A day out with The Boys

Sat 14 Jan 2012 02:58
Our plans to rent a 6 person vehicle thwarted (for the time being anyway), we all decided to take another means of transport to visit the western part of Cuba.   For around CUC 100 per couple, we hired the services to 2 young men (Robin & Miguel) and their 2 black 1950’s cars.  Arriving promptly at 0800,  we agreed the men would go in Robin’s car and the women in Miguel’s.   The journey was mainly on a motorway basically devoid of vehicles and the boys were driving their cars at their maximum speed of 70mph, which was astonishingly noisy!   It was at this point that most of us thought “don’t think there would be much chance of surviving a RTA in this”.  Anyway 2 or so hours later we were in the Pinar del Rio province and once off the motorway, we climbed up the Sierra de Organos mountains for a coffee break and to admire the panoramic view overlooking the Vinales valley.
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Robin & Miguel and our first stop to admire the view over looking the Vinales valley
The Hotel Jazmines, once the home of a very wealthy planter, now converted to an expensive tourist hotel
The 2 cars and Miguel showing Michael his re-furbished engine!
The Cuban CA day out (from left to right, Sandy & Brian, Chris & Steve, Anne & Michael)
After a drive through the pretty colonial town of Vinales we arrived at a tobacco farm.  The farmer welcomed us into his field and took us into his thatched curing shed where harvested tobacco leaves were hung to dry.  He gave us a demonstration on cigar making, after which he lit one up and offered it around, which I and Michael declined.  I whispered to Michael that I thought all cigars were rolled on a lady’s naked thigh, which he thought was very amusing!  We were invited into the house for more coffee and cigars and after a quick wonder round the rest of the farm we drove through the valley between sheer limestone cliffs and proceeded to the Cueva del Indio. A cave, which we explored on foot, followed by a short boat ride on an underground lake. 
In the tobacco fields and the farmer telling us about the tobacco leaves
Now he’s showing us how to make a cigar and within minutes...................
Having a sneaky one outside!                                                         Chris & I enjoying some relaxation (Robin in the foreground)
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Inside the quaint house for coffee and more cigars!
Outside; a picturesque scene of countryside life (reminds me of something ‘Constalblist’?)
The boat tour of the Cueva del Indio
More caves and moving on for our lunch stop (sorry not the best photo of us)!
Our lunch stop involved going up a number of side roads to what we think was one of the boys relatives’ restaurant, but the food was good and plentiful. We then set off to see the Mogote Dos Hermanos (Two Brothers Mogote).  This is a gaudy painted mural of the evolutionary journey from amoeba to homo sapiens.
The painted mural in the hillside (we think re-painted once a year!) and the limestone scenery we drove through
The return journey was equally as noisy, but we got back to the marina just after 1700.  Overall an thoroughly enjoyable day out and what an experience!
Safely back and thanks to the Boys for an excellent day out.  By the way I’m holding a handmade banana leaf basket, which I purchased en route!