VIÑALES & MARÍA LA GORDA

VIÑALES

We arrived in Viñales at midday (peak temperature time!), thankfully Viñales’ cooling mountain breeze prevents the usual  sticky equatorial humidity which leaves you exhausted and sweaty within 5 minutes of being outside! We walked along the main street for 20 minutes chapping on the doors of various Casas Particulares until we found the perfect one – and we managed to convince mama to accommodate us for $21 a night including breakfast! We had a lovely double bedroom with an ensuite at the back of the house (separate to the main house) and our own terrace and sheltered eating/drinking area!

We spent 3 days in Viñales, admiring its striking mogotes (boulder-like hills), visited a local cigar plantation, walked around caves which once housed fleeing African slaves, splashed around in a 1920’s swimming pool in the beautiful Los Jasmines hotel, watched a tropical thunder storm, which was followed by a breathtaking sunset and partied with some local Cubanos. We also took a day trip to María La Gorda, where Jack went scuba diving as I relaxed on a deserted beach and splashed around in crystal clear waters.

Day 1: Partying with the locals

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Mama (our Casa Particular mama) prepared us a banquet of langoustines, beef, black bean stew, Cuban potatoes, salad and rice – it was absolutely incredible and it only cost $16! Her son then joined us for a mojito and he invited us to his and his girlfriends house for a few drinks. As we were walking to their house, we caught a glimpse of another perfect sunset but this time instead of setting above crumbling buildings, it set above bolder like hills – magical!

We made and drank daiquiris and smoked cuban cigars on the balcony before we went to Casa de la Musica (the club!) I’m wearing jersey runner shorts from Topshop, a cotton cami from ASOS and Havaiana flip flops!

Inside the Casa de la Música were fire eaters, Cuban dancers, a live band and being the only tourists, we were surrounded by local Cuban families and friends. All of this for a 63p entrance fee, it ended up being a surreal but amazing night. We drank mojitos, salsa danced enjoyed the show and integrated with the locals – one of my favourite nights in Cuba!

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Day 2: Exploring Viñales

The next day, our taxi driver Louis, drove us around for 3 hours showing us all must-see sites in Viñales valley.
The next day, our taxi driver Louis, drove us around for 3 hours showing us all must-see sites in Viñales valley.
Around 160 million years ago, these mogotoes were formed by erosion during the Jurassic era. The rainfall dissolved the limestone, flattening the landscape leaving behind  these bizarre looking hills now coated in layer of vegetation, which look as if they’ve been dropped from the sky onto the valley floor! This is a photograph of the famous Mogote Dos Hermanas (the Twin Sisters).
El Cuevo del Indio onced housed the runaway slaves before Guanajatabey Indians built their primitive homes made from limestone mogotes. Remains of theses Nomadic people have been found embedded in the rock.
El Cuevo del Indio onced housed the runaway slaves before Guanajatabey Indians built their primitive homes made from limestone mogotes. Remains of theses Nomadic people have been found embedded in the rock.
The vest top I’m wearing is from ASOS, my scrunchie is from eBay and my sunglasses are from Tens!

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Cigar farmer Don Julio gave us a tour around his cigar farm, he told us about each stage of the cigar manufacturing process and rolled a cigar for Jack to try! He also told us that Romeo and Juliet cigars are traditionally rolled on the inner thigh of a virgin woman!

He kindly welcomed us into his family home for a Cuban coffee (coffee with a shot of rum!)

Watch Don Julio make us a cigar!


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With views like this, the swimming pool in Hotel Los Jazmines was the perfect place to relax after a morning of sightseeing.
My bikini top is from H&M and my bikini bottoms are from ASOS!

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Sadly, splashing around in the colonial-like pool was cut short as a thunder storm came on within 15 minutes of us jumping in! Instead, we had some cocktails and watched the thunderstorm for a couple of hours until it was safe to go back outside.
DANGER
And from NO WHERE, this beautiful sky appeared!
And from NO WHERE, this beautiful sky appeared!

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MARÍA LA GORDA

Day 3: Beach day

We set off at 8am to head for María La Gorda, the most western point of Cuba and closest point to Mexico. A journey estimated to take 3-4 hours…took 2 thanks to some suicidal driving. We were clinging onto our seats until I managed to fall asleep and block it all out! Nevertheless, we arrived by 10am which meant Jack was on time for his dive and that I had a full day of sunbathing and exploring!

I wanted to find the perfect sunbathing spot so I walked for 1.5km along this deserted beach to find it!
I kept walking and walking..
I kept walking and walking..
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I climbed over these bushes…
I walked past this idyllic view…
and..FOUND IT! There wasn’t a soul in site, I sat on the edge of a rock and dangled my feet into the clear blue.
I watched hundreds of newly hatched butterflies fly over my head...
I watched hundreds of newly hatched butterflies fly over my head…

and I splashed around for hours, collected some coral to bring home and fell in love with the views and complete serenity!
and I splashed around for hours, collected some coral to bring home and fell in love with the views and complete serenity!

Meanwhile, Jack was having fun diving through underwater caves!

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We went back to Viñales (another near-death journey) just in time for another banquet prepared by mama and this time we were joined by a Danish couple. We dined, exchanged stories and had a nice early night in preparation for our 6 hour journey to Trinidad the following morning (my next post on Trinidad & Panama is coming soon!)

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