Cuban countryside...

Vinales Travel Blog

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A typical casa in Vinales. Love those rockers.


Not too big on the city life, Dim and I took a bus to Vinales the day before yesterday.  It is about a 3 and a half hour trip through some beautiful countryside of farms and small farm houses.  Very lush and tropical.  Our lovely casa particulares houselady in Havana had tee´ed up some accommodation in another casa particulares here in Vinales.  Our lady here is just as nice.  We have stayed two days with her now.  Our room is clean and comfortable (the shower is somewhat tempramental but...) and we have a nice little patio that overlooks the countryside.

The cathedral in the plaza in Vinales.
  There are two old fashioned big comfy chairs there where we sit at night and reflect the day.  Such tranquility!!  She insisted that we have dinner at her casa last night.  We dined on lobster (first time for me) with serviettes of toilet paper.  The extremes here are bizarre to say the least.

On the day we arrived, we had a look around the plaza which has a very colonial spanish old church ... complete with the old bell on top.  It is like something out of an old Mexican movie or picture that.  A really nice atmosphere in the plaza too with many people just loungin around.  We walked about 1 km out of town to a really nice restaurant which did awesome pizzas.  The scenery on the way was really similar to something like Vietnam or Thailand, big green and sheer mountains that jut out of nowhere.

Howdy Partner.
  But beneath them, there were fields of maize, tobacco, pinas (pineapple) and banana.  Everywhere, chickens roam the streets and the fields are filled with ox and duck and stray pero (dogs). 

It rains a bit here but it is an absolute downpour and then 5 minutes later it stops.  It really just makes the heat more sticky and the humidity that little bit worse.  There have many a hair dilemna about this humidity but we are soldiering on! 

The espanol is improving but there are still things that we have to act out.  My favourite was Dim explaining that she doesn´t eat any meat (she got that point across ok) but that she did eat eggs.  I knew the word for egg (huevo) but it was still hilarious to watch Dim act like a chicken laying an egg.

Don´t we look like naturals!!
  Don´t even get me started on her miming routine for wanting to ride a horse and have a cigar...tooo funny!!

At the local bar on the first night, there was a show with salsa dancing and standing on tequila bottles.  It was fantastic.  The local people have such a natural talent and rhythym.  Amazing.  Yesterday we did a horse ride out through the farm areas and countryside.  Having never riden a horse before, I was little apprehensive but I have to say it was fantastic.  Our guide, Roberto spoke not a word of english and insisted on giving us a complete running commentary, even though he knew we spoke hardly any spanish.  We could pick up words occasionally but it was really a miming act again.  We had no idea where he was taking us, how long we would be or what we would see.

Our farmer who rolled the cigars for us. Fresh and no chemicals, he assured us.
  We really just jumped on the back of these horses and set off.  The views were magnificent and Marguerita and Franchero (our horses which we affectionately called, Marg and Frank) were great.  Dim got the frisky Franchero who sometimes had other ideas about where were going but Roberto kept him in line. 

We were taken to an old farmhouse where we got to see cigars being factory tour, this was authentic farmer rolling it with his bare hands on his wooden table outside.  It only took a few minutes and then it was time for us to have a puff.  We had had a little training earlier that day when we bought two cigars in a shop.  We were shown how to take the end off, role it while lighting and, most importantly, not to inhale.

Smoking our cigars. Ok, I only got about a third of the way through mine...woosy lungs .
  So we didn´t disgrace ourselves with the farmer.  After that, it was time for coffee the thickness of mud (what a kick!!) and some more pina.  I am looking like a pina ...eating it 3 times a day now.  After 4 hours of this tour our arses where starting to feel it and made Dim promise that if I ever came up with some City Slickers type holiday, she should beat me.  We tried to explain to our guide that we were a little cansada (tired)...rather than try to act out that our arses were sore.  I used the word rapido to say that we wanted to get home the quickest route.  This was a dangerous thing to say though, Roberto thinking that we wanted our horses to go faster.  Dim quickly sorted this one out with another mime routine.  Between the two of us, we spent a lot of time laughing, either at the fact that we had no idea what was going on or at each other trying to act out something that we needed to explain.
Dinner at our casa in Vinales. What a feast. This was our soup and next course was lobster.
  I´m sure that Roberto will remember the two funny and odd girls from Australia but we took a photo for him anyway.

We head out of Vinales today by bus again.  Into Habana where we will catch a taxi to a beach called Playa Del Estes.  It supposed to be a lot less tourtisty than Veradero which is full of Canadians.  Nothing against Canadians but Playa Del Estes is where the locals go to beach it up so we thought we´d hit the beach but still keep a little Cuban flare about it and not head down the tourist path again...after Playa Del Carmen we had our fill.  We will have three nights there then fly home.   Habana to Cancun to Mex City to L.A to Auckland to Melbourne.  Yay!!!  Another 33 hours....not looking forward to that. photos.  Internet here needs to be hunted down and when you find them, there are about 5 in a row but only 2 work.  They are on dail up.  Massive big white screens that have faded yellow with time and a mouse that sticks.  The keyboards have a lot of spanish keys that you have to avoid and Dim and I have a race to find the @ is never shift and 2.  I will try to download some pics from Mexico city airport where the internet was fast and cheap....hey, got a spare four hours to kill there anyway.




debbiej says:
Howdy partners, the trip sounds a blast and the people sound really friendly. Did you get a pic of yourselves riding the horses whilst having a cigar, I love all the stories can't wait to see the pics that go with them. The beach that you are going to sounds really nice lazing back in the sun having margaritas reading a book ahh thats the life. Have a great one take care love deb
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
nicwise says:
Hi Michele
Loving that this trip is giving you the opportunity to do things for the first time even though you are so well travelled. Thats what i love about travelling too. Cuba sounds so cool, can't wait to hear about the local beach hang out. With your blonde hair and fair skin you may turn into the local attraction. Enjoy!!! Nic
Posted on: Apr 08, 2008
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A typical casa in Vinales.  Love t…
A typical casa in Vinales. Love …
The cathedral in the plaza in Vina…
The cathedral in the plaza in Vin…
Howdy Partner.
Howdy Partner.
Don´t we look like naturals!!
Don´t we look like naturals!!
Our farmer who rolled the cigars f…
Our farmer who rolled the cigars …
Smoking our cigars.  Ok, I only go…
Smoking our cigars. Ok, I only g…
Dinner at our casa in Vinales.  Wh…
Dinner at our casa in Vinales. W…
photo by: lizzy1987