My final day in Cuba, October 20, 2012
We began the day traveling 2.5 hours to the western part of the country. We went to a view-point where you can look out in the valley, surrounded by mountains and Mogotes, the most ancient rocks in Cuba. They are all that remains of what once was a limestone plateau. It was really beautiful.
I decided it would be a good place to take a group photo.
We boarded the bus and headed down into the valley to have lunch. We ate at a place that was basically like a shelter house, without walls and such. The place we traveled to was at the foot of a mogote where a beautiful mural was painted on the face of it called Mural de la Prehistoria.
After our wonderful lunch, we traveled to a cigar factory. It was a little disappointing because we weren’t allowed to take any photos. Boo! But I did learn a lot about the process:
Cuba grows the best tobacco product in the world (according to them). The cigar is made up of four different leaves: 1 – little pieces in the middle to make the combustion; 2 – the shell; 3 – the cover and 4 – the final layer dabbed with a little glue. All the cigars in Cuba are hand-rolled. You have to take a six month training course to work in the factories and then you have to pass a health test to make sure you aren’t allergic to the tobacco leaves, their smell or their smoke. An average worker rolls about 150 cigars per day.
The best part of the day, for me, was our next stop, at a local farmer’s house which was right up the road from where we had lunch. He was wonderful. First we went into the barn where he dries his tobacco leaves. He showed us what the seeds looked like and gave everyone a cigar (if they wanted one) to smoke. Don’t be fooled by this picture. I borrowed this one from one of my female passengers to make the photo look better:
That evening we had our farewell dinner together and then I went to my room to pack up and reflect on my time in Cuba. It was such an educational trip for me. It opened my eyes to what others face in just a short 90 miles away. Would I return to Cuba? Not sure. Would I call it one of my favorite places to visit? Probably not. Am I glad I went? Absolutely.
Now that I have been back for a week, I can tell you that I am much more appreciative of where I live and the blessings we take for granted every single day. I haven’t really complained about anything (other than the cold weather we are getting now) and feel a true sense of contentment.
Traveling abroad is a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who may be contemplating a trip outside of the US. You will come back with a true appreciation for our country.
Thanks for taking this journey with me. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it.
Now what the heck am I going to blog about next??