This trip to Cuba is soon coming to an end, in just a few days I will be on plane flying to my new home town, Cartagena. That also means the start of my new job and new everyday routines, and the end of two and a half months of active holidays. My last stop in Cuba before heading back to Havana is in the Pinar del Rio region, far in the west. My base from where I will be exploring the surroundings is in the tiny little town of Viñales. From what I already saw from the bus, this part of Cuba looks very different from the other cities where I have been. If I had to describe the landscapes in one word, I would say green. Everything is green, I have never seen this much green fields and forests anywhere. There are also mountains and valleys, as well as caves and tobacco plantations to visit. No big cities, nothing special to do, just nature. A perfect place to take a rest before starting my new life
If Trinidad was small, Viñales is at least ten times smaller. Seriously, the map of the city looks like this:
I tried to take some pics from the bus but I’m sure I’ll have better once so I’ll post later. There was a minor confusion with casas when I arrived. It is completely my fault though and I feel so ashamed. You remember, two weeks ago when I was still in Havana I went dancing with a guy who told me he had friends who could accommodate me in Viñales. He even called them to check for available rooms but I told him I would call them again later to confirm since I wasn’t sure about when exactly I would go there. At the time I still thought that it would be hard to find accommodation here but as soon as I started traveling and found out how easy it is, booking on the previous night is always ok, I kind of forgot about the casa in Viñales. Besides, I never heard from the guy in Havana again so I couldn’t be sure if his friend had a room for me or not. Then, two days ago in Santiago, I chatted with someone who had already been in Vinales and who recommended his casa. It sounded great so I called them and booked a room. The lady I spoke with said she would pick me up from the bus station, holding a name tag as always. So it was all confirmed. This morning when the bus was arriving to Viñales bus station I saw already from far a woman holding a tag written Emilia on it. Easy, I thought. But when I hopped of the bus and started looking for her, there was suddenly a woman in front of me, with a name tag that said “Emilia, Francia”. I of course automatically reacted, hey that’s me, and the woman greeted me. I thought she looked a little bit different and younger than the woman I had seen from the bus, but I figured maybe I was just really tired and hadn’t looked well. It didn’t even ring a bell that I hadn’t seen the word Francia on the first tag. But then again, I had woken up very early in Santiago, spent the morning walking around there, traveled 14 hours to Havana, waited for 5 hours at the bus station and finally traveled 4 hours to Viñales. And I didn’t sleep almost at all in the bus. So I must have been really perplexed. I followed the woman to her house, she offered me guava juice and only after having talked with her for at least 30 minutes, I realized I was in the wrong house. Or not necessarily wrong but in the first one I had booked long ago. She had been told that I was coming on the 3rd (which I did even if my plans kept changing in between), she just didn’t know at what time (there are three busses every day, luckily I was on the first one so she didn’t have to spend the whole day there!) Once again, Cubans are so friendly. And that is why I feel so bad for the other woman who must have stayed there for a while waiting for me and then realized I wasn’t coming. My host, D, said that I could change to the other casa if I wanted to but of course I didn’t. I had already settled and she had been so lovely and I had nothing to complain about the house or my room. So I decided to stay and she was even nice enough to call the other woman and explain what had happened (because I said I couldn’t do it in Spanish, it would have been even more embarrassing!) I hope she will have some other guests to stay in my room. D reassured me that things like this happen all the time but I still feel bad. Oops.
But well, it happens. I don’t know what I am missing but at least this place is great, once again. After all the abuelas and other older ladies I’ve spent time with recently, this is a nice change because D is young, one year younger than me. She lives with her husband and 5-year old son who is super cute (I try not to be jealous of the fact that she, at 24, has a husband and a son, when I don’t even have a boyfriend. I certainly have other things that she doesn’t). But D is so friendly, talks all the time and asks a lot of questions. Her parents are here as well, they may even live here I’m not sure. When I was enjoying my guava juice her dad and husband were watching TV in the other room and I had to run there to see because in the news there were about Raul Castro’s visit to Paris. They were both very interested in it (as was I) and when I asked about it they seemed to be excited about the improved relations with France and possible investment coming from there. So we immediately had something to talk about.
This afternoon I only went for a short walk in the “center” and had some delicious Italian food. I accidently bumped into a place called “el Jardin de Caridad”, I had read about in my guide book. It is a more than 100 years-old park, hidden behind an ordinary house where people live. The owners let people in for a tour (the entrance is free but they appreciate a small tip) so I went in and took some pictures:
The town looks nothing special, but it is very countryside-like. The houses are colourful as always.
I think I will take it easy tonight and sleep well, and start exploring the place tomorrow. Good night,
Ps. In the bus this morning (yes, after I don’t know how many hours of staying awake) I suddenly got an idea that I call a post-Colombia inspiration. I stared out of the window and started thinking about next fall and how I would like my life to be after Colombia. Where would I want to live and what would I like to do? And all of a sudden I knew exactly what I want. I’m not even sure if I was awake or asleep or hallucinating somewhere in between but I could see it so clearly in my mind, my new happy life. I had planned to use the following 6 months to figure that out, what am I going to do now? Haha. Of course I am not going to tell you anything yet, you will know when the time comes. And of course my plans will change million times before that. And of course things may not happen exactly as I want. But at least for the first time after graduation I don’t feel completely lost about my future!
Read the next story here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!