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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » Viñales
April 8th 2011
Published: May 24th 2011
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Vinales


Soroa



The final destination on the tour around Cuba is Vinales on the west side of the island. We stop off on the way from Santa Clara to Vinales at Soroa. Soroa probably has quite a lot to offer but as this is a stop-off on the way to Vinales and we just have time to visit the Orchid Garden here. The gardens have more than 25,000 species of orchids from around the world with the microclimate of the region being particularly suitable and it’s not long until I’m filling up another memory card in my camera.


Vinales



Vinales itself is a small town set in a beautiful limestone valley. The limestone has been eroded leaving a lot of interesting rock formations called magotes.

The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage site with a lot of the traditional houses being preserved {and even restored after hurricane damage} and a lot of traditional agricultural techniques being used. This is particularly true for the tobacco growing industry – most of the tobacco used in Cuban cigars comes from this region.

The town of Vinales itself is quite small and we find ourselves staying at a hotel about 5 km from the town. The town is not too small to have a Casa De Musica, of course, and a trip to the house of music is essential. Here we are treated to a local band, Atabey, who I think sound quite good, followed by a singer {Yamila, I think her name was} who likes to belt out a tune like an X-factor wannabee. In fact Yamila seems to be following us around as she turns up at the Paladar where we go to eat the following evening singing some quieter songs and trying to sell her CD.

Our evening’s entertainment is completed with the return of the band accompanied by dancers, playing a more rhythmic Santeria-influenced music. They bring on a fire-eater whose party piece is putting the flames out by putting them down his shorts rather than the traditional fire eating!

The Paladar we eat at the next day, Paladar Cabana, is particularly good with some of the best food I’ve had in Cuba. The owner seems to be keen to take advantage of Cuba’s recently relaxed business laws and using every opportunity to advertise her Paladar and the rooms she has available there.


Cayo Levisa – A Day At The Beach



Cayo Levisa is a small island off the Northern coast of Cuba. It has a white sandy beach, a small hotel and very little else. This makes it a good spot for a day’s relaxation. It’s just less than an hour’s drive from Vinales to the ferry and then about another forty minutes on the ferry. I had really good intentions of spending the day doing lots of swimming and snorkelling here but instead I collapsed into a hammock soon after arriving there and my only movement for the rest of the day was to go and get lunch. Oh well!


Tobacco



My last day in Vinales is spent walking around the area. I’m not an expert in cigars but I believe that Cuban cigars are particularly valued and this is the principal area for tobacco growing and cigar making. The traditional methods for growing and drying tobacco and for making cigars are still used here

A walk out of town soon leads to the tobacco fields and to a farm where we can see the tobacco being dried in barns and cigars being
VinalesVinalesVinales

Tobacco drying
rolled at the farmhouse.

Finally our walk takes through a cave and back into Vinales.

I can’t remember the name of this particular cave. I remember from looking at photos from friends who had been to the area that I had expected to be taken on a boat ride through some caves and to visit some garish paintings of dinosaurs {Apparently these were Fidel’s idea!!}. I suppose one of the downsides of going on an organised tour is that it limits your choices of where to go. Although I didn’t get too upset at missing out on the blue dinosaurs!


Additional photos below
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Casa De MusicaCasa De Musica
Casa De Musica

Belting out a tune
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Vinales

Tobacco fields


24th May 2011

Lovely orchid
Very nice photography.
24th May 2011

Lovely orchid
Thanks!

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