Trip to Cuba: Excursion on Horseback — Tobacco

The Viñales Valley, National Monument since 1979, was the first cultural landscape recognized by UNESCO throughout the Americas, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and National Park in 2001

Viñales Valley

“Timeworn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun yet maddeningly frustrating – Cuba is a country of indefinable magic.”  Lonely Planet Travel Guide

This was our door-to-door taxi in Viñales.

Charlie and I took a 3 and a half hour horse ride through Viñales National Park for a fee of 25 CUC ($25) each which included being picked up at our casa particulare in a horse-drawn taxi. The tour was arranged by our hostess the day we arrived in Viñales.

Unlike the mule ride on the rim of the Grand Canyon we were on and off these horses 3 times.

Our tour started at William’s stables. He assigned a horse to each of us — we were 4 plus William who was our guide and wrangler.

There are restored vintage cars all over Cuba.

Our first stop was a tobacco plantation where we saw men cutting the plant in preparation for drying.  It was explained to us how the tobacco grows and is readied to become the famed Cuban cigars — Cohibas, Monte Cristos, or Romeo y Juliets.

Our guide at the tobacco field spoke great English and explained everything about growing, harvesting, and using tobacco.

It is dried in barns then rehydrated in an herbal bath to make it pliable enough to roll.

Charlie is trying a Monte Cristo cigar at the plantation in Viñales.

Each of us was given the opportunity to smoke.  I declined but Charlie was happy to give it a try after our tobacco expert dipped the end that goes in the mouth in honey.

The veins are removed from tobacco used in cigars and sent to cigarette factories.

Our presenter showed us how he takes the vein, the part that holds most of the nicotine,  out of the tobacco leaf.

The trimmed leaves are rolled into a natural cigar.

Charlie smoked his cigar as we watched the creation of a hand-rolled cigar.

All Cuban cigars are handmade.

As the cigar-maker stacked the leaves he also rolled them.

The final leaf is glued together with honey.

Then he trimmed a leaf to become the outer wrapper. At this point the cigar was firmly wrapped but limp due to the rehydrating of the leaves.  It will be dried again before it is sold.

We purchased this banana-leaf humidor filled with enough Cohibas to share with friends.

Ninety percent of the tobacco grown on this farm goes to the Cuban government.  We were allowed to buy and bring back to the U.S. unmarked Cohibas from the farm in a natural humidor.

To be continued .  .  .

Do you have a trip planned?

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Author: Jo

Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights. We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house. Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.

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