Into the country side
Trip Start Dec 12, 2007
39Trip End Ongoing
As we started arriving in Vinales about an hour and a half later, I was blown away by the view out the window. There were absolutely huge limestone looking mountains rising straight up with round tops. Lots and lots everywhere, with a similar shape to the ones advertised on nearly every Thailand photo. We soon were in the centre of Vinales, which is a very small town in the valley of these rounded mountains. It has only one main street with a few dirt roads coming off of it. As the bus stopped and we got off, we were swamped with dozens of locals offering CasaŽs to stay in. We originally ignored all of their shoutings and offerings to pick up our backpacks. However we were soon persueded by one that was offering 15 CUC for the both of us for a night only 3 minutes walk away, so we accepted.
Arriving out our Casa de Familia, she showed us around their backyard that had clusters of about 9 different fruit trees. Some I had never heard of before. We had a bit of a laugh as she spoke absolutely no english, and we spoke very little Espanol. But it was fun! There were chickens, goats, pigs and dogs running around everywhere making a whole collection of noises. This place looked great! Our room was also very clean and a fantastic place to sleep in
After getting settled, they gave us some food on the house and we headed off to see a bit of the place. We found a dirt track that lead out of the town towards the mountains that we took. It lead eventually to the tobaco farms which they use to put in the Cigars Cuba is famous for. The countryside was very lovely and we managed to get some good pictures close to the mountains. We then headed back to walk around Vinales as its such a lovely village with clean streets, school children everywhere and a generally very happy vibe!
That night we went back to the Casa to have dinner. First we got stuck into a few pool games in which they play religiously in this family. Not sure of the game they were playing, as it took us a while to get used to it, but was fun. They gave us some rum, which didnt exactly help our game, but the rum was fantastic! (its cuba!). Now for dinner... It was absolutely huge. We counted 9 plates of food for just the two of us! We never actually finished it, as if we ate one more mouthfull, we wouldnt of been able to walk!
The next morning I awoke at 4.45am to the sound of about 100 roosters! We moved for the kitchen for breakfast
The lady had organised a couple of bikes for us to cruise around on for the day. They shotty breaks and buckled wheels... Good enough for us! haha. We hit the road and just kept riding out of town. We rode through a gap in the mountains that tower over Vinales and kept pushing on. The scenery quickly became even more jungle than it was already. Lots of wild palm trees linning the road. We managed to stupidly build up quite a bit of speed on the down hill, which is not a very good idea when the bike has bugger all breaks and a buckeled wheel, haha. Soon we were very alone on the road in the middle of the jungle, only to pass villages every now and then. We had rode a good 20km north west of Vinales. We kept pushing on riding passed huge round mountains as everytime weŽd pass one, we would see another in the distance and try and reach that. After 25 - 30km we could see just trees as far as the eye could see, so we turned back. The ride was long and hot. I had to take my shirt off as I was sweating soo much. The wind across my skinny, food deprived (up until now anyhow) body was sweet
The day was long and tiring so we returned to our Casa de familia. She was already preparing dinner for us, which was fish. We sat down at our table to realise that once again there was 9 dishes of food just for us! We had fish, bean stew, rice, bread, banana, popaya, onions, capsicum and a few other thins I wasnt sure of. By the end of the meal we had eaten so so much food and were rubbing our full bellies. Impossible to eat all of it!
In the morning I awoke once again at 4.45 to the sound of bloody Roosters marking their territory! We got ready and headed outside to see how much a bus was too the beach today. We met this French couple in which I couldnt pronounce their names. We all shared a cab driver to the beach Cayo Jutias. It is a small non touristy beach on the north Caribbean side of Cuba
In the night I had broken Spanglish conversation with one of the guys that lives here. It was mind opening as he gave me an insight as to what its like to live in Cuba. The socialismo (socialist state) that Cuba operates in is interesting. The kids all get very good and cheap education, along with the health system being one of the best and cheapest in the world. However the people live far beyond the poverty line. The average wage is about 10-15 CUC per month (approx 8 - 13 dollars per month). People have to grow their own food to survive and rely heavily on people like myself that come wondering off the streets for a place to stay. It takes 4 days work to afford a bus ticket to the closest town. Even if they some how had money to attempt to leave for a while to get extra cash, they couldnt as the government wont let them