PHOTOGRAPHED: Exploring Viñales and the Viñales Valley

PHOTOGRAPHED: Exploring Viñales and the Viñales Valley

About 90 miles and three hours west of Havana is Viñales, a rural outpost of single-story homes — some tidy, some shacks — all with porches where people sit and watch and socialize with their neighbors.

North of the town is the Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site  that looks like Jurassic Park.

(Above photo: A farmhand looks like he’s about to draw a gun but he was just in a hurry as he walked past the tobacco field at the farm we visited. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©))

How To Roll A Cuban

We visited a tobacco farm in the town of Viñales. There we drank some local rum with a farmer while we watched him roll cigars, which we smoked. The first photos show a little bit about that process.


Farmer stands next to a thatched building.
DRY HOUSE: The farmer gave us a tour of the tobacco farm starting at the air-curing barn. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


Closeup of farmer outside the air-curing barn.
PUBLIC RELATIONS BEFORE A SALE: There was no charge for the short tour but it’s expected that you’ll buy something that’s made on the farm and we did not disappoint.  (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


Farmer stands next to some tobacco leaves drying inside a barn.
NATURAL SMOKE: Air-curing is a natural process where tobacco leaves are hung up to dry. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A farmer spreads out a tobacco leaf.

CIGAR ROLLING 101: Tricia had a mojito and I had a strong coffee with a shot of Guayabita del Pinar rum while we watched the farmer roll. The rum is made with dwarf guava fruit. We purchased a bottle as well as some cigars, honey and coffee beans. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


Two hands hold a tobacco leaf.

(Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A hand starts to roll a cigar.

(Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A hand finishes rolling a cigar.

QUICK WRIST ACTION: And with a quick flick of the wrist he finished rolling a cigar. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


Tricia takes a drag on a cigar in front of a Che Guevara banner.
SWEET SMOKE: The farmer told us to dip the end of the cigar in honey, explaining that that’s how Che Guevara liked to smoke because the honey was good for his asthma. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A Look At the Valley

A view of the valley with birds flying.
PREHISTORIC VIEW: The Viñales Valley, north of town, has a beautiful prehistoric vibe to it. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


Tricia and I pose in front of the mural.
ANCIENT POSE: In the background is the Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria. It depicts world history up until the age of humans and was painted in 1961 by the former Director of Mapping at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Leovigildo González Morillo. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A man on horseback by the side of a road.
GOING UP THE COUNTRY: In Viñales you’ll see many people riding horses. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


A hotel with large swimming pool beneath the hills of Vinales.
FORBIDDEN HOTEL: U.S. citizens would probably have no trouble checking into this government-run hotel in the Viñales Valley but they’d be breaking U.S. regulations against giving money to the Cuban government. (Photo by Mark Micheli ©)


[Check out more of my photos of Cuba here.]