When the airplane approaches the runway for landing I understand that IT has started.
The vegetation is dense but low, the soil is vivid red and the Sunset tainted horizon is only disrupted by palm trees. Hello Cuba.
In Havana I stayed at Casa particular de Ania, I had a good recomendation from Helena and the simpathy of the owners did not let my expectations down.
Next morning I had a 40 min walk from the Casa to Havana Vieja (old town) via the Malecon, the water front. This is deffinitly the best way to start a morning, the sound of the waves jumping over the sidewalk, the the musicians and the fishermand make this place a perfect place for reflexion and to appreciate the enchantements of the colonial architecture.
I meet with a group of people from the Casa at Plaza de Armas, and made a walking tour of on the old town turistic sites. My favourite was plaza de la Catedral where the pleople spontanously start dancing to the rythms of Salsa coming from one of the bands. (too many Mojitos?).
Next day I visited the cemitery Cristobal Colon where most important personalities of the Cuban history are buried, I continued to plazza de la Revolution where one can find monuments of the 3 most important people of Cuba, Jose Marti, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. I then visited the University, and the day could only be complete with a 2 hour Salsa class and drinks at the Malecon.
It was now time to go for a 2 day trip to Vinales, and although the 3h bus ride the was fully booked, I managed a good bargning price with a taxi colectivo shared with other travellers. The beauty of Vinales is revealed as one enters the valley, when the unique cenary of mountains covered with dense vegetation is presented. The town is one street, with houses on both sides, a plaza central with a casa de la musica, animal-pulled wagons and relaxed people.
Atfer a criollo lunch with beans, rice, yukan and very little meat, I was riding a pregnant female horse called Gaviota. Gaviota knew the way and all i had to to was to make her stop time to time.
The tour passed in Lago Arenas Blancas, with a stop for a swim in a little island, and a visit to the casa del campesino, where I learned how to do the best Mojito in Cuba, and the whole process of the tabaco plant until it becomes a Puro (Cigar).
At the time of the second mojito the Sun was low in the valley and we sang traditional cuban songs.
The end of the day finished in Casa de la musica, with live music and dance performance with fire spitting. Impressive!
-second part coming soon-