Dec 26 – 29
Vinales is a tiny agricultural town that has allowed the influx of tourism transform itself into a backpacker town — the one-story wooden houses with porches are now all “casas”, selling rooms to tourists and offering meals and services to grow their revenue streams. The national park in this valley is beautiful but the town itself is soulless. Vinales has gorgeous surroundings but the lack of infrastructure to support the tourism seems to be slowly degrading the experience.
Our drive over to Vinales was truly a bonding experience as the minivan we arranged turned out to be an old VW minivan that really struggled through the journey – so much so that we had the radiator overheat and had to stop on the journey to let the car cool, not to mention, take a slower journey along the way.
Upon arrival, we had a bit of drama as our casas that were arranged only had three rooms instead of four. In our effort to discuss how to organize the rooming situation, we managed to upset one of the casa owners, who disrespectfully threw Adriana, Popy and I out. We managed to get the guys in that room though, and swap casas so the girls had a place to stay. We were still one room short and generally speaking, the town was pretty booked up.
Fortunately, since casa reservations are based on trust rather than a deposit, there is a no-show rate which meant that Bastiaan and I managed to walk down the street, get introduced to Mariegel and get the last room in her casa. So despite all the drama, we all managed to find accommodation.
Meeting Marigel was a blessing since she was extremely helpful and organized our couple days in Vinales. We spent the first day taking a walking trip in the mountains, with a stop at a Coffee plantation, a cave, and most exciting, drink our first canchancharra.
Later that day, we visited Cave Del Indo, the mural and did a small canopy tour – the best part being getting Popy to start to conquer her fear of heights on the zip lines.
On the second day, we opted for a beach day and hired a couple taxis to make our way to Cayo Juto. The ride to the beach took about an hour and 45 minutes, primarily due to road conditions. The beach itself was nice – it had one restaurant, a snack bar, a bathroom and a small aquatic center. There was no scuba diving available despite their advertising so we did a short snorkeling tour instead. The water visibility was great – super clear.