Friday 12.05.2017: Havana - Pinar del Río - San Luís - Valle de Viñales: 230 km, hot 32ºC
Once again we had to get up early... Breakfast at 8 am, taxi at 9:20 am to get to the Hotel Kohly to pick up our rental car. It took about 1,5 hours before we could finally leave. But we didn't go very far and the car was showing an engine error. We drove back to Hotel Kohly and, after the men "solved" the problem by unplugging the battery we took off again. Nevertheless, what do you thing?, of course after a few kilometres the thing started to beep again! We decided to ignore the problem and drove to the Alejandro Robaina tobacco plantation (2 CUC pax). We got an explanation of the different leaves and how to roll a cigar. Julia got one that she will test sometime. Drive to our Hotel Los Jazmines (room 21 and 24) with spectacular views to the shimmering sight of magnificent mogotes, oxen-ploughed red fields and palm-frond-covered tobacco drying houses. Our hotel also has a nice long pool. Dinner at La Vera (70 CUC) where we celebrated our 28th anniversary with good plain Cuban food. And Volker tried rum on the rocks and he liked it! Back at the hotel Volker and Ulrich had a mojito at the pool while Julia and Stella went to bed.
Saturday 13.05.2017: Valle de Viñales: 30 km, hot
After celebrating Volker's birthday with what we could arrange, we drove to the visitor's center and to the Mural de la Prehistoria (3 CUC pax incl. a delicious piña colada) which is 4 km west of Viñales. Our car is getting "normal" because we filled it up with some more petrol "especial" 94 octans. Lunch at the Finca Roja (46 CUC). After that, Mr. Alfredo Rojas showed us many different plants like coffee, mango, guanabana, and a tobacco leafs' drying barn covered with palm tree leafs (3 CUC tip). Back to the hotel for a siesta. After that drive to Palenque de Cimarrón (3 CUC pax incl. a drink). My sister and I were sitting alone waiting for our husbands and two guajiro (cowboys) started singing "Quizás" and Brazilian songs for us ;). It is a surrealist place: a cave where the tunnel goes through the mountain to the other side. Coming out on the other side and you think you are in a fantasy movie. steep jungle mountains surround you with lots of bird twitching. Back along the mountain where we savoured a gin-laden juice. Drive further to Cueva del Índio, which was actually already closed (10:00 - 17:00, 5 CUC). Walking around a nice man told us he would arrange for us to visit the cave, got the keys and let us in. Apart from many snakes and the river at the end of the path there was nothing more interesting than after the visit! Our guy offered us delicious sugar cane juice that he made on the spot with a press. For dinner we went to "La Cocina de Imicenda" in town of Viñales: You always get the same food since everywhere: chicken, pork, fish and shredded beef with rice mixed with black beans, yucca and sweet potatoes’ chips. After lunch we went next door to a Cuban ladies music band where we got salsa lessons.