Cathy and I, and our small group, looped about 400 kilometers through towns and countryside west of Havana.  Soon after leaving Havana, we stopped at the Orchideria, built as a personal garden in the early 1900’s and now home to about 400 types of orchids.  Very beautiful and Cathy & I immediately thought of our Aunt Elizabeth who is a lover of orchids.

On to Las Terrazas which is very scenic Unesco Biosphere Reserve and our big adventure was swimming in the pools carved out of the limestone by the waterfalls of the San Juan River. Next, Soroa is very rural and afforded us a chance to have a family style dinner of 7 or 8 different Cuban specialties all served on an open patio.

We stayed for a couple of days in Vinales,  a small touristy town with the loudest roosters I have ever woken to, and right beside a UNESCO protected valley.  Cathy and I took a hike through the valley, an excursion that included sampling one farm’s coffee and sampling (and buying) a second small farm’s locally grown and rolled cigars.  We smoked the cigars Che Guevara style, dipping the mouth end into honey.  Try it, you will probably like it.

We saw some industrial scale farming outside Havana, however here the oxen and horse drawn wagons vastly outnumbered tractors, and from what we saw, the tractors are vintage.

And just to put it on record, I would categorize my salsa dancing lesson as ‘interesting’, however Cathy excelled and was ready to dance on the sidewalks outside a bar later in the evening.

About our trip

Map of the route for Cuba LibreCathy and I spent 9 days touring Cuba.  4 days were in Old Havana and 5 days in nearby towns and the countryside.  Our tour company was G Adventures  and we liked how they assembled our tour  Cuba Libre.  There was 9 of us on a small bus, the pace was relaxing as we visited local cultural and nature sites,  ate local and stayed in home-stays and hostels.  As one Cuban told me ‘don’t try to understand us’ however this tour gets you closer to understanding.

We flew  Interjet, a Mexican discount airline.  To fly from Toronto to Havana we connected through Cancun.  Our return connected through Mexico City.  What was totally unexpected is that there was lots of leg room even for me at 6’2″.  Kudos to Interjet.  And it was a lot cheaper than flying Air Canada.

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