Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vinales and Back

After lunch, we climbed aboard the bus again to have a rather exclusive tour of a tobacco curing and sorting house (escogida).  The tobacco comes here after speding between 45-60 days at the drying barns.  Here the leaves are misted and then aired and then fermented in piles so impurities are released.  Temperature and humidity are quite important at this point.
Because of the connections made by Kip and the folks at Santa Fe Photo Workshop, the Escogida Manager gave us a tour of the place.  You can see where the women who are the sorters are up front.  In the back here was an office and a place for time cards and then into another building where more of the tobacco was fermenting.
Now the leaves go to the sorters who "grade" the tobacco.  It was hard to get a good shot of these women because they were working so quickly.  I asked the Manager why only women were working there and she said it was because they were more patient and paid better attention to details than men would.
After the leaves are graded, they are once more sprayed with water and covered in burlap to be fermented again and sent to the factories in square bales wrapped in palm bark called tercios.

It takes two years before the tobacco is ready to be made into the famous cigars, considered the best in the world.  JK taking a puff off a freshly made cigar.

After our tobacco adventure, it was off to another tobacco farm.  We were given a demonstration of rolling a handmade cigar in the drying house and then got to wander around a bit. 

Many of the women photographers remarked upon the good looks of this farmer.  When his wife heard, she laughed and take him away and then he'll have to send me money!

These birds are really free range, they wandered all over outside their hen house.  Mr Turkey kept trying to scare us all off  by fanning his tail feathers or he was infatuated with one of us, hard to tell. 

We even got to see a horse getting shod.  Really freaked me out as I didn't know they used such long nails to make the horse shoe stay on.  We got back on the bus and went back to the overlook since it was the golden part of the day with wonderful lighting and we all ordered drinks at this wonderful little hotel 

Would love to come back here and laze around the pool.  Would be great if future trips would include an overnight stay here for a few days.  Much more mellow than the hustle and bustle of Havana.  After our cocktails, it was back on the bus for the long ride home in the sunset.
We still had one more day in Havana with time to go around the city on our own and then in the afternoon see a rehearsal of an Afro-Cuban dance troupe.

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