Cycling….. and unlimited rum cocktails

Sunday October 25th

We awoke to see a wonderful calming sunrise over the rooftops. IMG_7256

The bedroom had 3 openings – a door to a delightful enclosed mini-terrace, a window towards the east and the main door gave onto a terrace where breakfast was laid out – plates of fresh sliced fruit (papaya, grapefruit, banana and pineapple), sliced baguette style bread with Tupperware of membrillo, guayaba jam and butter. Then a delicious omelette and finally flasks of Cuban coffee, hot water and sweet milk. Tea bags were available too – normal and camomile and lime leaf.

The bikes Maqueira had mentioned were waiting on the street outside  – IMG_7266pretty good Chinese-made mountain bikes with 15 gears but very basic brakes which more or less worked (though Bill’s bike had no rear brake!) so  we set off.

The scenery was stunning with the odd Casa, many shacks and small plots of land with people working in them, including oxen ploughing and tilling with wooden Heath Robinson contraptions.

Seven kilometers later we came across the Cueva del Índio, (Cave of the Indian) a local attraction. We leant our bikes against a tree but were told ‘al parqueo’ so, because we had no lock, we thought we’d better do as we were told and so we took them across the road to the car park- I knew you had to with a car so I guess any form of transport counts. There was an attendant who said we’d pay our 40MN (15p) on collection.IMG_7283

The caves were large and had well-lit paths. We came to an underground river and waited for a boat and guide to take us through the cool caverns which we learnt were home to albino fish and butterfly bats.

The only other visitors, who shared our boat, were a wealthy Cuban family with two teenage children who were well-dressed and, I guess, out for a Sunday adventure.

The boat ride ended just before the river dropped away….luckily the boat stopped just before we went over the edge…

I must admit, I was a little bit scared we’d go over! As we climbed out of the boat, there was a café but we thought we’d head off and continue on our way.

 We paid the guy, got our bikes back  and set off again. The roads were in reasonable condition and the few cars that passed us gave us a wide berth.
Soon, Bill suggested it was time to stop for a coffee. On the way to the Cueva Del Índio we’d passed a massive cave advertising a bar inside so we ventured down the road leading to it and were greeted by a friendly chap who informed us they didn’t have any coffee but could offer us a cocktail, including their specialty called a coctél del amor. This cocktail was a mixture of fruit juice with……unlimited rum! It came with a BOTTLE of white rum!

Bill kept adding rum till he got it how he wanted…..all this for $2CUC!IMG_7286

While Bill was mixing the cocktail, Sally ventured into the cave a slight distance and learnt that it was the hiding place for runaway slaves.

It was getting pretty hot by this time so we decided to ride back to the Casa to cool off. We had a light snack then headed off through town to discover the other landmark in the vicinity- the psychedelic Mural de la Prehistoria

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This is a 400′ long cliff face mural of dinosaurs and sea monsters painted in the 1960s by Leovigildo González. You can see it from a distance away so we didn’t cycle the whole way to it.We also saw some tobacco drying barns and more oxen tilling….

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tobacco drying barn

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We thought we’d get off the main road and try out my downloaded map of the area to go on some tracks cross-country to get to Hotel Los Jazmines which, according to the Lonely Planet guide, had amazing views and a pool available to non-residents.

However, after two unsuccessful attempts, including one where we cycled past a shack with a solar panel in the yard and scared a piglet which ran out in front of us,

we back-tracked to the main road and cycled back to Viñales where we found the road to the hotel and set off…. up a very steep hill; the road becoming steeper and more dangerous with lorries going past and we STILL couldn’t see any sign of the hotel so ….we turned back and headed off in the other direction to La Ermita Hotel, also, according to Lonely Planet, with ‘an excellent pool, skilfully mixed cocktails and Viñales’ top honors for architecture’. Hmm, not sure I agree……2015 133.JPG

 But the views were spectacular and we took our drinks down to the terrace overlooking the mogotes across the valley and soaked up the sun and the panoramic scene before us.

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see the mogotes in the foreground

 We cycled back down the steep hill and back to the Casa where we met Maqueira’s son, Dani, who loved practising his English with us whilst dinner was being prepared in the little kitchen. 2015 134He took full advantage of me being a teacher and asked lots of questions about English grammar! We had mojitos freshly mixed to Dani’s own recipe, followed by a delicious lobster dinner.

Later, Midali, who was the owner of the Casa, returned from a month in Argentina. She was lovely. That also explained all the comments in the Visitors’ Book about someone called Midali. It appears that Maqueira was just looking after the casa in her absence. So we say goodbye to Viñales and look forward to the next stop……Trinidad.


3 thoughts on “Cycling….. and unlimited rum cocktails

  1. WOW! you guys look like you had such a great time!! And drank a lot….which of course may account for some of the good time ;-), unlimited Rum, really?…Cuba looks wonderful and it is such fun to hear you describe your experiences. And the food!


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