Blog by Ally and Julia

We’ve spent this past week farming, speaking Spanish, and relaxing in the beautiful town of Las Jazmines right outside of Viñales. During our mornings here we’ve been helping out on local farms, doing jobs such as planting lettuce, moving soil to beds, harvesting tomatoes, and prepping beds. The farmers here had difficulty finding jobs for us to do because of the drought that has been cursing el campo for about 9 months now, so on the one afternoon that it rained we all shared the same hopeful excitement that the farmers felt.

After mornings on the farm, we enjoyed a well deserved siesta and lunch and then continued our day with Spanish classes run by David and Amanda. We split into groups, one group reviewing tricky verb tenses and conjugations and the other having animated Spanish conversations with the lively house mom Anita. Her contagious laugh and infectious happiness has filled our group with many smiles this past week. The classes with her would often run overtime as talked about Cuban and American politics, the special times in Cuba, life in Cuba, and other cultural curiosities that we could exchange.

During the afternoons here, we’ve taken advantage of our surroundings to occupy ourselves. We took a hike to see a mural that was painted on the side of a mogote, the limestone mini mountains that tower over the Viñales National park. On another afternoon, we drove to a cave (second largest in all of Central America!!) and ventured in with our helmets, headlamps, and the cave dog Mocha that followed us in search of an adventure. Even though half of us were wearing flip flops and felt extremely unprepared, we were able to explore the dark cavern filled with sparkling stalagmites and beautiful rocky structures thanks to the help of our guide and each other.

To celebrate our last day in the National Park, we drove to a secluded area and got to take one last hike through it. We tired ourselves out chasing down baby pigs and walking through tobacco fields, then got to cool off in a river after lunch. After some down time and some nifty group discussion, it was time for dinner!

A full roasted pig was pulled out of what seemed like thin air, and we got to help cut it up before enjoying it.

We’ll sure miss Viñales, the National Park, and all the stray dogs we’ve met along the way! You won’t be forgotten!

-Ally and Julia

Pics:

1. Baby pigs just askin to be chased!

2. Nina, Sean, and Billy building garden beds!

3. Billy in the caves!

4. Ally, Julia, and Zoe enjoying wonderful massages by Amanda!

5. The group at the end of our final hike in Viñales (with our furry new member Sandpaper).

6. Amanda, Julia, Grant, Ally, and Kemper fiercely farming!