After the hot and busy Havanna it was nice to breath in the fresh air of Vinales, a town in the eastern part of Cuba. Vinales is a really cute little town where everyone seems to have caught on to the (only?) way for ordinary Cubans to make an extra dollar – renting out a room in your house. You are allowed to rent out a maximum of two rooms to a seemingly fixed rate, and many people make the most of the opportunity. At least Castro has not managed to kill the entrepreneurial spirit of his people!

Vinales street view
For app. 30 CUC (Cuba Convertible Peso aka foreign money), the equivalent of $30, you can rent a room at somebody’s house and live together with the family. Nicer way to experience Cuba than staying at a hotel.

Vinales is surrounded by breathtaking mogotes, residual limestone formations, and endless tobacco plantations. How best to experience this wonderful landscape? By horseback of course! Yes – my dear cousin Eva – I mounted a horse and headed off into the sunrise! Who would ever have believed THAT?!

Marlborough woman
“I’m a poor lonesome cowgirl…”

Max was very excited to get his own horse. He was leading the pack pretty much the whole way!

We rode through the beautiful countryside to a cave in the mogotes, Cueva del Palmarito, where we were led into the cave, with the help of florescent light rods, to a natural pool where we, naturally, had a quick swim.

Palmarita cave
Far from other tourist caves that I had visited, this one had no fixed light, safety ropes, warnings for the elderly and infirm or souvenir shop. Just a guy showing up in his wellies with a light.

The ride was truly beautiful and the horses very mellow so apart from my mum falling off the horse at the end and bruising a couple of ribs, I think we all enjoyed the ride.

A few Mojitos and a Cuban dinner at a nearby finca (farm) wrapped up a very enjoyable stay in Vinales!

Vinales evening view
Gorgeous sunset over the Valley of Silence