Vinales is a town in western Cuba. Around two hours drive from Havana.
We get up early one morning to head out there for the day. Having been out dancing the night before, it's hard to keep my eyes open. I normally love to watch the scenery change and see where I am. But today my eyes keep shutting. When I do pull them apart, I'm spoilt and will myself to stay awake a bit longer. Havana and its residential sprawl is gradually replaced with farmland, farmers riding on their ploughs and tobacco drying houses bigger than their houses.
The houses are cute. Colourfully painted, simple and small, nearly always with porch and rocking chair. The drying houses are big and wooden. With all the tobacco lined up neatly inside.
As we travel further, limestone monoliths 'mogotes' erupt out of the greenery. We visit Vinales Mural de la Prehistoria that has been painted over many years by an artist, Leovigildo Gonzalez Morillo. Although the mural itself is often labelled as overhyped, the lush Vinales Valley was given status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and is very worthy of a visit.
Also, It is here I have my first 'top up to your liking' pina colada. Mmm, I'll just say 'happy mornings, la la la...' Another reason to go and visit the mural.
Of course, being in Vinales, a visit to a tobacco farm to see inside one of the drying houses is required. We not only see inside, smelling all the tobacco at various drying stages, but the farmer also shows us how he makes the cigars. We then we get to try. I don't smoke so have no idea what to do, but I give a little puff without inhaling. I realise the taste isn't as bad as I thought - much better than the smell of cigarette and I don't cough. Much.
There is a lot to do in Vinales but we are only here for a day. We visit a lookout to see the unusual landscape of green and monoliths popping up, the tobacco farm, caves and of course drink rum. I'd love to stay a bit longer but a concert is calling us. We grab another snooze opportunity while driving back to Havana and before we know it, are hit with the intoxicating smell of fumes from cars and buses spluttering everything out as the clatter along the streets. Bless Havana and her cars.