We got a 64 years old vintage taxi for the journey from Havana to Vinales. The cost is around US$80-90 for the 3.5hours drive, and this is quite expensive for Cuban standard.
Empty Highway (Havana to Vinales)
Vehicle are really expensive. Below are the rough figures (provided by the driver):
US$7,000 for motorcycle
US$15,000 for vintage car
US$40,000 for a new car.
Putting things into perspective: A doctor earns US$35/mth.
Lotsa people hitch-hiking along the highway.
I kept wondering how long do they need to wait? How do they plan their day and schedule/appointment with so much uncertainties? It is really inefficient and a waste of time & human resources.
There is no formal public transport available and Taxi are predominantly used to ferry tourists (as only tourists could afford it). It is a protocol to stop for people if you have enough space in your vehicle. Life is really tough, even basic transport is such a scarce commodity.
Lotsa people waiting for transport under the hot scorching sun.
It made me felt guilty that I had such an easy life.
A trunk load of people.
This is the alternative solution.
Horse-cart on a highway!!!
There are lotsa interesting/propaganda Billboards along the way.
"Empresa Pecuaria Genetica, Camil Ceinfugoes"
"Livestock Genetics Company
(Obviously, I have no idea what it meant when I took the picture)
"Un Hombre Que Pierde El Honor Lo Pierde Todo"
"A Man Loses Honor Lose It All"
"La Palabra Ensena, El Ejemplo Guia"
"The word teaches, Example Guide"
"Herederos Del Honor
Libertad A La Verdad!"
"Heirs of Honor
Freedom To The Truth!"
UNESCO Link: "The Viñales valley is encircled by mountains and its landscape is interspersed with dramatic rocky outcrops. Traditional techniques are still in use for agricultural production, particularly of tobacco. The quality of this cultural landscape is enhanced by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, where a rich multi-ethnic society survives, illustrating the cultural development of the islands of the Caribbean, and of Cuba."
CASA (that we stayed for 1 night)
Rocking-chair is a necessity in all Cuban Home. People just chilled outside their home.
(Laid-back and basic. Actually, this could be in any developing countries. In fact, it looks like my neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia countryside).
Horse-riding to tour the Vinales Valley
Tobacco Farm (State-owned) and the Farmer (State Employee).
Apparently, the farmer is given a quota to meet each month, and given a fixed salary. If they farmed/produced in excess, they could sell the Cigars and share the profit with the States.
Drying of Tobacco Leaves for Cigar production.
Unfortunately, I don't smoke and can't appreciate cigars (Tried it a few times, did not really like it).
I was kinda surprised to see White Cuban as farmers, somehow I always had the impression that most of the farmers are black. That's subconscious impression, may be that is the legacy of Imperialism/Colonialism. Most of the White people I interact would be fund manager/investment bankers/consultants... In fact, I am a bit shock to realize how I stereotype people at a subconscious level.
Building a House
Local Cuban - White people
There are more White people than Black in Cuba, contrary to general perception. Nowadays, the Cuban does not disclose the racial demographic breakdown, but some people estimate that 60% of Cubans are White.
It is really laid-back and slow. Pace of life is really slow, not bad. =)
Young boy and his horse
(I like this picture alot.
Simple house, Vintage Car, Old-school bicycle.
Back to the past.)
Guards at the Taxi Company
Panorama View of Vinales Valley - Quite Pretty