Vinales, Cuba

I am going backwards in writing about my stay in Cuba, which included a week meeting government officials and politicians. During the last few days I felt I had not seen any more of the country than when I first visited in 2008 to attend a conference in Havana. I took advice from the hotel agency and booked a trip to Pinar del Rio and Vinales, a tabacoo growing region.
The coach was filled with people from many different countries, and at first I didn’t pick up other English speakers. I later found my companions came for the UK (Shanklin in the Isle of Wight which I visited many times as a child), the US (Washington DC) and Canada. While I had met many coming from Canada in the previous three weeks, I was intrigued to know the reason for the visitors from the United States, given that direct flights are nor available and that US citizens can occur penalties for visiting Cuba, Otherwise their were Greeks and a young woman from Moscow who I found spoke excellent English. When I told her I visited Moscow in 1961 I felt she thought I was from a different world. I’d like to have found out a lot more about her reasons for visiting Cuba today. It appears that Russia maintains good relations with Cuba even though it is no longer a Socialist state,
Out of Havana, having done a round of hotels to pick up passengers we encountered a long range of mountains. The land was green and fertile with palm trees abounding. There were fields of rice. I was concerned about the availability of water in such an area. I knew that some places that introduced rice crops had wrecked the environment. The Indian Punjab is one such place where rice growing and fish farming is having a detrimental effect.
Our first break was to a small roadside shack where it turned out they were without a water supply. They had no coffee and no water, cans of beer was all that could be had, except for the young woman selling small sweet bananas. This meant we had to take a second break fairly soon.

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