Pinar Del Rio, probably is the best tobacco growing region in the world. If you have ever had the chance of smoking a top Cuban cigar, chances are the tobacco came from here. At this time of year the tobacco has been harvested and is drying in the house like structures layer upon layer, 3 months to grow and 3 months to dry, it is shipped off to the factories, like the partargas factory in Havana for subsequent making into cigars. This area is gorgeous, check out the photos with this article. Its what makes vinales a must do thing on anyone's list. On this tour I also met Floyd a very knowledgeable guide at the visitor centre just 5 minutes from the jasmine hotel on the green bus tour route. I organised to join- wait for it 2 more Irish guys and a Belgian a tour round the immediate area for 10 CUC the following day. I had also arranged for a horse ride that same afternoon of the tour, so that was a full day. This place is one of the most beautiful I know and I shall return,return to the Mogotes , palm trees and fields and fincas (farms). During the horse ride I saw the tobacco drying and smoked some of the stuff, it really smells so lovely being inside the drying houses. I didn't want to but the farmer wanted me to buy some roughish rolled esplendidos size cigars after plying me with a coconut and some rum...I had to take 10 in the end, and wasn't so happy but it worked out in the end. I mean I didn't think at the time I was going to smoke them and I couldn't give them away. But any time I saw dera (who joined a day later) he had some rum and a cigar and the smoking cigars while out thing kind of stuck. Even today I went to tesco's here in tooting bec with a cigar and it was regal ! In the sun wishing I were there in the Cuban streets or plazas with rum and some women around to make it interesting. Back to the horse ride and in fact a dip in a lake. Earlier in the day a poor guy came up and didn't ask for money but a pen, I obliged with my freebie from virgin and he was really happy ???
The Trek and Champions league Drama
It was one of the better things I have done since being in Cuba, floyd had great English and my Spanish was making me concentrate the day before so today I could learn and relax about tobacco and the countryside for 3 blissful hours- It was the only occasion I forgot my camera ! We passed right through one Mogote and descended the other side. If you have time there are longer more interesting treks and visitng Aquatecos peoples if you can would be awesome. These are still pretty indigenous and don't live outside their communities. The government stopped floyd doing this trek these days. The 2 Irish guys were flying down to Baracoa on the furthest end of the island the following day and this gave ammunition to the cause that was to be if I decided to do Baracoa or not. I took my GPS tracker and Floyd joked about me being CIA with all my gadgets. Also Floyd invited me to join him for the game and John the Irish guy also wanted to see it so we were to get a taxi up to the jazmine hotel. We met a girl sitting down at the bar cheering on Manchester called Gaia, who was a student up there but originally from Brighton. She was travelling with Jack and he was at the other hotel watching the game due to a mix up. The game - well enough said, but we drank rum and enjoyed being by the pool after and there was a kiwi guy who was pretty interesting there also he gave us all a lift back to town as the jasmine isn't really walkable, I know I tried to run it previously. That evening we met jack and they were interested in coming to cayo levisa with me in the morning, it was to be a return to the beach for me and more diving.
An almost full bus meant that both jack and Gaia almost didn't get on. It was lovely to meet a couple that were so young travelling, that day was a really good day on the beach, a stunning unspoilt resort, no you couldn't call it that it blended in and the side we were it was very hidden, and round the end it was really like a desert beach. The trip was bloody good so far. I had the intention of diving but the equipment was away being serviced in Havana, such a shame I wanted to report on it. Returning on the bus I was facing a dilema to stay longer or head for Trinidad, I was having a great time and by now the group had grown to quite an impressive bunch. Still I was to burn a trail for all of them to come ;)