Cuba was one of the most tropical and lush countries I have been to. The soil beneath me always stained my shoes brick-red, like on the softball fields I played on as a kid. Something about it (or maybe its the green thumbs of the Cuban farmers) made what grew in Cuba absolutely flourish. Everything I ate and drank was so natural, coming straight from the ground or from a tree. It felt amazing to fast from processed foods and sugar for two weeks, while constantly sweating and drinking more water in the heat. No wonder the cancer rate in Cuba is next to nothing.
While on nature walks in Vinales, a sleepy farming town west of Havana, my friends and I learned about many farming processes that are practiced in Cuba, and how it affects the economy. The biggest export in Cuba is of course tobacco, which is the money-making crop for the government. During season, farmers grow the green leaves and then dry them out till brown in tabacco drying huts. The huts are constructed from thatch and dried palm leaves to allow ventilation while keeping out rain and wind. Grueling hard work goes into this farming process, but 90% of proceeds go to the government and the workers are paid the equivalent of $20-$30 a month. These farmers have become artists of agriculture and have seemed to master nature, yet their reward is next to nothing.
With modern tractors and other equipment nonexistent in Vinales, farmers are forced to use the harder route and do everything by hand. They do have livestock to help them. While walking, a farmer hauled fresh water to the restaurant on top of the hill by oxen and sled on the slick mud. I was amazed by how many people rode horses. It seemed no matter the age, the locals were riding horses bare back to get groceries at the store or go out to the fields. Horses are the four-legged Uber of Vinales.
Besides agriculture, the surrounding natural landscapes in Cuba were also outstanding. Coming from Florida and the Bahamas, both very flat and beachy, it was refreshing to be flooded with shades of green and rolling mountains in the horizon. Interesting rock formations rainbowed over us on hikes and the sound of rushing water was music to my ears as we jumped into chilly waterfall lagoons. Natural places to explore in Cuba are endless, which makes every minute an adventure.
What is your favorite outdoorsy thing to do? Are there any fruits and vegetables local to your home that you love? Tell me about it in the comments below!