We started our day by taking a tour of the Cave of the Indian in Viñales. The cave is located in the bottom of a mogote and was discovered in 1920. This cave was an ancient indigenous dwelling and opened to tourists in the 1970s. Outside of the cave entrance, there were artifacts and some recreations of what the indigenous people would have used. There was also a stand that sold sugarcane juice and the juice was fresh pressed! Mike bought some and I had a taste, but it wasn’t really what I expected. After we got our fill of sugarcane juice, our group headed up the stone stairs to the cave entrance. The neat thing about the Cueva del Indio is that the tour takes a short boat ride on the San Vicente River that runs through the cave! We had to walk through the cave to get to the boat and the cave was absolutely massive! We reached the boat and it was a little motorboat that held about 12 people. Half of our group got on the boat and the driver took us down the river, turned around, and then took us back the other way to the exit. As he drove, he pointed out different stalactite and stalagmite structures with a red laser pointer. The whole boat ride was probably about 10 minutes and as we approached the exit, it was so pretty to see the contrast of the dark, rocky cave we were in with the sunny, lush greenery on the outside. Mike took this video as we approached the cave exit:
Our group was the first one to take the boat ride, so we wandered around a bit while we waited for the rest of our group. Mike and I saw a man stripping sugarcane and it was fascinating to see him work:
After the cave, we went into downtown Viñales to walk around a bit and visit a street market. It’s such a cute little town and we enjoyed walking around. A few of us stopped at a restaurant and had a drink – Mike ordered a piña colada and the server brought the full bottle of rum and set it down by Mike’s drink. She left and we all looked around like did she forget something? Then, one of our group members said that rum is so much cheaper than anything else in Cuba that they don’t measure every ounce like they do back in the states. So Mike put as much rum as he wanted in his drink and the bottle just sat there until we left!
We ate lunch at a tobacco farm and got a tour of the drying house after we ate. We had the cutest little buddy who was VERY interested in what we were eating. We may or may not have let her have a sample or two.
When we went into the drying house, the tobacco farmer gave a brief explanation of how tobacco is grown and even rolled a Habano for us! Cuban cigars are well-known as the best cigars out there, and one thing that makes them unique is that every Cuban cigar is hand-rolled. There is no machinery, no automation – from seed to cigar, everything is done by hand. In a previous post, I talked about how unique the soil is in the Viñales area, and it’s actually the only area in Cuba where all of the varieties of tobacco leaves are grown. In other areas, they may only grow a certain leaf for a specific part of the cigar. The farmer explained the process in Spanish and our guide translated in English. Mike took a couple of videos of the farmer’s presentation:
It was amazing to see and hear how cigars are made in Cuba. It’s incredible how involved and precise the process is, but that’s why Cuban cigars are so prized! It was so fascinating to learn about the unique geography and agricultural importance of Viñales to the rest of Cuba. Plus, it gave us some absolutely spectacular scenery!