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.
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!
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!
Day 2: Exploring Viñales
Watch Don Julio make us a cigar!
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!
Meanwhile, Jack was having fun diving through underwater caves!
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!)