In the morning we drove to the Viñales valley, famous for it’s beautiful landscape with mogotes and caves. We stopped at an information center / view point just before we entered the valley. From there we drove to Mural de la Prehistoria, a big painting on the wall of a mogote. We continued to Cueva del Indio, a large cave where we walked for 200 meters before taking a boat ride on the underground river San Vicente.
In Cueva de José Miguel we had a local drink which they tried to convince us to have with rum even if we were driving. We walked into the museum through the cave which was used as shelter for runaway slaves (cimarrones) and today shows how they lived. At the other side we were welcomed with an African dance by the restaurant which is built around the santeria religion. We were transported back to the car in a horse carriage.
On our way back to Pinar del Rio, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant a bit above the information center. We had a really good and very cheap omelet that was not on the menu, and enjoyed the view of the valley from their spectacular terrace.
Back in Pinar del Rio we went straight to José’s restaurant to pick up him and Daniel. We arrived a bit early and José took us to a local coffee place where he bought us coffee and iguana juice. When Daniel arrived we drove to a tobacco plantation, and to get there we had to drive over fields and pass ox wagons on tiny dirt roads. First we visited a private house where they rolled us a cigar each. These were made of left-over leaves which was not completely fermented, but they still tasted great. Then we were showed around a casa del tobacco where the leaves were dried and prepared before being sorted by quality and sent to the factory.
After a little mojito break at our casa particular we went to meet José and Daniel again. This time we had to wait for José because he was out getting us a salsa cd for the car. He was tired after bicycling, so we took a bici-taxi to the paladar where we had dinner. The waitress was borrowing our Spanish-English dictionary and was taking notes, so we decided to give it to her before we left.
We spent the rest of the evening with José and Daniel in a very local bar, drinking rum from Viñales, smoking cigars and listening to European music from our cell phones. After a while we had to close all doors and windows because the government was spraying the entire city with insect repellant. A lot of locals came by the bar, and a young girl and her father sang a beautiful duet for us. When it was time to go home, José insisted on paying the bill.