13th April 2011

The little village of Viñales [8] is tucked away in a tranquil green valley of tobacco and vegetable farms with their charming farm houses.  Cigar smoking farmers sit outside on rocking chairs.  They don´t use machinery (or chemicals) on their farms, every square inch is not cultivated, and the whole area has a beautiful uneven and old fashioned look.  The valley has World Heritage status for its huge rocky outcrops (mogotes) and its traditional farms.  The fruits and vegetables taste wonderful.  There are extensive caves in the mogotes, some over 50 kilometres long.  We were able to explore a small one by foot and boat.


After a pleasant morning riding horses in the valley we stopped at one of the farms to see the tobacco leaves drying in sheds and watched while a campesino rolled a cigar whilst explaining the process of growing tobacco, picking, drying and fermenting the different leaves.  In the country, a mixture of rum, lemon juice, honey and water is sprayed on the leaves to help the process (the same ingredients used in a mojito minus the fresh mint).  The smell of fresh cigars almost made us take up smoking!


We´ve eaten some fantastic meals and quite a few lobsters having now spent almost 3 weeks travelling the length of Cuba by public bus and staying in private houses.  In that time we saw relatively few police and even fewer military (none armed), yet felt perfectly safe.  This is not the Cuba we expected and a stark contrast to other Latin American countries.


Viñales lies in a lovely valley

Tobacco drying shed

Tobacco is dried from February to May

Farm house with rocking chairs out front

Tobacco farm

How to make a cigar - start with the leaves

It takes no time at all

Sampling the finished product

Oxen are used to plough the fields - there is no machinery


Jeff on a 4 hour horse trek

Our Casa in Viñales

Front porch barber - every cut the same

Farms in the Viñales Valley

Tobacco growing

Tobacco leaves are handpicked and hung to dry

Typical Viñales street

Main square with abandoned church

Emerging from a cave trip by boat

Bullock cart

Inside is a micro brewery - beer is 10 cents for 2 litres, byo bottles

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