En route to finding the path across the valley to the town I had come across two small restaurants, in one they told me that they had very good food for vegetarians and served rice and vegetables and wine. I tried to walk there at night, down a path by the hotel but after five minutes in pitch darkness with neither light nor light pollution the silence of the woods suddenly began to spook me. They had asked me if I was definitely coming and I told them I didnt know, in the darkness on the deserted path I realised I probably would have been there only guest as the night time seemed a time to dine in the hotel after all. On my last two days in Vinales I stared to slow down and make the time go more slowly, not doing so much and not reading so much but simply sitting, or lounging by the pool and watching the beautiful valley. This watching and deliberate slowing down of time was helped by the black birds of prey circling high above the lines of tiny horses wending their way through the valley and farmers, driving their oxen minutely below. The beauty of the lush emerald valley and the strange mountains rising up from it sometimes became a backdrop to the characters passing through it. I had positioned my lounger in the shade at the edge of the pool and at the edge of the hill top by a spot where I knew inevitably coach trippers would periodically come to take pictures and smoke and shriek.
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From England I had arranged an expensive 90 euro taxi ride to Vinales rather than take a ride to Havana just to rummage around in a suitcase, scatter things around, sleep for one night, pick up the scattered things and set off again in the morning. I had read that the views in Valle de Vinales were spectacular and wanted to wake up to them. It took two hours and I hurtled along the almost empty motorway answering Jorge’s barrage of questions in broken Spanish until exhausted I gave up and and decided to continue improving my Spanish after some sleep. Once off the main road, poor Jorge, probably two hours away from home had trouble finding the hotel. I helped him decide at ambiguously sign-posted junctions and kept a list in my head of all the times I had read that Cuba was a very safe country, especially when he stopped the car a couple of times to turn around and try to understand my disappearing Spanish. I kept quiet. Finally I checked into the Hotel Los Jazmines and was taken down a path leading away from the main building and down some steps with little terraced bungalows to my left and the warm pitch black night to my right. The darkness was alive with the chorus of a trillion insects. I realised that I had almost forgotten the smell of fresh air.