Viñales, Cuba | 27th August - 1st September
Travel Latin America Cuba

As you get off the bus in Viñales, hundreds of people swarm around you and compete to get your attention. They’re all hustlers who represent the town’s various Casa Particulars - Cuba’s bed-and-breakfast style tourism infrastructure that allows locals to rent rooms in their houses in exchange for the vital CUC currency.

The wheeling and dealing hustlers will bargain prices, package together deals and even use dirty tricks to get valuable customers. It’s the perfect free market, and stands in complete contradiction to the ideals that Che and Fidel fought for. ¿Viva la Revolutión?

The casas are a great way to experience Cuba, as you are living with a family in their home, and they prepare meals, book excursions and help out in every way. I was able to practice my Spanish more than in any hostel.

Turns out, the owner of our casa in Viñales was in Africa in the 70’s, specifically along the border in Angola, fighting against white South African troops as part of the cold war. I asked him if he had any trinkets or photos, but he didn’t. I wish I could have spoken more about the war with him, but my Spanish only stretched so far.