A Week in Cuba - Part 4

The highlight of our trip, depending on who you talk to was our trip to Valle de Viñales on the western side of Cuba.  It's famous for its magotes (karst limestone mountains), tobacco fields, various other crops, hiking, horseback riding, and caves.

The Viazul bus system was touted online as being one of the few things that actual work in Cuba and I guess they're right.  Having to take a taxi to and from the station in Havana just to buy tickets was annoying and time consuming.  The 3 ladies sitting around the ticket desk didn't even bat an eyelash when we came up.  This is the case in many jobs in Cuba, almost like they don't care about making money and could care less about helping a customer.  Maybe this is the case because its state run and there is no incentive for them to work that hard?  The bus one way is 4 hours (it's a 1.5 hour drive but you'll learn why it's 4 hrs by bus soon).

The bus left 20 minutes early, A european guy had to get up and get the driver to stop because his wife was still in the bathroom in the station and several other people boarded after that too.  The one thing that gets done early is the departure of the bus, ha.  So here we are in an "economic hostage" situation at this rest stop somewhere on the way to Viñales where you can be sure the driver gets a commission from this place taking tourists money that have no choice because it's hot and he said its a 45 min "lunch break".  

why do dogs always find me and want to be my pal?

we finally get to Viñales.  As we were getting off the bus we felt like Korean movie stars because there was a mob of Cubans that were so happy to see us literally mobbing the door making it hard to get off the bus.  They of course wanted us to stay at their casa particular.  We already arranged for one online and were at the front of the bus so we were able to escape when the mob turned their attention to the rest of the peeps getting off the bus.  One of the streets with tons of casas on it is only a 5 min walk from the center of town/bus stop/town square

we stayed at Villa Vista Al Valle with Osiris and Dunia.  Being able to see this from the back porch was what sold us online and it is selling us now.  They were both awesome and most things about this trip were the best out of our Cuba trip.

arrived just in time to sit on the back porch and drink beer in the rocking chairs and wait for this 20 min shower to pass

tried for so long to get a lighting strike on camera, jen finally got one.

time to go walk around the cute little town.  Aguacate (avocados) grow in pairs and resemble testicles which is why the entomology of the word comes from some proto aztecan word for testicle.  There were trees with fruits and avocados everywhere I just wanted to grab those nuts and bite 'em

as you know baseball is huge in Cuba

saw a tiny statue elsewhere and it was José Marti (Cuban national hero poet turned independence getter from Spain) so guessing this is him as well?

lots of buzzards in Cuba, even in Havana.  Hawks too, we even saw a hawk in a personal cage on the street.

everyone here loves Che for realz.  They love Fidel too.  Raul not so much

birthday cake holdin'

Cuba has two forms of money, Moneda Nacional which isn't worth that much and Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC).  when we went CUC was basically the same with the US dollar so 1 CUC = 1 USD more or less.  1 CUC = 25 pesos.  Everyone wants CUC because it's hard currency and you can buy all kinds of stuff with it where as the less valuable pesos you can only buy certain things like eggs or bread from those state run stores.  This is what i know to be true and not a very good explanation.  In the end we used almost no pesos and in any situation we might end up in I think the people would be more than happy to take the CUC off our hands if we didn't have pesos.  The guy on the front of the 5 peso bill is Antonio Maceo, a hero helping expel the Spanish and gain independence for Cuba.  More on Maceo when we get to the Maceo's revenge part of the trip which Bob will find funny for sure.

asked for something local and he poured me these huge pours and took two shots with me at the bar.  It's some kind of Viñales region rum.  We were well buzzed after these and 2 mojitos before that.  These cups of rum were $1 each!!!!

this little dude was straight up laying in the street too.  Huge trucks would rumble by but sleepy little dude was unflappable.

most dogs seem like no one's dogs in Cuba.  I've seen a few that have owners.

Osiris's ride.

bench on top of roof

The Germans and Jen before dinner time.  Jen did not want to talk to them at all so we didn't

our cowboy guide the next day made a joke about this being marijuana but it's not, i think it was like sweet potatoes 

wasn't able to get a good capture but there were little chickens stacked up on top of bigger chickens I swear

after a wander down the road it was time for dinner.

this was tied for the best or second best thing we ate on the trip depending on who you talk to.  Some kind of beef, soup, yucca.  Good stuff.  Oh you can see the ubiquitous cabbage and cucumbers that seem like they are a part of every Cuban dinner.

sun showing out one last time.
again with the dogs finding me of all people to hang out with.  I swear I don't call these dogs over or anything.

you read around online that there's a locals price and a gringo price for everything.  Here's proof for once.  15 pesos for Cuban nationals or 1 convertible peso for foreigners.  So it's like half price for Cubans.