Vinales (pronounced Viniales) is in the Central-West of Cuba on a plateau surrounded by picturesque hills and valleys where tourists flock to get that authentic rural experience. The result is more like a faux-alpine apres-ski atmosphere which comes alive in the evening when the temperature dives from a beer drinking 24 celsius in the day to a cocktail guzzling 19 in the evening.
As the light dims the bars fill with western and latino travelers, some still splattered with mud from the days mountain-biking and some dressed to the hilt, but they all join in the merriment when the $2 cervesas, $3 mojitoes and Salsa takes hold.
Walking down the main street on Friday morning we saw heaps of people piling-up at the state-run stores to get their hands on a highly sort-after prize, in this case it was eggs. Friday must be egg day, trucks with crates of eggs just arrived in town and for the locals it was a not-to-miss opportunity. Among them were the hundreds of Casa Particular proprietors who need eggs to provide breakfast to the army of travelers who make their way to this little village west of Havana.
The mornings have a different feel, as the tourists sleep off the night before the locals are out egg queuing or other similar activities.
It’s week 4 and we’ve battled our way through our injuries, Malene with a case of “Castro’s revenge” Mariane with a hobbly leg and me feeling pretty well for a change so we kept our activities to a manageable level. We hit the main street and saw the shop, took a horse and buggy taxi, which was actually a horse and trough-cart, up the hill to a look-out and then visited a tobacco/ cigar farm.
I spoke to some guys at the look out inquiring about the music blasting from their sound system, it turned out they were a band and it was their sounds on the system. Just as well, so both Mariane and I bought the CD and have been listening to it since.
The cigar farm turned out to be a nice surprise thanks to the genuine farmer Alfredo who took us through the cigar making story with so much enthusiasm. Alfredo reminded me of someone but just can’t quite work out whom.
Later that evening over some Daiquiris (Malene had coke) we met some very funny and drunk English ladies who thought we were French.
Don’t expect wide-spread internet in Cuba other than in some towns and then it’s only in the town-squares. One must purchase wifi access for $2 an hour and sit in the square by the church, to ensure a good connection, to download emails which is about all you can manage, on rainy days it’s trickier. In Vinales I shared the square with some skinny chickens, baby chicks and a melee of travelers.
Cant say we did much, between Malene’s tummy upset and Mariane’s bruised heel our sense of adventure was low so we spent a fair bit of time at our Casa, mainly on the roof.
It rained a lot but during the sunny spells we ventured up the main street to forage for restaurants or somewhere with live Salsa to lift the spirit, or just a nice Pina Colada.
Other than that we had a quiet time, I stood in a giant dog poo, Malene got blog writers block, had a Pina Colada where they give you the bottle to add as much rum as you like, danced some salsa, had an argument with a taxi driver, made up, were overcharged but got our money back and we lost our straw hats.
At the airport we considered our new hat options