Double Edged Sword

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Casa Osviel
What I did
Vinales Valley Cuba
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Santa Tomas Cave

Flag of Cuba  , Pinar del Rio,
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bright and early we boarded our (French) tour to Vinales, which took 5 hours and involved stopping at a rum factory and a lookout - none of which we were expecting and was highly amusing! Ozviel met us off the bus in Vinales and escorted us home. On route we passed his children's school and on cue, the twin 8 year old boys appeared at the school window with hands outstretched for lunch money! The house was lovely, and Ozviel's food also was really something! That afternoon he suggested we take a tour of the mountains with his farmer friend who had horses. This rang some alarm bells for Liz (who has staunchly avoided horse related activities because it can be difficult to check their condition before you agree), and unfortunately this turned out to be an omen. The next 4 hours were not much fun, the horses were in the worst condition we'd seen, and the manner of their treatment involved whipping whoever was at the back so we were in a crazy four horse race to be at the front at all times, with the terrified animals doing their best on their weakened legs. We eventually complained to Ozviel who explained that food and medicine for animals was in short supply. However we now know veterinary attention is very cheap for locals, and as we paid $20 each for the privilege, these horses belonged to someone far richer than the people working on the farms who treated their animals much better. Since thinking about it Liz is pretty sure they had internal parasites and a good worming would help immensely.

The next day we went to Santo Tomas cave (which was fabulous) and the Botanical Garden (also lovely, and the only time I have eaten grapefruit and liked it). Afterwards we sat in the main square and had a drink. Sadly this was when we encountered a street dog in the worst state we'd seen so far (in the whole of Latin America). She was emaciated, had no fur left from scratching, and had eye and back-end infections. She was being shunned by everyone due to her being "enfermo" and couldn't find shade to rest in like the other dogs so had to sleep in the sun in the main square. We fed her and left feeling very sad. The next day we were back to the same cafe to wait for the bus. Again there she was, again we fed her and she was so glad of the human attention. Liz was in tears getting on the bus.

So for all the beauty, the rougher-side of Cuba was more clearly visible to us.
- James
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