Last year we went on holiday to Cuba. Today, I was shocked to realize that I had forgotten to edit and blog about the last part of that trip! (you can find my other Cuba posts on the Travel section!)
So I opened Lightroom (my photo editor) and searched. The photographs were taken with my so-called party camera: a system Fujifilm x-M1, with the basic kit lens (16 – 50mm). Especially now that I’ve upgraded my equipment I realize that this lens really produces lower quality images with lots of noise and pixel dirt. To my dismay, I also realized that the pics were shot on .jpeg. That is an absolute no-no for a photographer and I cannot imagine why I did this back then, because I very well knew. That said, the Cuba pictures turned out quite beautiful.
Let us pick the story where we left off…
Fear and loathing in Viñales
After our last day in Havana, an old-timer taxi drove us all the way to Viñales. That was money that could have been saved: the road was so bumpy, I was so sick and the taxi driver was a bit of a crook! Yes, he was… I will tell you on another occasion about how he fooled us to bring us to the “best tobacco plantation in the world”. I think the company is fine, Taxi Viñales Cuba, but our driver was a bit awkward.
I don’t remember the Viñales part of our trip very dearly because it’s when my health hit rock bottom. I had a stomach flu for 2 weeks and it is not the nicest state to be traveling around in the heat, especially when you really want to make the most out of your trip. If you are planning a trip to a part of the world where you’ve never been, be sure to fill your necessaire with stomach protector pills, imodium, or whatever your GP can recommend.
Our accommodation was basic but sufficient. When we got to our room, I got the most precious gift of my trip. See, with the whole Cuba thing, I felt like I should be reading Hemingway, so I took The Old Man and the Sea with me. It is a nice book with some very insightful passages but, in my current health status, it wasn’t doing anything to induce a cheerful holiday mood. When I entered our room, I found a book left by a previous guest: Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, by Helen Field (Bridget Jones). Because taking something without leaving something behind is the little brother of Stealing, I left my Hemingway book then and there, and went on to read the best holiday book that I could have come across!
These two pictures were at our Casa (Villa Caricia). One thing I miss about Cuba is that there are rocking chairs everywhere, like it used to be in Spain when I was little. It reminds me of my late grandma and how she would nap everyday on her rocking chair while watching a telenovela.
Look at that! I had only seen those in text books!
The hike of death
While in Viñales, we wanted to hike through the valley. Everybody was advertising guided tours, horse tours, etc. but we had had enough, and decided to go rogue. Only when it was too late we realized why you go with a guide. Since it’s a valley, well, it is difficult to get lost. However, if there have been heavy rains, there are many passages where you can simply not walk if you don’t feel like sticking half of your body into the mud. When things started getting difficult, I had to put my camera back into the backpack. I would say it was one of the most challenging adventures we’ve had! Here are some pictures taken during the pretty parts:
And we’re done!
By the way, remember what I told you about me feeling super sad about animals in Cuba? Just take a look at the picture below 🙁
Here we did what I swore I would never do in Cuba. But we were so exhausted and home was still so far away that we didn’t have a choice 🙁
Eating in Viñales
We ate at the best place ever in Viñales, 3J Tapas bar. They had very good tapas and the cold cuts looked like something you would actually like to eat. See, when you are so sick in your stomach and have been eating either rice or chicken for weeks, the sight of something as simple as spinach ravioli can really make you cry. I mean this literally, I did cry. I began to understand that, as you move towards the south in Cuba, food becomes better (comparing with Havana) and there is also a wider variety of vegetables. Eating some greens felt indescribably good.
Resurrecting in Cienfuegos
We booked a room at Casa Angel e Isabel, and we had a rather pleasant surprise — the best accommodation so far! Instead of staying in the city center of Cienfuegos, we booked at Punta Gorda, which is a neighbourhood that has the most incredible French colonialism period homes, along with access to the water. This was such a treat! Scroll down to see some pictures. We even had our own little pier at the house! The food at our casa was also very good, better than at some of the restaurants we went to. The couple of days at Cienfuegos were the best of the holiday for me, simply because we were finally at the sea, and I could suntan and read and swim. Turns out, I like adventure but I enjoy much more the relax type of holiday 😉
Trinidad is a very lively town with some great entertainment (e.g., sitting at Casa de la Música at night is really nice), and you can easily reach Playa Ancón, which is a famous beach in the south, the kind with white sand and clear water 🙂 If you want to go to Playa Ancón it takes about 40 minutes by bike (17km) but most of the bikes that you can rent in Trinidad have these iron saddles with only a leather cover and after a while they are painful! On our way back from the beach we kept on seeing the same people over and over taking a break. We were not the only ones that couldn’t handle those seats!
Yup, meat looks really trustworthy and yummy! I shall never worry cause it took me 45 min to make it home with un-refrigerated meat in my shopping bag.
At this café, right next to the Casa de la Música, we had the best sangría ever! As you can see, we also visited the local market and even Flo got some ornaments.
One last stop before flying home
Before we flew home, we spent a couple of days at the beach in Jibacoa. It started pouring like crazy and our time at the beach was a rather short romance. Flo could go snorkeling and had the time of his life, claiming to have been one with all the fishes! It was the only time during our holiday that we stayed at a regular hotel (a resort, in this case) and it felt good not to have to interact with people the whole time in order to go about our day. It is not that I am antisocial, but with Flo not speaking Spanish, I had to do all the dealings during our trip and by then I was exhausted! The beach at Jibacoa was paradise, it’s such a shame we couldn’t enjoy it a little bit more! I only managed to take a picture or two.
So that was the end of our big 2016 holiday! I can’t wait to go somewhere for a long trip!
♥ Ingrid ♥