Viñales, Cuba : A Timeless Gem
In our recent trip to Cuba, one of the first places we decided to visit was Viñales, about 2 1/2 hours southwest of Habana, near Pinar Del Rio.
We wanted to see the famous mogotes, the limestone “haystack” mountains so prominently featured in the area. So off we went with Pedro, our chofer…
Although it rained almost the entire day we were undeterred…our first stop was El Parque Nacional de Viñales.
Viñales is a place where time seems to stand still – there are very few cars. Bicycles, horse-drawn buggies and ox-drawn wagons are much more common.
The largest crop is tabaco, so chozas (kiln houses) are everywhere. Their primary purpose is to secar, or cure the tobacco leaf.
A small, cosecha de tabaco clandestino. Free, or “clandestine” crops are set asides for the farmers to sell, and not controlled (i.e. owned) by the Cuban government.
Tabacos here can be bought at wholesale for much less than their Cuban stamped counterparts.
Life is simple and uncomplicated here (well, as uncomplicated as is possible in Cuba).
Thatched, terracotta or corrugated tin roofs are the order of the day.
Mother and daughter taking a break from the chores of the day. They graciously posed for us.
Obviously, there is much more to Cuba than old classic cars and Habana Vieja. The countryside is stunningly beautiful and as of yet largely unspoiled. Life is very different from that of chaotic Habana, and the pace is slow and unhurried. Viñales reminded me a great deal of some places I frequented as a boy when I lived in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The rampant commercialism so prevalent here in the United States had not yet penetrated el campo de Borinquen (the Puerto Rican countryside) back then. Apparently, it has yet to reach Viñales; hopefully it will remain pristine and untouched.