So far I’ve only talked about Havana. The mixture of feelings, impressions smells and colors. How big of an impression it left on me. Little did I know how big the impact would be of Viñales. Or Trinidad. Or Varadero, initially not my first choice to go to. How warm and colorful the country and most of all, the people, are. How different a country can be. How I loved being in the moment – no wifi, no internet without paying a lot – and just seeing what happens on the way.
Since there’s only one bus company providing transport all over the country, we had no choice to pick that one – Viazul – to transport us to Viñales. There’s only one word to describe the view we witnessed when passing through the Valley of Viñales: P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L. Oh, no, wait. It’s also marvellous. Extraordinary. Just plain and simple stunning. Beautiful. And I can go on for a while. Waving earth dotted by mogotes – giant boulders – that define the landscape. Lush and green. Palm trees and horses. Green fields and rock formations woven through the view. Caves hidden. And horses. So many horses. Cars ain’t cheap and not easily obtained, so lots of people use horse and carriage to transport themselves and their belongings elsewhere. Or to take us on a tour through this little heaven on earth. To be honest, I did this tour in Mexico where I got kicked by a horse and another girl got bitten, so I’m not very keen on sitting on a horse. But – hurray – these horses were the most good-natured animals I ever sat on – not that I sit that much on animals, my cat wouldn’t love it –. Being ridden through this landscape is just wonderful. You can see how vast it stretches out, where the cigar farmers have their shacks to dry the tobacco leaves, where to find those hidden caves and ponds to cool down in. It incredible how fertile the country is: tobacco, bananas, pineapples, papaya, cane sugar – where else would that rum come from? – and coffee. Though the town Viñales was pretty small – wooden one-story houses with porches, painted in the brightest pink and blue – and easygoing, it was perfect. A place to eat, to drink piña coladas on a terrace when the sun goes down – they bring you your glass and the bottle of rum. So you can choose how much alcohol you pour in. Perfect life. – and to dance salsa in the evenings. What more could you wish for?
Trinidad. Because pretty songs don’t last – this is such a dutch sentence – and our time in Cuba is limited. So, Trinidad. Another enchanting city. Time travel complete. Main way of transportation: horse and carriage. They even have the traffic signs to prove it. Houses: colonial – time traaaavelll – and in perfect state, with – again – the brightest colors of yellow, red and blue. Palm trees. Museums. Nice bars and restaurants – hurray – and music in the evenings. And dancing. And dancing. And dancing. Playa Ancon with, just like other islands in the caribbean, crystal clear blue water. Pristine white sand beaches and palm trees. Cheap and tasteful lobster. If you want to see authentic Cuba, roam the streets of Trinidad. Visit as much well-preserved colonial houses as you can. Enjoy. Live.
And then Varadero. Paradise for tourists. Resorts all over – how much I hate the words ‘all-in’, ‘five stars’ and ‘resort’ when it comes to traveling – and we expected a second Costa Brava or Turkish riviera. What we got was a deserted white sand beach with the bluest turquoise sea. Palm trees, not hotels surround the coastline. Warm water where you can relax and swim for ages without getting tired of it. The most beautiful pinkish-blueish sunset and water so clear you can see fish swimming at your feet. Perfect end to an already perfect trip.