Although a major set back occurred when my valuables were stolen, I wasn’t going to let that rain on my parade. It was Sunday morning and the U.S. Embassy was closed until Monday, so my friend George and I decided to take advantage of the time we still had in Cuba. I got many recommendations to go to Vinales, so that’s what we did. It’s considered the countryside of Cuba. Luckily, we were able to hire a last minute private driver for the day trip which included a tour of the tobacco farm and rum distillery for $75CUC each.
On the way to Vinales, it was a very scenic route. Everything was so green. It took us about two hours to reach our first destination which was Valle de Vinales. Check out all that greenery, it was breathtaking!!
Our next stop was to the tobacco farm where we had a demonstration of the wrapping of the cigars and even got to sample a Monte Cristo cigar. Although I’m not a smoker, I had to try the Cuban cigar, of course! ..It wasn’t bad, I actually did enjoy it.
After that, they offered an option to go horse back riding to the rum distillery. I’ve always had a connection with horses because of their run-free and wild spirit, and after all they are my spirit animal, so of course we did that! It was just an additional $15CUC, totally worth it!
When we first arrived to the rum distillery, there was a lady who gave us a little tour of how the Cuban coffee bean was grown and the whole process of what it took to make it. Then she sat us down and informed us of their rum. She gave us a sample of their rum, and offered different drinks with it inside. I ordered this drink with sugarcane, lemon, orange, pineapple, and the guayabita de pinar rum. It was so delicious and refreshing. I thought about getting a second but decided not to because I was running on an empty stomach. But it was definitely MmmmMM..!!
A man walked by with his guitar and serenaded me with his beautiful voice. I don’t know if he had a great voice or not but I think the drink gave me a head change so I was suuure having a great time! Hahha
We then rode our horses back and our driver took us to a local lunch spot. The restaurant was called El Campesino and it was pretty good. The best thing about it though was the beautiful view of the green valley. It was very calming and serene. After I was done eating, I took a few moments to just sit, relax, and reflect on what an amazing trip Cuba had been so far. After lunch, our tour was done and the driver took us back to our stay.
Vinales was a great experience and I too would recommend it if you were to ever visit Cuba…
The next morning, George and I went to the U.S Embassy as soon as it opened to try and get a new passport for me. We were the first ones there so luckily there wasn’t a wait. The whole process was quite easy actually. (NOTE: Make sure to have a copy of your passport with you whenever you’re traveling overseas because it’s so much easier for them to look you up in the system if you do happen to lose it.) Luckily, I had my copy so they were able to pull me up right away. They then sent me across the street to a photo place to take my picture and that was it! The whole process took about 1 hour and a half and I left with my temporary passport in hand. WOO-HOO!!!! I was so relieved!
George and I had a few hours until our flight back home so I decided to call our new friend Andy who we met a couple days before to hang out. We rented a classic car and got a tour of Havana. Andy told the driver to take us to this lighthouse where we got a whole view of the city during sunset. It was so beautiful! After that, we decided to go get some food at a restaurant that offered free salsa lessons. Of course that was my idea! Haha. I had lots of fun, learned a few new moves, and THAT was the end to my crazy, eye-opening, unpredictable Cuban adventure.
Before we left to the airport, I met up Carlos to say good-bye. I thanked him for all that he had done for us and gave him a great big hug. George and I gathered the rest of the cash we had left and gave it to Carlos. Although it really wasn’t much, he was sooo grateful. He thanked me as I saw his eyes get a little teary. 🙁 He told me that he was going to take some of the money to go get his family some powdered milk and chicken for dinner. He said his wife will be very surprised and happy about that. My heart sank so heavily… I wish I had more money on me to give to him but with Cuba not using credit/debit cards, I couldn’t pull anymore cash. I knew that it would be okay though, because there will be more opportunities to help him out. We exchanged information, I got his address, and I told him that I will send him and his family some little goodies when I get back to the states. And then, we parted ways…..
Sigh……. my adventure in Cuba really can’t be put into words because when I think about Cuba, it’s not just a word, it’s a FEELING. With its fun-loving/passionate culture, to the old and preserved yet not preserved architecture, to the lush/green beautiful landscape, and etc etc… I could go on. But the one thing that I value most about my trip to Cuba was the love and trust I felt from a complete stranger who has now become a life-long friend. My heart radiates with love as I feel the love go round. I am full. I am complete. I am LOVE! Thank YOU!
***As I had mentioned earlier, I am going to send Carlos and his family a box of some of their favorite goodies. Carlos loves the brand Vans so I was going to send him a pair. For his wife Anisley, she was already very happy but what I would want to send her are some cute clothes and make-up. And for sweet, charismatic Irlanda, she LOVES Mickey Mouse, (that’s why Carlos got a tattoo of it on his arm) so I wanted to send her Mickey Mouse toys and clothes.
This is where I ask for your participation. I ask ALL of my family/friends/supporters to help me raise more funds for this beautiful family. You can donate as much or as little as you would like and I promise, there is no judgment, I just ask for something. It’s totally free to send cash through Venmo or Paypal so I’m making this as easy as possible for everyone. My Venmo email address is Tracybui78@yahoo.com or account is @tracy-bui. My Paypal email address is Tracybui08@gmail.com or you can add on to the items I discussed above, any way is perfect. If there’s any questions feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly. I assure you that each and every single penny that is raised will go to Carlos and his family. (Just a reminder, I wouldn’t ask for you help unless I reallyyyy meant it!)
March 31, 2018 at 11:59pm will be the deadline for you to help. At the end of every week until then, I will be posting updates on how much was earned on my Instagram story @tracytreks. So be sure to follow me! Once all is collected, I’ll wrap everything in a big box and ship to Carlos and his family in Cuba. Thank you sooo much for reading and for your continued support. As always, I am sending LOVE, LIGHT, and ABUNDANCE to you, ALL! #tracytreks
P.S. Don’t just talk about it, let’s all BE about it!
partial photo credit: @_geedoubleyou_