On this morning, Dave woke up feeling pretty bad. The plan for the day was to hike a couple miles out to a tobacco field and see where it grows, how it gets processed, and then how it’s rolled into cigars. I left Dave to sleep and went with the group on the hike.
It was quite warm and the sun was really beating down; I was very glad I had brought a shade shirt. We walked out into a tobacco field and then it gave way to a field of mint. The countryside was set against dramatic clouds and bright blue sky.
We saw all kinds of critters: a horse being re-shoed, oxen, dogs, cats, chickens, fighting cocks, goats, cows, and even some kind of giant rat.
The guide explained that cock fighting is an old tradition, but I had never seen this – they plucked the leg and butt feathers of the roosters. They look a little…well…naked.
Inside the tobacco house, we got to watch a worker roll a cigar and then we all got to try them. Maybe to the trained cigar smoker, they were nice, but I mostly enjoyed the honey they put on the end. Here is Jim (el guapo) smelling the tobacco and smoking a cigar:
Along the walk, I met a lovely woman named Fiona who had been working for the Discovery channel as a producer. She was British and traveling alone in Cuba. She had hired a guide, but he had her come along on our trek to the tobacco fields. Interesting to hear about an experience with just her and a guide – she rode in a taxi with him all the way from Havana and then he insisted on escorting her places even when she wanted to explore alone.
When we were done with the (very hot) walk, we returned to pick up Dave and head out to lunch. We went to a paladar and had the usual: rice/beans, mais, yuca, squash, and others had chicken/lamb/pork.
After lunch, we went to a water-filled cave where you take a boat ride through it. I wasn’t interested in it, so I took a nap in the bus to recover from the walk.
When they all returned, we went back to Vinales and tried to nicely convince our homestays that we didn’t want to eat with them. There was a cute “strip” of restaurants and bars that we wanted to check out with Tina and Deepak. Apparently, there was some kind of miscommunication because our host was pretty mad that we weren’t going to eat there.
If I had it to do over again, I would have eaten at the homestay and then had drinks out – the food out was still no better than any of the food we had been eating and of course it was more expensive than at “home.”
By the end of the day, I checked my Apple health tracker and we had walked 6.98 miles!