After staying in the metropolis, some days in the nature are more than welcome so, following the normal Cuba tour, we headed to Pinar del Rio, a province in the eastern extreme of the island that is famous for the tobacco plantations and the production of rum. The bus trip couldn’t show more the contrasts between the two realities, and the view of the Vinales valley, one of the most touristic attractions in the city of the same name is stunning.
Vinales is a small village that should not be visited for those who search for plenty of movement or activities, as the place only works as a hub for other experiences. But we were in the mood of slowing down the pace and so the opportunity was perfect to enjoy more the surroundings without the hassle of people and cars and noise and smoke. Basically, the village has one main road of roughly one mile where the villagers live and mingle in a small city center. Our house was in one of those small streets 5 min. walking distance from the main road, which had 3, 4 restaurants, some shops, bus companies and a church with an activity center annexed to it. Even in working days the traffic jam was non existing and it was greatly enjoyable just stroll around it, trying not to call too much attention for being tourists.
In Vinales, we also stayed in a Guest House (casa particular) that did all possible to make us feel welcome and link us to all available to do around the valley. “El Mestre”, how the owner was called for being a teacher, had a very nice family and lots of ambition for his “Casa Particular” project as he was already expanding the house to host more travellers. The food was excellent, all with local ingredients and we even managed to have some private dancing lessons with the daughter and boyfriend. It was for us clear that the music and dancing flows in the vains of cuban people, almost as much as the rum.
While we were in Vinales we did part of the touristic activities: rode horses in the mountains, went to the province capital Pinal del Rioand visited some caves (Cueva del Indio).
Pinal del Rio is an interesting city with a history of tobacco and rum production and is basically the center of the region, and it felt like a very busy city when we visited it. We visited a tobacco factory with it’s man intensive production and simple methods. We were also very lucky as the guide was tremendously helpful and very knowledgable which was very satisfying as we were always eager to lean more about the culture that lies under the tourist skin.
The “Cueva del Indio” is one of the multiple caves of the regions that is organised to be visited and does have some appealing to it being so well preserved. The wait is long but it is worth as the boat visit is quite impressive.
The horse ride was so spectacular that we have to do a post just for it. 🙂
We did enjoy this quite side of Cuba, it’s nature, slow movement and enjoyable activities.