Uncle Nick: Havana clocks are running 50 years behind, but time in Viñales has stopped all together. The village lives in an age before internet and even maps are hard to come by, so at 6 am we took a colorful Yank Tank to meet our guide for the morning hike. The first 20 minutes engaged all of the senses – our ears were filled with cryptic Cubano Spanish, our eyes were struggling to see a road beyond the morning fog, and our noses were busy inhaling a sweet tobacco aroma.
Nikonia: Yeah, that was great, but our guide didn’t speak English. I did understand him when he pointed at my running shoes and called me “chica loca.” I should’ve realized then that my pretty turquoise Nikes would not live to see another day of washed out dirt roads, overzealous goats, slippery cave paths, and the dreaded “popo de caballo.”
Uncle Nick: Yeah, popo de everything and everywhere as we began hiking through fincas (farms) and up mogotes (hills), but the views were worthy every step.
Nikonia: Yeah! As soon as we started to gain elevation and break through the mist the whole sleepy valley unveiled itself through palm trees and coffee groves. I was worried we would not make it to the top in time for sunrise, since Nick kept stopping for more pictures, but lucky for us the sun was also on Cubano time. It lazily rose from behind the mogotes and started to erase the morning haze.
Nikonia: Only a few other travelers shared the view, but they were smart enough to bring horses.
Uncle Nick: Yeah, I’m glad they were there because they shared a mango!