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Tag Archives: Cuba

Amo Las Mujeres

I’m taking a break from the road trip saga to wish a happy International Women’s Day to all the women of the world…and the men who love them.

You’ve heard of wearing your feelings on your sleeve?  Well, this Cuban gentleman wears his on his forehead!

“Amo las mujeres.”  “I love women.”

Amen to that!

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mogotes

The Vinales valley in Cuba is filled with mogotes.  “Filled with WHAT?” you ask.  Mogotes are basically lumps of harder rock (in this case, limestone) that remain after the softer rock surrounding them has eroded away, leaving them exposed.

These huge, rounded formations are found throughout the valley, plunging almost vertically out of the earth, sometimes several hundred feet up.  The mogotes loom over the otherwise flat farmland dotted with a few scraggly bushes and the occasional palm tree, and giving the region a somewhat surreal look.

mogotes 4

See what I mean?  The palms in the image above are actually growing on top of smaller mogotes in the foreground, but the ground fog is obscuring those mogotes and making it look like the palms are floating in mid-air…trippy, man!

Same effect in the image below.  It reminds me of a long exposure of water flowing around rocks.  Actually, since fog IS water vapor, I guess that’s a pretty accurate description, isn’t it?

mogotes 5

The image below shows how large the mogotes can be, and how dramatically these monoliths rise out of the soil.  Again, these are right in the middle of the valley.  You can see the hills on the far side of the valley behind them.

mogotes 3-2

I just love how the ground fog made an unusual landscape even more intriguing.  This was by far the most beautiful area I visited in Cuba.  I only wish I had had more than only two days to spend in this fascinating region.

mogotes 2

cow and palms

This is a pretty typical scene in the Vinales region of Cuba:  a cow grazing in a field.  It’s not typical to see a cow with only one horn, however.  A unicow?

I wish I knew the back story and could tell you why this cow is the one-horned wonder.  I think she’s kind of sweet, despite her asymmetry…or maybe because of it.

Having only one horn makes her stand out from the herd.  Thus, I suppose you could say that she’s out standing in her field!

turkey

These are some of the animals that are kept on the small farms in the Vinales region of Cuba.  I saw very few turkeys, and I think this is the only turkey image I got.  Ironically, this is a better turkey image than anything I’ve been able to get in the states.  Clearly I need to give up on chasing wild turkeys through the fields and woods, and just shoot the ones at the farms.

pig

There are tons of pigs in Cuba.  If  someone’s raising an animal for meat, chances are it’s a pig.  The pork in Cuba is delicious!  One of the tastiest treats I enjoyed during my visit was a pork sandwich from a street vendor in Trinidad.  It was small, like a slider, but the pork was juicy and tender, and it was served on a small bun with a slice of tomato, some shredded cabbage, and a dash of vinegar.  Sadly, I didn’t get a shot of the sandwich because I ate it too fast!  You have to settle for an image of “pork on the hoof,” as it were.

I also saw the occasional duck.  The one below is part Muscovy.  They interbreed with other duck species and you can get some interesting-looking birds.  The eyes on this one were a striking blue.  Not all Muscovies are this attractive!

duck

horse and buggy

This gentleman was out for a ride on his cart one morning in the Vinales region of Cuba.  So who’s “walkin’ on air?”  Why the horse, of course!  Did you notice that all four hoofs aren’t touching the ground?

For you non-horsy types, this is known as “extension,” or an “extended trot.”

Call it what you will, I think it looks pretty cool.  The horse looks very healthy and trim.  The owner, on the other hand, looks as though he could use a little more walkin’ to be as fit as his steed.

Nice to know I’m not the only one who should ride less and walk more…

sleigh

OK,  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand a thing about farming…so can anyone tell me what the contraption this gentleman is riding on is for?  I mean, the wheel’s been invented, right?  There are easier ways to get around.

It’s one of those things that I forgot to ask about at the time, since I was so busy taking pictures…and now I’m looking at this image and thinking “Darn, people are going to want to know what that ‘sleigh’ thingee is for, and I don’t have the slightest idea!”

So I’ll throw the question back at you, dear readers.  I know at least a couple of you have been to Cuba.  And for all I know, these gizmos are used elsewhere on earth as well.  So please, fill in the blank:

“It’s a __________!”

oxen

These two bulls belong to the gentleman who was featured in the last two days’ posts.  They stood and waited patiently while their owner had his photo op.  These are Brahman bulls, which are often used in tropical climates since they can withstand the heat and humidity better than other breeds.  Thus they’re perfectly suited for Cuba!  I saw a lot of these critters, pulling wagons on the roads and plows in the fields.  They don’t move quickly, but they have a lot of stamina.  Some of these bulls can weigh over a ton!

hands

This is the same gentleman who was featured in yesterday’s post (“A Vinales Local,” 03.22.13).  He was sitting in a chair in front of a farmhouse, and I was struck by how his weathered hands and worn boots looked next to the once brightly painted and now “distressed” wood of the chair.  To me they tell a story as much as his face does in yesterday’s image.

feet

farmer

I photographed this gentleman on one of his neighbor’s farms in the Vinales region of Cuba.  Talk about a face with character!

cottage 2

Traveling through the Vinales region of Cuba last January, I fell in love with this little cottage.  Imagine being able to walk 10 steps out your front door to pick ripe bananas!  It had a nice view of the valley, and was up on a rise where it could pick up a bit of breeze even on  the hottest and most humid of days.  Both the house and the land appeared to be well cared for.  The lawn was freshly mowed and the house looked like it had been painted pretty recently.

So many houses in this region had at least two rockers facing the road that I wondered if there was a local ordinance mandating matching rocking chairs on every front porch.  But look at the small windows, and remember that there’s no AC.  When the porch is in the shade, it’s likely to be the coolest place on the property, and definitely more comfortable than being indoors.

I think I could’ve whiled away an afternoon or three sitting in one of those rocking chairs, catching up on my reading, or visiting with a friend or neighbor, admiring the view and watching the shadows lengthen, waiting for the temperature to drop and the  light to soften in the evening so I could go do some more shooting.

It would’ve been a fine spot to sit and savor a refreshing daiquiri, or even a local cigar.  Vinales is one of the prime tobacco-growing regions of Cuba.

Yes, I’m thinking an afternoon spent in a pink wooden rocker on a shady porch, drinking an icy beverage made with local rum, occasionally savoring a few puffs on a locally grown and rolled stogie, and reading a good book–Hemingway?–would pretty much be heaven on earth.  I’m sure even Papa would approve.

Any takers?