lunch was hands down the best meal of our trip.  Endless plates of of true farm to table food and that view!
 

 

The "Painkiller" - although nothing about this view causes pain in my eyes!

 






After lunch, we headed to the tobacco farm of Tito's girlfriends' family.  Her grandparents have been growing tobacco for many years (a true family affair!).  They welcomed us in to their home for the afternoon, rolling us cigars which we then took on a trail ride through the valley; absolutely magical! 





It is certainly a different way of life in Cuba but I've never encountered a group of people more content with their lives.  We assume they feel a lack for everything we have and the conveniences of a more modern life but quite the opposite is true.  Everyone we encountered had nothing but smiles on their faces and words of love and appreciation for their country, it was really remarkable!


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