Day 4 - Travel to the countryside - Vinales

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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » Viñales
May 30th 2017
Published: June 12th 2017
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Today was another travel day. We were up early as our driver arrived at 8 am to take us to Viñales. We have been told it is anywhere from a two to four-hour trip. The good thing was that most of our luggage including backpacks fit in the trunk of our car, but we had no A/C. So everyone had a seat for the trip. The drive was long and slow in the old car. The old cars are nice to look at, but when every trip you take is in an old, uncomfortable car, the novelty wears off. The backseat has springs and cloth to cover them and nothing else. While Chester was sitting high on the hog in the front seat, Megan, Riley and Kirsten had springs up their butt and bounded to the ceiling with every bump in the road. Megan had the added comfort of a bar in the middle to land on. Our driver struggled to find the home where we were staying. He asked several locals where the place was, but continued to drive up and down the same street like it would magically appear if he drove the same street one more time.

We were able to stop at the bank and exchange money, which in and of itself was a pain in the butt. We opened the door and were immediately greeted by a “security guard” who pointed at us to go outside and wait. The bank was too crowded. Seriously there were only 5 or 6 people in there. So we waited for about 15 minutes and were finally allowed inside, where we got to wait for another 15 minutes for a teller. Then when it was finally our turn, that teller does not do money exchange. So we waited for the next teller where Rico Suave was doing business. His transaction had been completed 10 minutes earlier, but he continued to talk to the teller. Finally, he backed away from the window and Kirsten walked up to change money. Our transaction was going smoothly until Rico Suave decided to talk to our teller on his way out. Our girl stops dealing with Kirsten talks to Ricky Martin for another 5 minutes. He is finally out of tellers to talk to and caresses Kirsten on the arm before hugging the security guard. And he knew the next customer coming into the bank and talked to her as well. The teller finally gave Kirsten some attention, but counted the Canadian dollars no less than 5 times. Then she had to record every serial number in the computer with her large talons for fingernails and of course we had many small bills. Now we have money to pay the taxi driver. We hurry back to the car where the girls are still inside sweaty like pigs. They did not realize they could open the door or get out. Forty-five minutes later, we found the house two blocks away. The driver refused to just call the owner to get directions and instead asked locals who all gave him different directions.

Our hosts were wonderful, Pavel and Yudy. He was the nicest, sweetest man and wanted to help us with all our accommodations. We had two rooms to choose from, one that was pink and one that was coral/peach. And when we mean pink and coral, everything in the rooms were those colors. The only thing we really cared about was that it had A/C. Kirsten picked this AirAnB because Pavel did have limited English AND A/C. We were greeted with fresh mango juice and the majors (Kirsten and Chester) were given Cuban cigars. After picking rooms, the minors in pink, the majors in coral, we changed clothes for our excursion of horseback riding all arranged by our hosts. A taxi took us about 15 minutes out of town to a tobacco plantation. We learned how they made the cigars and Chester even smoked part of one. She couldn’t finish it.

We moved on from learning about the cigars to hoping on horses for a ride around the area. This was another first for Megan: horse-back riding. All our horses were named after drinks: mojito, tequila, daiquiri, and George (otherwise known as D.B). For some reason Chester always gets the mean horse. But in reality the horse sense Chester’s fears and takes advantage of it. Tequila always wanted to be first and would bite at Mojito and actually kicked Mojito a few times when she tried to pass. The trail and landscape was beautiful. It is a mountainous area where they grow the tobacco and coffee beans. We made our way to a coffee bean place and a worker explained how the harvest the coffee bean. It was also here where the majors were given a complimentary shot of rum. Let’s just say it burned on the way down, no Bueno. The girls drank coconut milk straight from the shell. They didn’t like it that much either. We continued on our way to a cave. It was $2/person so we were willing to pay that since a cave meant coolness. We walked through the cave, and saw some bats. It was cool inside, but that only killed about 15 minutes. Back on the horses to the lake. It was nothing spectacular, but our guide was able to sit down with his friends and have a beer while we looked at a lake. We killed another 15 minutes and then back on the horses to head back to where we started. We did manage to borrow some sunscreen for Megan’s shoulders which were as pink as her room. It was fun, and the ride was scenic and a nice, quiet change of pace from Havana. After the horse-bike ride was went back to town and arranged for a taxi ride to Cayo Levisa, which was our next destination: The beach! The minors had been jonesing to go to the beach and they were going to get 3 full days on a private island. We were all a little excited to be able to relax and do the fun activities that the website said were available to do.

We made it back to Pavel and Yudy’s where we were greeted again with huge smiles and warm hospitality. It was only a few dollars more for a taxi to the port than to take the bus, so Kirsten arranged for a taxi with A/C!!! to take us on the 40-minute drive. She forgot that Pavel wanted to arrange everything for us, and so we might have played dumb and said we didn’t understand what we did, even though the travel agent spoke excellent English, and we are pretty sure Pavel knew this! O’ well.

For dinner, Pavel walked us around the corner about 2 blocks to a restaurant that meant it was Chinese food. But it was really just Cuban food. It was a great meal and our server was very kind. We decided to walk around the small town for a bit after dinner. It was quaint and safe.

We walked back to our place for the night and retreated to our pink and coral rooms. We did have tv, five channels that provided Cuban news, Cuban music, cartoons and horrible movies or tv shows. Every once in a while a show will be in English, but it is a really bad show that none of us has ever heard of. Good thing we have i-pads and down loaded movies on Netflix.

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