Thursday, January 24, 2013

Viñales (I)

After our accidented trip to Viñales, it was well past lunch time when we got there. First, we were greated by Boris, the son of our Casa Particular owner, who gave us a ride to the Casa. This Casa, called Boris y Mileidi and bookable from, was probably the best of our whole stay in Cuba. The owners were helpful and provided lots of advise. Breakfast and dinner were tasty. The room was large and with two double nets with mosquito nets. And we even got free coffee, welcome juice and free laundry! And I could talk a lot with the family about Cuba in general, which was personally rewarding. Anyway, on the way to the house, we could see Viñales was really a charming little town with only a few paved roads and a clear rural feel.

We had lunch in Casa de Don Tomas, a beautiful restaurant with ok food, and something called "Delicias de Don Tomas" which was different from the standard Cuban food for tourists (chicken, pork, fish, shrimps or lobter ;-).

After lunch and walking around town, we went for a horse-riding tour of the nearby valley. It was my first time on a horse and it turned up to be pretty interesting to ride one, and a bit scary at some point! Naoko brought Yuuhi on his back and I guess that was even scarier though!

Just outside the town, there were many tobacco plantations (plants on the left in the photo below) for which Viñales is famous. Viñales is the main producer of black tobacco in Cuba and all the big cigar companies get it from this area. A horse-riding tour of the countryside gives you the opportunity to see the plantations...

... and the "secaderos", the houses where tobacco is dried up after being harvested, from nearby.

It is also a nice opportunity to see what the countryside looks like, with it red rich land and palm trees, corn, tobacco and lots of oxen, pigs...

And the famous "mogotes", the name for karst mountains in this area, in the background.

Because of the bus problem in the morning, we did not have much time for the horse ride (a couple hours), so we could only go to visit a tobacco farmer's house...

In there, we were explained how tobacco is proccessed to prepare it for cigars and how cigars are rolled and with what leaves. The farmer also explained how the different brands of Cuban cigars (Cohibas, Partagas, Montecristo...) use different parts of the tobacco plant. While listening to him, we were of course drinking some rum and mojitos, which made the conversation more entertaining and time flow faster than we felt! ;)

He rolled a cigar for us which we could smoke there. It was my first cigar and I was surprised by the good taste in my mouth... nothing to do with bad-smell disgusting cigarettes :P Of course, the setting provided a good opportunity for interesting photos!

We bought some cigars, as souvenirs for our friends and maybe also for us, and there was no time for nothing else! It was getting very dark!

At night, back in the town, Mileydi had prepared a gorgeous dinner (chicken and lobster) which we enjoyed with some Cuban beer (Cristal and Bucanero) and cocktails (only 1.5 CUC per cocktail! = 1.5 US dollar!). Cristal beer is too light in my opinion, so we did not like it much. However, Bucanero was kind of dark and tasty. Quite a good beer! However, rum was the best thing to drink in Cuba!!!

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