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Beyond Havana: Exploring Cuba’s Interior

December 18, 2013

Exploring Cuba's InteriorRising from the earth like sentinel soldiers, the Mogote dos Hermanas stand erect amidst acres of otherwise flat fields. The “twin sisters” are part of a legion of mogotes that pepper the other-worldly landscape. These bizarre, rocky hillocks were formed during the Jurassic Period when rainfall ate away at the valley floor, dissolving the limestone and leaving only small pockets untouched.

The Flavors of Cuba

October 16, 2013

Taste of CubaAs the first and last of the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean, Cuba has a Spanish influence that you can taste. Once a major trading port, Havana welcomed boatloads of immigrants from the European country and, along with them, their distinct culinary flavors.

Cuba Tobacco Farm Tour – Havana Cigar Production Up Close!

July 6, 2012

It’s hard to believe we were in Cuba – when I was growing up this country was so mysterious and inaccessible. But thanks to YMT's new program, we are able to see this land and explore its culture. Today we were to visit a tobacco farm to see how the cigars of Cuba were prepared. We wound through mountains and fertile valleys on our trip down from Havana to our destination – a tobacco farm in Vinales, Cuba, on the western end of the island. I could see why many compared this Caribbean country to New Zealand’s landscapes – it was gorgeous! Vinales is in the Vuelta Abajo district of Cuba, and is considered one of the premier tobacco growing areas of the country, and many tobacco enthusiasts consider it the best tobacco in the world. Our guide reminded us that Christopher Columbus was credited with first introducing these fine tobaccos to Europe. The small population in the Vinales Valley is engaged mainly in growing tobacco, and old methods such as hand tilling are still widely used. Seedlings are grown in special seed beds, and after 45 days are ready to be planted out, when the tobacco seed is actually planted into the surface of the soil. The farmer will visit the growing plant around 150 times during the growing season to care for the plants. The wrapper leaves for the outside of the cigar are grown under