architecture, culture, landscape, photography, travel, world

Visiting Viñales

600_7639-ec_wIn my last post I focused on the UNESCO world heritage, the valley of Viñales. Literally this valley ist named by the town nearby.

Viñales is a small town. A few tiny shops along the main street, the main square and a nice little church. From the visitors aspect, the town isn’t very interesting. But the valley itself is. So, Viñales is the perfect location for starting your exploration of this interesting valley.

In one of the smaller valleys you can also find an art project: mural de la prehistory. A photo is in the gallery below. One side of a hill is covered with a huge painting. It’s 120 meters high and 180 meters broad. The Mexican artist  Leovigildo González Morillo created it in 1961. Every few years this painting has to be refreshed, because the periodical heavy rains fades out the paint.

To watch this painting, you can go and pay an entrance fee. I didn’t. I my opinion it was enough, to see it from the street (path). But, have a look yourself.

Take care!

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architecture, culture, landscape, photography, travel, world

Valley of Viñales

600_7644-e_wThis valley is a UNESCO world heritage. Valle de Viñales (in spanish) is located in the Piñar del Río Province in the north-west of Cuba. Being a world heritage means, people aren’t allowed to change the landscape. They are forbidden to build telephone or electricity lines by using pillars to hold them up in the air. So, you won’t see any of them in the valley. But, most, if not all, farms do have sun collectors for making their own electricity near by the houses. The people own different electrical devices. Not only devices in the kitchen, but also devices like radios or TVs.

The soil in the valley is very red. You might have noticed this in my earlier posts on tobacco farming. But in my photo gallery at the end of this post you can see, that I didn’t change the color in my photos accidentally.

Continue reading “Valley of Viñales”

culture, flowers, meeting, photography, travel, world

growing tobacco

600_7672-e_wGrowing tobacco is hard work. It’s harder than growing i.e. corn, potatoes or grain. That’s because the farmer has to prepare his patch first with the plough and saw the seeds. But, he also has to go in his patch every day to cut the blossoms and pick unwanted leaves. It reminded me to the  wine growers work.

Everything is done by manual work. Ploughs and carriages are pulled by oxen. We didn’t see any machine in the fields.

Take care.

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culture, flowers, meeting, photography, travel, world

making cigars

600_7878-e_wLast week I wrote about how I met two tobacco farmers and showed a few photos. I also told about the process how to prepare the tobacco leaves for making cigars. Today I continue on this.

In the photo above, you can see a tobacco patch to the left and a drying house in the back, where the leaves are hung up for drying. The process for creating a cigar from the dry leaves is quite simple as you can see from the gallery at the bottom of this post. Young and soft leaves are in the core, wrapped by older and bigger leaves. The cover leave is wrapped outside and glued with a fluid.

Each leave is cut along the finning (leaf vein). The vein is never used for cigars. The vein is the part of the leaf with the highest level of nicotine and other chemicals that make smoking so dangerous. On the other hand, for cigarettes the whole leaves are shredded, so that a cigarette is more dangerous for one’s health than smoking a cigar.

At last the ready cigars were put into the wooden form for a few weeks to make them resistant against self dissolving.  But, you could also start to smoke one at once, if you want to.

Take care.

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culture, flowers, meeting, technic, travel, world

visiting a tobacco farmer

600_7692-s_wAs I mentioned in my last post, we also visited tobacco farmers. One got the patches from his father 5 years ago, when his father was 80 years old and too old to do that work anymore. He told us much about producing cigars, while the other one showed us, how to assemble a cigar. The farmers get the seeds from the government. They grow the plants and when they get a certain hight, the start to harvest the first leaves, those at the bottom. They become the outer cover sheet. Later the plants start blooming and the blooms have to be cut and given back to the government. Also, the government get’s 80% of the dried leaves, while the farmers are allowed to keep the remaining 20% for their own use. This is the source for the cigar sellers in the cities I mentioned earlier.

The government operated fabrics assemble their cigars by using leaves from different growing places (full sun, part shadow or shadow), different tobacco species and different farms. The leave ware not only hung up for drying, they also voted by certain marinade for the fermentation process. Each farmer has his own secret receipt for this marinade. On the other hand, the leaves of farmers cigars are all from their own patches. That’s why cigars from different brands have different tastes.

On the table in the above photo you can see the tools needed for assembling a cigar, 3 ready cigars and a few roles / bundles of farmer’s cigars covered by a thin layer of wood as a very basic variant of humidor. In the background you can see many bunches of drying tobacco leaves, as we are in the drying house at the moment. Here in the drying house you have a very distinct smell of fall, autumn foliage and cigar boxes (as I remember from my grandfathers cigar boxes) or tobacco shops. The smell of cigars is already there, but it also smells like fall, when the trees lost their leaves, that are laying on the ground and start drying and fouling. Although, the tobacco leaves won’t start fouling, but drying.

Next week, I’ll focus on the patches and the work outside.

Take care!

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culture, meeting, people, photography, technic, travel, world

Visiting a humidor manufactury

600_7581-sc_wTobacco is very important in Cuba, especially in the north. Not only you find big tobacco patches and cigar manufactories, you can also find workshops, where they build those boxes for storing cigars in optimal conditions, with regard on humidity and temperature. All the cigar and humidor factories are operated by the government. All? No, a few manufactories are already private owned and operated by tobacco farmers (producing cigars) and carpenters (making humidors).

You can visit both, cigar and humidor factories and see people assembling cigars respectively cutting the wood for humidors. But, as in all government operated factories a visitor is forbidden to bring any kind of bag (even not a lady’s handbag) or a camera. On the other hand, when visiting a tobacco farmer or a craftsman, you can ask for permission, as I did.

In case, you think of a humidor of being a simple box made of cheap woods or card box to sell the cigars, so you are wrong. Storing cigars and keep them in good shape is really complicated and need a lot of specific knowledge.

Here you can see, some of the wonderful humidors. They are made of wood from cedar trees, which is best for keeping the right humidity inside the box. More luxurious boxes even have hygrometer for metering the humidity inside the box. In case the humidity is too high, the cigars would begin fouling. Is it too low, they’d drying out. Both conditions are bad, if you want to smoke them.

In the gallery you can not only see many more humidors, you can also have a look inside the workshop.

Have fun and take care!

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animals, photography, travel, world

some cuban birds – part IV

600_8203-ec_wThis is the final post in this little series on cuban birds. In case, you missed one of the previous posts, you can find them here.

In this post I want to introduce you to the cuban national bird, the Cuban Trogon. You can see it in the photo above.

The other two birds on the photos in this posts gallery can be found in a wider area. The brown pelican is at home in the whole Caribbean area as well as in california. While the turkey vulture can be found in all parts of south, middle and south america.

Have fun.

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