We load up in the van in the morning and set out westward of Habana on the Autopista. Outside is extremely hot and all hitch-hikers (and there are a lot of them) are concentrated in the shady spots. From time to time we pass by Chinese Automotive Corp.'s 4x4s, strongly resembling the Russian UAZ, which on their part have borrowed a lot from the first Toyota Landcruisers. Long live the copyrights!
Our first stop is the Orquideario de Soroa – one of the largest orchid gardens in the world or at least according the Cubans. There, we are being told that the last hurricane have blown away a significant part of the flora. Luckily, the plants, for which was thought that will need years to recover, have shown remarkable signs of revival just months after the calamity. We visit some wooden sheds, where are shown the blooming orchids. ATTENTION: some kind of botanical lecture will follow. As the roots of the orchids need lots of air, the plants are not planted in pots with soil, but are rather in a peat substrate or they just have attached to a piece of wood, hanging in the air.
|A fragment of the green waterfall|
|One of the many types of orchids|
After the orchids, we go towards Salto de Soroa or the Soroa waterfall, but on our way we pass next to a restaurant, which is being prepared for a wedding – white table covers, chairs with large red ribbons, DJ, tables with lots of food, and in front of the restaurant, there is the wedding car – an old, but freshly painted in lime, Chevrolet.
You'll have to wait to kiss the bride
(The pillars are from bottle palms)
To get to our end point here, the waterfall, we have to pass through the near stream. We get to a small bridge, but there an old man blocks our way. He slams the crook, which he holds in his dried up hands, onto the ground and shouts: YOU SHALL NOT PASS, the sky darkens, black clouds hang over, a strong wind starts to blow … UNTIL UN/DOS PESO, POR FAVOR, … CASH … NOW … PENDEJOS. We get it that we have to pay to go to the other side, so we take out the pesos convertibles. We follow the cemented way through a jungle-like wood and soon we reach the foot of a 22 m waterfall (I always carry a tape measure with me). We take some photos with the sprinkler and turn back to the van.
|A Cuban sprinkler|
Through the cemented jungle
Our group is going back after its meeting with the "incredible" waterfall.
Jorje and I fall a little behind, because the reverse evolution calls us and we are back to nature. We catch hold of a branch hanging over the pathway and start to give loud primate cries, to show that we are here and we are ready to mate. But nobody comes, because we have forgotten our gorilla suits. We take back our human appearance, get to the van and proceed to the next point of interest.
We turn aside from the Autopista and take on a meandering mountain road, which after an hour takes us to the Vinales valley and village, and the unique karst hills – Mogote, which means a haystack. First, we go to see the Cueva del Indio or the Indian cave with the help of a boat as a river runs through it. Nothing impressive. At the exit, those who want can have a picture with an ox.
|The picture-sque ox|
We go to the most absurd thing/artwork around - Mural de la Prehistoria. On a bare rocky side of one of the mogotes is drawn a short interpretation of the Darwin evolution by an unknown Cuban genius – from plasmodium to a human being. And I wonder from time to time why some people act as plasmodia, we have been distant relatives, that's why, or at least according to the genius responsible for this "artwork". At least they are clear that this is bullshiiit and the entrance fee is just our favourite un peso, por favor.
Mural de la Prehistoria
Simple games 1
A local boy runs on the meadow after a former bike wheel.
|Simple games 2|
The cowboy and the mogotes
That's how the wild wild Cuban west looks like (and we are truly in the westernmost part of Cuba).
We heat to a hotel perched on one of the highest points in the area, opening an incredible view of the mogote valley. There is a pool with the same magnificent view for the cold-water-loving ones. We satisfy our primary needs (food and drinks, and some other things) and I grab my camera to photograph this outstanding place – one of the most amazing and calming places I have ever visited. My second Cuban nirvana follows. Lots of great places, lots of nirvanas. The one who is responsible for the nirvanas in Cuba, most probably have gone bankrupt. Goodbye mogotes, I hope that I we will see each other one day.
|Somewhere under the trees|
|Something to warm your soul|
|Little house on the prairie|