After sightseeing through the bustling streets of Havana, the tiny village of Viñales, located on the southeast of the island and famous for its lush tobacco plantations, limestone monoliths and placed under protection by UNESCO World Heritage, was our next stop.
As every traveler’s guide is filled with endless and excruciatingly long-drawn paragraphs of the wonders and beauty the valley can offer – especially if you decide to go horse-back-riding – we naturally decided to try it for ourselves. Our adventure started fresh in the morning, as a coachman picked us up in his horse yoke to take us to the place, where the actual tour started. Unlike elsewhere, traveling by coach – a horse-drawn one – is an everyday sight, as are bumpy old roads. A combination of both quickly brings forth the feeling of being a mademoiselle from the 19th century, traveling from town to town in carts of the highest quality. To be honest, I don’t envy her the slightest. 😊
Luckily the ride wasn’t too long and soon we arrived to the starting point. Immediately before the tour, they ‘kindly’ made us watch how local cigars are produced (of course, after they had been neatly wrapped, we were offered to try and buy some. Mind you, the prices skyrocketed rather quickly) and afterward, we finally went to the horses. Ronchero and Palomito (= caballos) were the names of ours, who were designated to be our chaperones – and means of transport – for the rest of the morning. I should mention that I haven’t sat on a horse’s back for more than twenty years and it was only Bojan’s second time on a horse. Of course, the local’s aren’t interested in such small details and before you know it horse-halter is in your hands and they slap the buttocks of the horse to get the ride going. 😊 Bojan was rather lucky, as Palomito was a couch potato of a horse – steadily trotting along the road was enough for him, moreover, he was much more interested in chewing the leaves and grass than getting Bojan from point A to point Z. I, on the other hand, had the exact inverse problem. It seems that Ronchero decided to drink a pack of RedBull before the start of the tour and it showed. He quickly became annoyed when another horse tried to get in front of him and each time someone tried to overtake, he himself started to go faster and faster. Therefore, to put things into perspective, I was constantly being thrown from one side of the saddle to the other and I honestly hope that there was no one there to film that mess of a ride. 😊 As some tracks are rather narrow and steep, I was just glad that I managed to hold on to the saddle.
The whole trip was supposed to last 4 hours or so, but we stopped in between for quite some time and we were shown some flora and production of coffee and local rum which was pretty educative and interesting. Even though we were expecting that we will be riding the whole duration of the trip, I’ll be honest here and say that my buttocks was really thankful at the end 😉