When I thought of Cuba before this trip I thought of steamy dance clubs, bars clouded with cigar smoke, and classic cars. I did not think of the bucolic farmland scenes that seem to actually make up the majority of Cuba. Walking around Vinales you side-step oxen ambling down the street to visit lush gardens and cool caves. All the while with the epic limestone cliffs, called Mogotes, towering over you.
I figured that “mogote” meant something like “mammoth in repose” or “slumbering giant” or at least “oversized lump” in English. As it turns out mogote actually means “isolated, steep-sided, residual, hills, which are composed of either limestone, marble, or dolomite and surrounded by nearly flat alluvial plains.”
I prefer to think that they are pensive prehistoric pachyderms, which due to their incredibly slow metabolisms, are simply staying still for a moment. A moment which has been 10,000 years for us, and they will someday soon (in the next millennia or so) shift positions due to a cramp and forever change the landscape of Vinales.
In a place like Vinales it just may happen. The town seems to be firmly situated just on the border of queer and quaint.
Freaky looking doll heads decorate the aforementioned lush gardens, and though the scene is definitely rural there is (apparently) a bar that is decorated to look like a cave where the friendly daughters of the farmers put on a dance show at midnight.
The food in people’s homes is wonderful and the food served at restaurants is so bad you expect a hidden camera crew to jump out and say “surprise! You are on ‘will they actually eat that camera’!” When you see a tractor going down the street there is almost no way of knowing if it schlepping dirt from one place or another, or if it is a taxi that you can flag down for a lift. As it turns out you can flag it down for a lift even if it is hauling a load. Just perch on top of the pile of tobacco, gravel or manure and off you go!
At the beaches you never know if you will simply see the perfect fine sand and tranquil blue waters or if you will also see a pink satin bed with whitewash pooling around it’s legs, and a white dressed bride making bedroom eyes to a cameraman (pictures of said event can be found on Tom’s Dad’s camera).
This strange place is surrounded by tobacco fields, caves, and pristine beaches and is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world.