Our next, and last, stop in Cuba was Vinales. This is a small town near Havana, right in the middle of the tobacco growing region. Yes, it was finally time to explore Cuban tobacco country, and puff on some Cuban cigars. The drive into Vinales is stunning and we arrived in the late afternoon. After walking around for a while we managed to find a place to stay. The casa was in a good location and the lady who ran it was lovely. We strolled around the small town centre and managed to find some nice cheap places for food and drinks. It does pay to avoid the lonely planet recommended ones as we found them to be very pricey.
We didn’t have much time to spend in Vinales unfortunately, so we decided to check out the tobacco fields the next morning. The best way to tour around the tobacco fields is on horseback, much to the boys disappointment (they were still in pain from horse riding in Trinidad). We were picked up at our casa by a young guide and much healthier looking horses. We then set off through the countryside and were rewarded with spectacular scenery. We soon discovered that my horse Carbonerro (meaning Charcoal) truly lived up to his name, his fiery personality had resulted in a deep seated dislike for Mark’s horse Mojito who always received a bite and the occasional kick from Carbonerro whenever he got too close. Poor Mojito.
We stopped at a tobacco farm and learned about the cigar making process from a man whose family has been doing it for generations. It was interesting, and unsurprising, to learn that the government gets most of the money from the cigar trade. It was nice to simply sit in his barn, puff on cigars and chat about Cuba. Once we left the farm we bought a few cigars to smoke while riding through the countryside. Bliss.
Cubans love cowboys, so I was excited to wear my cowboy boots that I had bought in Texas. However, everywhere we stopped on the day long tour, I was bombarded with requests for them. At the end of the tour I ended up giving them to our young tour guide, he had been great and I doubt he would have earned much from taking us around.
We loved Vinales and I will go so far as to say that it was the highlight of our trip to Cuba. However, the time we spent there was too short and it was soon time to jump into a vintage car and make our way back to Havana for our flight out.
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 1 day:
Budget = US$143 (NZ$200)
Accommodation – US$17
Activities – US$30
Food/Drink – US$39
Travel (incl. Taxis) – US$70
Total spent – US$156 (NZ$220)
So we were US$13 (NZ$20) over budget. Pretty much right on target.