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Journal - 01-Apr-2001, Sunday, Viñales, Pinar del Rio, Cuba
(Trip: Cuba)

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Click for larger image! Classic Viñales scenery. Keywords: backpack,Cuba,pinar del rio,vinales,tabaco,tobacco,farm,agriculture,tourist,camp,revolution,revolucion,travel
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Click for larger image! Herbal Pharmacy. Keywords: backpack,Cuba,pinar del rio,vinales,tabaco,tobacco,farm,agriculture,tourist,camp,revolution,revolucion,travel
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Classic Viñales scenery
Herbal Pharmacy
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Click for larger image! Our trusty old Hyundai. Keywords: backpack,Cuba,pinar del rio,vinales,tabaco,tobacco,farm,agriculture,tourist,camp,revolution,revolucion,travel
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Click for larger image! Their trusty old Plymouth. Keywords: backpack,Cuba,pinar del rio,vinales,tabaco,tobacco,farm,agriculture,tourist,camp,revolution,revolucion,travel
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Our trusty old Hyundai
Their trusty old Plymouth
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I wake in the night, knees stinging from multiple mosquito bites. We're sleeping under the mosquito net so either one has got in, or they're biting through the net. Scrabbling for my torch, I have the answer - two mosquitoes are sucking on Monica's legs from the other side of the net. I execute one; the other escapes.

Monica wakes to a handsome man massaging her legs with insect repellent! I cover my own legs, too, before climbing back under the net - all the time scanning for mosquitoes with the flashlight.

As usual, we had planned to get up early to take spectacular post dawn photographs. Also as usual, we failed to get up. In fairness, I did wake up enough to look out of the window and see an unpromising overcast sky.

We leave our room around 9:30 and get in the car to drive to a vantage point we spotted yesterday. As we're leaving, we remember to pay the bill for last nights food and lodging. The woman asks for $15 for the room, $6 for the supper, and $3 for the water! The small bottles of water are charged at $1 each - even though they only cost $0.40 in the supermarket (and $0.50 at most restaurants).

We're a bit annoyed about the water. Firstly that we weren't told it would be charged for. Secondly that it's overpriced. We get the feeling that Cubans consider all tourists to have almost unlimited supplies of money and that everything is cheap for them. I wonder if they'd be surprised to learn that in Mexico even $10-a-night hotels supply free drinking water.

It's a fifteen minute drive to the view-point. Up here the strange and distinctive form of the valley can be appreciated. We pull off the road and wander around taking pictures.

Part of today has been designated as taking it easy and catching up on this journal. We drive back to the lodgings and I install myself in the bedroom. As I write, Monica pops in now and again with odd treats - ice cream, bananas, water.

In the afternoon we take a walk around town. Many of the houses are well maintained - nicely painted with trim gardens. The town's architecture is very colonial. Almost every house has a columned porch with rocking chairs. People gather outside their homes, gossiping the day away. A good number of houses have 'Rent-a-Room' signs (in English) outside.

Towards the edge of town, we pass a gate with strings of sliced fruit hanging from it. It looks like some kind of offering, maybe one of the Afro-cuban religious practices we've read about. Interesting. As we walk around a bend we can see the garden behind the gate. A pole in the ground has two plastic dolls hanging from it. We keep walking, determined not to peek further - we saw The Blair Witch Project movie just a couple of weeks ago!

The road leading out of town is full of people. Some lounge around in small groups, reclining against the grassy banks. Others leisurely pass by on foot or bicycle. The odd cow chews away at the verge. It's like a stereotypical dream of rural tranquility. Few men wear shirts or hats, even though many are fair-skinned (under their deep tans). I wonder what the incidence of skin cancer is like.

Outside of town the land is divided into smallholdings, almost all of which are dedicated to tobacco cultivation. Every tobacco farm has a large, triangular, thatched shelter for drying tobacco plants. Monica works up the courage to ask one of the owners for permission to look inside. I refrain, afraid of being asked to part with more money! The old couple don't ask for anything and Monica is delighted to walk among the drying plants and enjoy their strong aroma.

On the way back we stop at the convenience store for a large bottle of sensibly-priced water!

Dinner is at our lodgings again. The food is great and is downed with delicious freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice.

Bellies full, we retire early.

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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