When people ask us which three places to see in Cuba, we always answer Havana, Viñales, and Trinidad, as each of these places has its own unforgettable flavor. However, although both in Havana and Trinidad it was quite simple to make a list of top ten must see things, Viñales doesn’t fall into this category. Viñales is not a place to see but to feel. So, this article will be about how to feel this place, how to embrace it, how not to destroy your stay there by only checking tourist attractions. How did we do it, well it all started with the rain…
We got off the bus, our casa owner Osiris was picking us up. As the place where we stayed was close to the bus station, we decided to walk, and then it started raining. But not simply raining, it was pouring. The whole valley turned into a wall of rain. What a shitty start, you might think. But in reality this start washed out all that would stop us from enjoying this place. For a few minutes I tried to cover Zosia from the rain. Yeah, I admit, I was still hearing in my head my mother’s voice: “your kid is getting wet and it’ll get sick; do you want to make your kid sick, do you?”. But thank God she was not there, so her voice in my head was washed away with the rain and I thought there was no sense to fight this rain, lets simply enjoy it. And that’s what we did. We stopped covering ourselves and started to enjoy the warm Cuban rain. When we reached the casa, we were all wet, but it didn’t matter, coz our daughter was literally dancing in the rain in front of tobacco fields in the Viñales Valley. My point is, forget about what you are supposed to do, simply choose to be happy. Stop searching for places to see, stop moving for a second, and simply feel whatever happens to you in this magical valley. By the way, we didn’t get sick, instead the memories of that moment bring us happiness whenever we feel blue in Germany.
Do you remember this beautiful piece Summertime composed by George Gershwin? I’m pretty much sure that if he had visited Viñales, not the cotton but tobacco would have been high in the lyrics of the song. Although in Cuba it was far away from summer, as only spring was staring, for us from Europe, where winter was in full swing, it was indeed the Summertime in Viñales. The first morning after waking up through our window we saw Cuban men picking up tobacco. And it was not some tourist-oriented entertainment but something they simply do. When the time comes and tobacco is ready, you pick it up, you dry it, and you make the best cigars in the world. Tobacco gathering stole our hearts, and it didn’t take long till Zosia was running barefoot on red Cuban soil between tobacco plants and Dario started helping men working in the field.
The sounds of Cuba
There is something I haven’t yet written about – Cuban music. What comes to your mind if I ask you about Cuban music? If your answer is: “Buena Vista Social Club”, you either haven’t been to Cuba at all or you made a huge mistake and didn’t leave your resort in Varadero. No offence, but I’m so damn right. In contemporary Cuba the only places you will hear Buena Vista are strictly touristic places. Don’t get me wrong, I like Buena Vista Social Club but this is so not happening nowadays in Cuba. What you will hear in Cuba is Cubaton – reggaetón de Cuba 🙂 The songs depend on the season, but I believe if you go to Cuba this year there will be still El Chacal, Jacob Forever, and Divan in the picture 😉 (Well, you definitely will hear it on our balcony in Munich during summer)
Life goes on
Zofia is standing and watching a Cuban woman doing laundry outside. An old Cuban man arrives and brings a sack full of pineapples. He puts his hat on Zosia’s head and smiles. Later a Cuban girl takes Zosia’s hand and shows her chickens. The sun is going down and disappears behind the mountain. In the background you can hear Cubaton. Somewhere far away there is a sound of a passing train. Tobacco is drying. A dog is barking. Palm leaves are moving in the wind. Some man is coming back from the field after a day of a hard work. How to write it all down? How to remember it?