Getting out into the wild lush green countryside of Vinales was the perfect remedy after the demanding hustle of Havana. As the name suggests the views from our Casa “Vista al Valle” (view of the valley) were stunning. In Pinar del Rio a northern province of Cuba, overlooking tobacco plantations and dramatic towering cliffs it was a great place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Viñales is an agricultural hub where everything is grown and farmed with traditional methods, in particular tobacco! For this reason as well as the stunning landscape it’s also listed as a UNESCO heritage site!
It was still my birthday on arrival in Viñales and despite being a little fragile after bringing in my half a century dancing away in Havana I was ready to take it up another notch! We had been told about Hotel Jazmines which was blessed with a pool overlooking the whole valley. Cocktails and a cool dip in the pool in the absolutely over-bearing heat sounded like heaven so we decided to splurge a little and head on up! I was pleasantly surprised to see however that the drinks weren’t actually expensive at all and we sipped on more than a few piña coladas and mojitos throughout the day before watching the sun set over the valley!
That should have probably been the end of my birthday celebrations but I never do know when to stop on these occasions so after grabbing dinner and more drinks in the town centre I headed out to the local salsa bar with Dennis, the waiter who served us dinner! For some reason when I have a few drinks in me a bit of Latin flair seems to erupt from within me and I almost manage to keep up with the salsa dancing! It´s absolutely on another level over here though to what I have seen before!
The next few day´s were more relaxed and tranquil which fit in perfectly with the calm surroundings. I walked to the nearby Valle del Silencio (The Valley of Silence) with Dennis for some more fantastic views of the surrounding valley and cool down in the refreshing lake.
One of the main activities in Viñales is horse-back riding through the valley visiting various interesting sites along the way! Valle del Silencio is one of these sites but as I had already been we didn’t return. We did however visit a tobacco plantation for the typical Cuban cigars that Cuba is oh so famous for! The tobacco and cigars are all made traditionally and by hand! Now as I’m not a smoker I don’t think I can completely appreciate the process of creating and smoking a cigar. However after listening to the long process and hard work that’s required and watching a fresh cigar made by hand, it would have been rude not to try! I even bought a few to take along with me; you never know when a situation might call for an authentic Cuban cigar!
Upon leaving Viñales we were headed back past Havana and towards the centre of Cuba to Cienfuegos which we had been recommended by some fellow travellers! Dennis, our new Cuban amigo, advised us that he actually had family down close-by to Cienfuegos and if we wouldn’t mind he would like to join us on the long journey down there and we could stay with him and his family! So from Viñales to Cienfuegos we adopted another person for the journey!