We’ve had an interesting week seeing and experiencing different sights in and around Havana. Today we took an all-day bus trip to the countryside west of Havana to Pinar del Rio Province. On the way we stopped at a tobacco farm (owned by an individual farmer) and saw how tobacco was grown, processed, and eventually made into some of the world’s finest cigars. They are a major export from Cuba to the rest of the world.
We also stopped at a rum factory and learned how rum is derived from sugar cane. We also traveled to Viñales Valley, part Viñales National Park. Large, isolated hills with vertical walls dominate the valley. These are called mogotes, and similar structures are found only here in Cuba, China and Vietnam. The limestone that helped form these structures is found throughout Cuba, contributing to an extensive system of caverns. We were able to walk through one of these caves to a large underground river. From there we climbed into boats to continue our trip through the mountain as we floated out on the other side. We had lunch at a restaurant near the entrance to the caves—called the Cuevas del India, named for native remains found inside.
We stopped in the city of Pinar del Rio to spend some time at a local fiesta. We finally arrived back in Havana in the evening after a full day on the road. We were tired, but it was worth it to see so much of the Cuban countryside.