A Change of Scenery and a New Place to Stay

By Kayla Shults

Wednesday morning began bright and early as we checked out of the Hotel Capri and got ready for the four hour drive to Viñales, the countryside town where we would be spending the night in someone’s private home, known in Cuba as a casa particulare.

A view of the land from the top of Las Terrazas. Photo by Kayla Shults.

About an hour and a half into the drive, we stopped at Las Terrazas. Las Terrazas is a small, eco-friendly community and nature reserve that was sanctioned as a place to reverse the effects of deforestation and preserve the environment. We were greeted at Las Terrazas with a welcome cocktail and a performance by the band Alabao, before heading out to explore the land with our tour guide Oriol.

Oriol is one of the nearly 1,015 people who lives and works in  Las Terrazas. The community features a school and daycare for the children, a hotel for tourists, restaurants and even a zipline. Oriol is one of the most energetic and happy people that I have ever met, and it is so easy to see the true passion he has for his job and being able to show off his home to the visitors this place gets every day. And even though we visited on a cloudy day, the mountains, trees and lakes were some of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.

Las Terrazas is covered with waterfalls, lakes, trees and beautiful flowers like this one. Photo by Kayla Shults.

Las Terrazas is covered with waterfalls, lakes, trees and beautiful flowers like this one. Photo by Kayla Shults.

After about four hours exploring Las Terrazas, meeting the people and enjoying a delicious lunch with a band and of course, salsa dancing, it was time to say goodbye to Oriol and board the bus to continue our journey to Viñales.

Abby and I stayed in the home of Maritza and Tato. Their house was beautiful and even had a rooftop view. Photo by Kayla Shults

Abby and I stayed in the home of Maritza and Tato. Their house was beautiful and even had a rooftop view. Photo by Kayla Shults

Once we arrived, we split up and entered the homes of our Cuban families that were stretched out over two blocks. Abby and I stayed in the home of Maritza and Tato along with a couple from Quebec who ended up playing translators for the night as my Spanish skills were still slim to none, even with the help of my Spanish-English dictionary.

We spent the first part of the night exploring our new neighborhood and getting a bird’s eye view of Viñales thanks to our family’s rooftop. The best part of the evening, however, came when Maritza made us what I think was the best dinner of the entire trip. Julio, who was staying at the house next door, even joined us for dinner. The dozen plates of food certainly kept us full for the rest of the night!

After dinner, we sat on the back of the porch and enjoyed the sounds of the rain before falling asleep in Viñales.

A panoramic view of Vinales from the rooftop of our casa particulare. Photo by Kayla Shults.

A panoramic view of Vinales from the rooftop of our casa particulare. Photo by Kayla Shults.

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One Response to A Change of Scenery and a New Place to Stay

  1. Your Grandmother. Joan Kelly says:

    Kayla,
    I am ready to fly off to Cuba. Pop and I are so happy you made this trip. May it be the first of many adventures for you.
    God bless, I love you.
    Mom

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