Let’s see, now, where was I? Oh yeah, getting ready to go to a tobacco farm in the ViÃ±ales Valley, home of the world’s greatest tobacco-growing soil. Just before leaving the hotel that morning, I snapped this shot of a foreign tourist looking out over the mist-enshrouded valley.
On the way to the farm (bus ride into town, then a two-mile walk through the countryside), I snapped this shot on the way out of town. Dachshunds are my absolute favorite breed of dog, so I couldn’t resist this little guy.
This is the tobacco farm itself, with the farmhouse and the drying barn in the background.
On the way into the house, we passed this makeshift clothesline.
Once inside the house, I was astonished at how small it was. Two rooms, actually. This is the kitchen of a farmer who tends the most fertile tobacco-growing soil in the world. Life under Communism.
I should add that in Cuba, people do not actually own the homes they live in or the land they work. It’s all owned by the state. They can’t sell it, they can’t buy an adjacent piece of property, they can’t do anything except live in (or on) it and bequeath it to their heirs when they die. This draconian system was somewhat modified last week at the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, aka the Last Goodbye to the Castro Brothers. Certain Cubans will (maybe) be able to actually own,buy, and sell their own homes and land, thereby creating a capitalist-style real estate market.
Other similar reforms have been instituted by previous party congresses only to be whimsically tossed aside by Fidel shortly thereafter. We’ll see how long these last.
In this shot, the farmer (sporting a “Hong Kong” t-shirt) demonstrates and explains the art of cigar-rolling. When the demonstration was concluded, he had some cigars for sale at the price of about $22 for ten, wrapped in a plain brown wrapper. Even though I don’t smoke, I gladly bought a pack of ten, knowing the money would go straight into his pocket, where it belongs. This is a practice I repeated throughout my whole trip, buying items directly from the Cuban people–clothing, CDs, etc. Â The US has in recent years allowed Americans to bring items into the US that were made by the Cuban people, as opposed to those items made by Cuban government entities.
I might add, I gave the cigars to a cigar-smoking friend of mine once I returned to Key West.
On the way back to town, I stopped to check out some pineapple growing on someone else’s farm.
On the walk back into town, we stopped to check out this baseball game. It appeared to be organized, since the teams were wearing uniforms. The crowd of spectators numbered about a dozen.
Then we visited a cave. We entered on foot, but exited by boat, and this shot coming out of the subterranean darkness reminded me of the eerie jungle scenes of the original King Kong.
We returned to the hotel for our final night in ViÃ±ales. The next day, we would begin the long drive to Cienfuegos, but the last night was spent in this beautiful bar.
That’ll do it for now. Stay tuned for further installments from my fantastic voyage.