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Thursday, 24 March 2016 Viñales, Cuba

cowboys, countryside and jesus

Currently, I am sat in a guagua (pronounced as huahua I think..)' a bus that will hopefully take us to Viñales, at least that's what it said on the cardboard stuck to the windshield. In Cuba you never know though.

Week two is coming to an end but it feels like I've been here forever and can't believe I have another 3 weeks ahead of me. I feel like I'm spending my money at every open opportunity and am quite afraid of how I'll manage the next four and some months. But oh well, I shouldn't really worry about money, right?

This week I got assigned a new profesora, Kary, a typical caribbean, fierce and proud mamey, who reminds me a bit of my Granny Iris from Grenada. She's great, although a bit cheeky and I definitely learned ny doing. Instead of sitting in a little room, she took me out to explore the streets, name different colours, showed me the animals and we even visited the local food market where we completed her weekly shopping (of course I was the one to carry her bags). Although she likes to talk a lot - mostly about family and a swiss rich guy she wants to marry - she's lovely. And since she couldn't pronounce my name at first she simply gave a new one: sol, "because you shine like the sun" and she even tried to hook me up with a cuban guy she knew. In fact she tries to do that with every guy we pass. ¿Tu no tienes novio en suiza, sol? Ayyy, ¿por que? That's my Kary, Kary, Kary.

I might not have pointed it out yet, but Internet here in Cuba is close to non-existent. However, whenever you spot a park with a TON of locals and couple of tourists with their faces glued to their devices, you know the time has finally come to log yourself into the Internet and somehow keep track on what is happening outside of Cuba. If you look around searchingly, maybe even with some cash in your hand you'll soon be getting discreet but clear hand signs by sketchy looking cubanos - we call them the tarjeta (Internet card) dealers. It's some type of black market that allows you to access the internet a lot cheapee than if you'd buy them elsewhere. I haven't really figured out yet how they managed to come up with those cards but to be honest, I probably don't even want to know...


Compared to Havana, the capitol of Cuba, Viñales really's just a long road with houses (that all seem to be casa particulars!) along it. It's tiny, but awfully cute with the church in the town center on which at all hours you can find this one, stereo-typical Cuban guy smoking his cigar and who if need be starts shooing away stray dogs (they're everywhere) in a not so friendly way. The true countryside of Cuba.

I must say though, that this little village was practically bursting with tourists. When we arrived and tried to leave the bus, the local people trying to sell their available rooms screaming 'I have casa, need casa? Lovely two bedroom apartment!" nearly made this task impossible. We had a pre-booked casa, but as it is in Cuba, this guy failed to pick us up and we somehow had to find it ourselves, which we sure did. But that was not all that could be found in there. Of course, I first of all had to rid myself of all the mosquitos, found one or two cockroaches and on the last day was attacked by ants whilst enjoying Jesús' lovely home cooked meal (probably the best and most I ate so far!) Yes, it was quite an interesting experience, but I'm not complaining. As i said before, living with the locals allows you to not only improve your Spanish but actually experience cuban life at its best. Overly romantic spanish ballads playing from the living room, white rocking chairs in front of the house, the infamous cigar smoking men and women (!) and since it's the countryside, horses and carriages passing by every so often carrying cubans with hats, giving them the appearance of a cowboy.

Here, everybody helps each other in any way possible. When we said we'd wanted to take a tour Jesús immediately had a relative who could help us with that. Oh, and when we aplanned to hire a bike for the day, the next morning some other guy suddenly appeared in front of the house without us so much a having to step outside of our room. They really do everything to make the best deals.

The bike tour we did, with ourselves as guides was probably the best thing we did. Although, looking back a nightmare trying to navigate in the heat but the valle, farm land and thr famous Viñales mountains were sights definitely worth it. We even climbed a hill, that left me a sweaty mess but was definitely worth the view again and of course the descent (; Might have to get myself a bike here in Havana for the last couple of weeks left.

Now, we're heading back home, of course after taking a picture of Jesús in front of his house (by his request so I could show everyone) and I can't wait to finally lie in a more comfortable bed in which I at least don't have to feel every single spring poking into my back. I'm so spoiled.

¡Hasta Luego!

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