We rode an old '50's Bel Air to Vinales, four hours and a world away from Havana. If Havana is stuck in the 1950's, Vinales is still in the 1890's. Horses pull carts of goods, and farmers are busy toiling away, despite being surrounded by throngs of tourists, eager to discover this unique part of Cuba.
The landscape is what makes this valley so special: mogotes, or small hills, pop up on the horizon, surrounded by tobacco and coffee plantations. The vegetation is lush, and when it rains here, it is heavy.
Vinales is positioned only about an hours' drive to the white-sand beaches that lay on the north end of the island. We spent the day sunbathing and snorkeling at Playa Jutias, a remote and quiet beach, where we made friends with Marco and Annina from Switzerland.
We enjoyed dinners at our casa, served on the patio at dusk, at the same time the fireflies would emerge. With sweeping views of the valley and its mogotes, it is no wonder that Vinales made the short list in New York Times' "52 Places to Go in 2016". Can this place sustain the impending influx of tourism?