(Day 5 - 9)
26.11.2009 - 30.11.2009 30 °C
The 3.5 hr bus journey west from Havana to Viñales was stunning. The landscape lush and rolling with plenty of palm tree groves everywhere we looked.
We soon arrived in the small sleepy village of Viñales to a waiting mob of about 40 touts; each trying to get your attention to use their home for accommodation. (They are quite crafty and will often even tell you that the casa you were looking for doesn’t exist anymore!!). Nevertheless, you feel their desperation for money to be coming in.
Every house has a couple of rocking chairs on the porch, where the locals sit back with a cigar and watch the world move past very s-l-o-w-l-y. We ended up doing the same at some point as 4 days was far too much time there!
Their little houses in the countryside are really gorgeous even though tiny. So far the one thing we have noticed in both towns is the lack of important status divide. They seem, from the outside at least, to be at more or less the same level.
We’d like to hear more about the country’s politics but it’s been quite hard discussing this in my broken Spanish! One thing is certain though we don’t see it much from the outside, is that they have many many restrictions here. Cubans, for example, aren’t allowed in internet cafes let alone have internet at home. When asked why, the casa owner’s son says “It’s just the way it is and we accept it”.
Anyway, back to Viñales! We spent 2 days exploring the caves and touring around the valley, which is an official national park, it has intriguing limestone hillock and mountains jutting out.
In these villages, a horse or oxen cart is just as important as having a vintage American car and generally it’s quite harmonious to experience the mixture. Then comes good old Fidel who decides to commission a 50meter high, garish mural to be painted on the face of one of the mountains and destroys the whole feeling of being in a small, rural, lush village.. Cuba, land of contradictions they say..
On one of our days there, we decided to take a day trip to a beach called Cayo Levisa, about 1hour away by car, and a further 30min by boat to get there from Viñales. Crystal clear water, picture perfect beaches and surroundings, unfortunately it was a bit windy but still very pleasant.
We left on Monday on a 7hour bus journey via Havana then South East to Trinidad. This was meant to be a shorter ride but the driver picked up and dropped off several of his friends and stopped along the way for his own breakfast and snacks and then decided to have a huge lunch over 1.5 hours when the stop was supposed to be 30min long. This just seems to be the way here, no one cares and if a friend can get a freebie, so be it!!