Since arriving in Viñales, we have had the opportunity of meeting our host families for the first time. Immediately, they welcomed us into their homes and did not hesitate to help us with our needs (this may or may not include getting rid of a relatively docile wasp and aiding us when we didn’t have the strength to open our doors). After getting settled, as most families of the children on this trip already know, we went to buy WiFi cards. With 1 CUC, one has access to to an hour of WiFi. After getting in touch with our families for the first time, we went for dinner at El Patio. El patio gave us access to even more WiFi so many kids spent some of their time on the roof with their phones, or chatting amongst themselves up there, instead of staying at the tables. After dinner, the group was given free time to wander the town for 20 minutes. Despite the newfound freedom, many kids elected to stay at their houses and play cards.
The next day, we woke up bright and early and had breakfast with the host families. After a filling meal, we took several classic taxis, including a 1948 Chevy, to a farm where we worked in the fields and gardens to aid the farmers. In two groups, we helped weed the vegetable garden and cover up the papaya roots with tobacco stalks to help the plants stay hydrated through Cuba’s current drought as well as provide protection from insect pests. When all the work on the farm was done and we had already eaten a snack and lunch, we took a tour of a different tobacco farm. There, we met an injured, yet lively, dog and had to walk around many obstacles such as horse poop. During the tour, we saw the tobacco fields, and learned about the process of turning the tobacco into one of Cuba’s more famous staples, cigars. I’m sad to say that we are almost halfway through the trip as we have been having so much fun, especially since the weather has been more than generous as well as the people. Cuba is definitely worth returning to.
Maria and Jennifer