Vinales Valley
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Farming, the Traditional Way, in the Cuban Countryside
Once I got past the tourist feel of the town of Vinales, a whole other world opened up. A walking tour of the valley, took me through farm land, up a hill, through a cave, and out the other side. When I emerged from the cave, and took in the view of the valley, it was simply stunning. The sharp contrast of the green of the crops with the dark red of the soil was a stunning sight. The famous limestone “pin-cushion hills” loomed in the distance making the entire scene a bit surreal. Then, there were the farmers. My guide (easily hired on the main road) spoke mostly about the life of the farmers, sprinkling in some opinions of his own. The guide introduced me to two brothers, aged 78 and 82, whose plots were near each other in the valley. They continue the farming traditions of the past, certainly not out of an interest in nostalgia, but because there were no other alternatives. They each led an ox drawn plow to work the land and were head-to-toe Cuban - in drab, army green, uniforms, straw hat, and one smoking a cigar. Like farmers all over the world, they worried about who would carry on farming after them - their children now work in tourism in Vinales, or have gone to Havana for work. The guide was fairly honest about the situation in Cuba, opining that it was a good time to be in Cuba. After the Castros die, things are going to be very different, but he he could not articulate exactly how, or what would happen to this traditional farmer.
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