A Week in Cuba - Part 5

We were up and ready at 8 to go with our guajiro guide (country mountain farmer man) Luis on horseback for 4 hours around the magotes, tobacco fields, and underground cave.  He was a cheery, vocal guy.

easy riding.  during that 4 hours I thought about how crazy domestication is.  These large once wild creatures now do anything we want in the hot sun and for what?  I didn't see them get any water or treats or food the whole time.  Its really easy to direct the horses by pulling super gently on the left or right side of the reins. I'm guessing it hurts pretty badly with that bit in their mouth because for the size of animal they are a tiny little tug on the reins shouldn't even be felt by them.


drying tobacco inside a shack.  They dry theirs with a formula of pineapple, honey, and other stuff.

tobacco seeds

a good looking tobacco farmer

choices choices, which one is better?

They grow tobacco for Monte Cristo, Cohiba, and more.  He kept saying how the ones they make and roll right here are all natural.  They pull out the center stem and vein from the leaf which he said contains 90% of the nicotine.  At a factory they leave it in and for cigarettes it gets chopped up and added in, along with chemicals.  Pretty cool and after seeing and hearing all this I can see how you could be into cigars and become a cigar snob.

They use honey as the glue to seal the cigar and the end cap and also dip it in honey when they cut it off to smoke it so it acts as a natural filter.  It was nice with the honey.  We shared a cigar with this guy who smokes 5-6 a day, while our guajiro guide smokes 8 a day.

our rides, Mohato and Caramelo
everything is state regulated even down to when they have to pluck those flowers off so nothing's up to the farmer really.  The leaves at the top that get the most sun are the best and those go to Monte Cristo, the ones below go to Cohiba and so on and the ones at the very bottom are crap and go to making cigarettes.

didn't feel so bad after riding around on a horse and smoking this.

inside the cave.  we met up with several other tourist groups

limestone formations galore

bamboo is not natural to Cuba, Luis said it came from Vietnam (Communist buddy, all the buses are chinese and so are the air conditioners, I bet they have to get a lot of stuff from their communist buddies)

are we having fun yet?  This is the face of amusement? that I was met with every day.
this i the chinese made bus that Viazul uses.  As far as a bus ride goes it wasn't so bad.  They play spanish language music the whole time but it wasn't hot and sweaty or freezing.  I would even say it's better than greyhound (minus the forced rest stop hostage stops).
This insane guy got off somewhere in between Havana and Viñales to ride his touring bike.  Did I mention it's hot as SH!T in Cuba?  95 degrees everyday
our forced rest stop wasn't for that long on the way back and Jen was amazed at how much this looked like one of Tomas Sanchez's painting.  While I was preoccupied with how much it sucked being at this rest stop Jen managed to find the beauty in it.  Good for you guy.

saw lots of billboards with this slogan, Por Favor es tan facil!, Please its so easy!

back in Havana at the top of the Saratoga Hotel clinging to our 1 hour internet ticket for $10

doberman on the rooftop in the middle and a factory flame in the way back that manufactures aluminum stuff (guys on train told us a few days later)

The place on Brasil street that we saw and wanted to try was full and full of tourists so we said gross and gross and turned around and saw Hanoi, which was in a few guide books.  Mojitos were $2 and the food was okay.  In Cuba if you can get okay food then you are lucky.  There's an old joke about how the revolution's 3 greatest failures are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I can confirm that Cuba's food is not so good, and to quote Frommer's you really don't come to Cuba for fine dining.  Jen was at the beginning of Maceo's revenge from something she ate in Viñales so she wasn't feeling like eating much.  I would be fine for the next 2 days but would feel the wrath later on.