Saturday, 2 September 2017

Vinales, Cuba

The town of Vinales was founded in 1607, and as it's name suggests, it started off life as a vineyard.
It's a small rural town with rows of one storey colonial homes while characteristic arcades front the buildings in the main shopping area.

We spotted plenty of old cars and horses and carts as we walked around the streets of Vinales.
It was a very colourful, relaxed experience.

We spent quiet a bit of time relaxing in these lovely rocking chairs.
At the end of the day, we'd bring out our books and a beer and watch the sun set while the neighbours walked by. We may have tried a Cuban cigar as well! One was enough.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Peace Offering Bali-style

Canang sari is one of the daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in praise and prayer. Canang sari will be seen in the Balinese temples (pura), on small shrines in houses, and on the ground or as a part of a larger offering. (Wikipedia)
This is my second visit to Bali. There is something very appealing and comforting about the canang sari offerings. There's the hope for peace, the splash of colour, the smell of incense  but the most important element to me is the moment in time.

For a few brief, but focused minutes each day, the Balinese remind us that right now is the most important time we have. In fact it's the only time we have.

We cannot live time backwards or in the future. We can have memories & plans, but they both change all the time.

The only time is now.

May you all be at peace today.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Valle de Vinales, Cuba

Our second last port of call in Cuba was Vinales.
After our long drive from Trinidad, we were relieved to arrive before dark - it was hard enough finding our pre-booked accommodation in the late afternoon light without trying to do so at night time.

The town of Vinales is situated on the western side of Cuba amongst gigantic karst formations called mogotes and tobacco fields. The area is known as Valle de Vinales, and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site within Cuba.

One of the many mogotes in the valley is the famous Mural de la Prehistoria.
Cuban painter, Leovigildo Gonzalez Morillo (a pupil of Diego Rivera), painted the history of evolution after the revolution. It took 18 people four years to complete this timeline from ammonites to Homo sapiens.

It seemed like a rather bizarre thing to do.

We still had our hire car for this portion of our trip, but we noticed that many of the tourists were hiring bicycles to get around the various sites to see in the Valley.

It felt like an obligatory thing to do to visit a tobacco farm in Vinales.
I think we managed to find the one mentioned in the Lonely Planet called La Casa del Veguero.
We weren't part of a tour group, so we just wandered around, had a brief chat with one of the workers in the drying shed and came away with a handful of the cheap unbranded cigars that the Cubans tend to smoke. 

A brief drive through the stunning magotes, brought us to Cueva del Indio.
The cave was only (re)discovered in 1920 but it was once part of an indigenous settlement.
It was an interesting trip, but the caves were far from pristine or conserved. 
Electric lighting, the touch of too many hands and the fumes from the outboard motor have wrecked the health of the cave.

Hotel los Jasmines was not our home for our two nights in Vinales, but it was a recommended stop off to see the view by the pool. 
We 'enjoyed' a late lunch and beer by the pool as well. I emphasise the word enjoy, because as with everywhere else in Cuba, the state run food options were pretty basic and bland. Hotel los Jasmines was no exception.
Home cooked meals at casa particulars and family run paladars were the MUCH preferred option whenever possible. In fact, I would go so far as to say, that you should only eat out if you are planning on going to a family run paladar. Otherwise stay at home, and enjoy the fresh, seasonal produce and hospitality of your casa host.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.