Anonymous, who is so wise about so many things, appears to have been born before the U.S. embargo, which among many other things, outlawed Cuban cigars in the U.S. In addition to the forbidden fruit aspect of the Cuban cigar, the beauty of the Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s tobacco growing region lured us to Vinales, the region’s center. Our 1954 Plymouth managed the two and a half hour drive from Hemingway Marina with a bit of encouragement from Raul, our driver. Our hosts for the day were Juan and Elena owners of Villa de la Finca. After serving us lunch, we mounted Mojito, Mulatto and Coco Loco for a four hour horse back tour of tobacco country, coffee growing station and the national park. As dusk descended over the Valley, Elena served us a lobster feast on the roof top of their house.
Our ride to the valley.
Villa de La Finca, our base for exploring the countryside. The Villa is a Casa Particulares, a privately owned and operated guest home. We did not spend the night but the guest room was well kept and had its own bathroom. Further information can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org wwwtriptovinales.com. For more on tourism and entrepreneurship in Vinales see:
The chair is as comfortable as it is beautiful.
Our ride through the valley.
Tobacco plants against a backdrop of mogotes, the steep sided remains of limestone deposits that makes the Pinar del Rio so stunning.
Photo credit: Keith Seiler
Our host Josel, dubbed the “holy roller” by Keith quickly rolled a cigar. He dipped the end in honey, a local tradition, before offering it to us. Photo credit: Keith Seiler
Twenty unmarked, handrolled Cuban cigars for $60. We were unaware that the rules for bringing in cigars back to the U.S. had recently been relaxed and passed on the deal. Photo credit: Keith Seiler.
Eric has his hands full. Photo credit: Keith Seiler.
Half way through our trip we stopped at a hut where coco locos almost magically appeared. Photo credit: Keith Seiler.
Our guides, Andres (who also helped us explore Havana) and Juan of Villa de la Finca.
Eulalie and Juan exchange hats. Photo credit: Keith Seiler.
More mogotes rising majestically out of the valley floor.
Coffee drying at the hill station. The plastic bottles hold the finished product.
Lobster tails in the mid ground, yucca, cucumbers and tomatoes, rice, beans and flan capped off a memorable day in the mountains.
Elizabeth Jean’s crew and our host and hostess, Juan and Elena. When we left it felt like leaving family.