Trip to Viñales Valley - Cuba 2016 | Andy's Travelogues

Cuba chapter 6

Trip to Viñales Valley

12. day Viñales Valley A trip to a romantic valley

We have been thinking for a while about spending a day or two in the Viñales Valley, which is second only to Havana among the TOP points that you cannot miss when visiting Cuba. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, we decided to pay for a tourist trip from Havana.

The information for tourists directs us to a 5-star hotel in the center of Havana, where we can arrange an easy trip to this valley. We go to the hotel expecting a huge amount, but surprisingly it is a bearable amount.

From Havana it is a few hours by bus to Viñales, lunch and a visit to a cave and a rum factory are included in the price. The driver mutters something into the microphone and drives off. The views from the bus are full of small and old shacks, an excessive number of medium-sized white birds and an abnormal number of horses that you don’t know if they are free or just pointlessly tied by the road.

Tour of the rum factory

is somehow not very similar to a visit to a Pilsen brewery. It is more like a visit to the cottage of the deceased great-grandmother, which you simply cannot sell in this condition (the cottage, not the great-grandmother!). Three rooms, one with a rum bottling machine, the second a couple of barrels of rum, and the third is more cheerful, where they pour us tastings of several types of Cuban spirits. We gratefully inhale the rum, we ignore the Propinas container (the mouthpiece) like a forester, we squeeze back into the bus with the other 50 tourists and we drive on.

Cuba chapter 6 1

Finally in the valley. Beautiful. Splendid.
Breathtaking. We appear at a viewpoint that looks a bit like a hotel or restaurant balcony.

I’m having a piña colada. In Cuba, it’s not uncommon for them to let you pour as much alcohol as you like. We enjoy the view of the amazingly green valley, which with its depth creates the illusion of seeing through 3D glasses. A live band plays along with it, here and there a person passes by with Propinas for the band, and I enjoy a piñalcoholada that would send even my grandfather to his knees.

And here we could make a little detour to what brought my grandfather to his knees. Because rum and one pint of beer never did it.

What sent my grandfather to his knees

Imagine a 2-meter-tall 50-year-old guy in a secluded Czech village in the backyard of his own bar. A turkey runs here and there against the background of the sty for a couple of pigs and, as it should, a home-made rabbit hutch. In one hand a hatchet from a large ax, in the other hand an obese rabbit, who enthusiastically looks out for the approaching light at the end of the tunnel. I stand in front of him in the eight-year-old version of me, signaling with sad eyes that it’s time. That I’m ready. Grandpa takes a breath and hands me the hatchet.

And that is the story that brought my grandfather to his knees and the rabbit to freedom.

Back to Viñales …

We’ve seen the valley, so hurry back to the mouth of the bus and we’re off to the scribbled rock and for lunch at the restaurant, which is right in front of this masterpiece.
We immediately receive a welcome drink in our hands. This piña colada, on the other hand, does not contain any alcohol, or I can no longer recognize it. Péta doesn’t feel like a welcome drink, but it’s not free and we’re Czechs, Máňo, so I’ll knock it right away. We take lunch off our plates, feed the leftovers to the dogs wandering around, we don’t trust dessert in the form of a flat pudding on a shallow plate, but fuck it. And that would be so that it wasn’t. Just like every day in Cuba, they have prepared a tafka for us. The waiters start cashing out the welcome drinks and of course there’s one for a kilo. This upsets half the tour, but in the end we all pay with our tails down. Consulting with tour organizers does not help. Do you remember how the driver mumbled something into the microphone in the morning? That was information about the fact that in about 5 hours during lunch the drinks at the beginning are not included in the price. We go to the cave. Paintings of Neanderthals and a trip through the cave river on a boat is nice. We snort on the grass and sniff at the ongoing construction of bamboo dwellings.
The last stop is at a tobacco farm. We watch the man in front of us wrap cigars one by one and buy them in packs of 10. One package for 10 CUCs (10$ USD) for me, the other for Peta, shoved in a backpack, a few photos for mom, a sniff of the dryer and back to the bus.

On the way back to Havana, we pass several dozen horse-drawn carriages racing on the highway. They completely occupy both lanes of the road and ignore all the honking of the surrounding vehicles and calmly go 30 km/h as if there was no traffic in Cuba. The sight of them stuck in my memory as well as Viñales himself.