We didn’t actually stay at this casa, but we spent considerable time with Jesús and Tomasa in their scrupulously maintained home. Sometime in 2011, they will complete construction of a self-contained room with private entrance, located behind the main house. The new rental space will feature access to a rooftop deck with a commanding view of the surrounding valley and distant mountains.
Jesús, who was born on Christmas Day, is a gentleman in his seventies with eccentric passions and prodigious energy to pursue them. He designed the “national reference prehistoric park”—the garden adjacent to the casa, where we first met him. He delights in conducting tours of the garden and explaining all of the plants, rocks and fossils. We engaged Jesús for a whole afternoon to guide us on a hike to a cave. By flashlight, we walked several minutes until we reached a body of water where some hikers take a refreshing dip. That’s where Jesús regaled us with two a capella songs that we recorded on video. The fee was whatever we decided we wanted to pay him, which ended up being 20 CUCs.
Advised that his wife Tomasa is a spectacular cook, we reserved a date for dinner, which we enjoyed with the couple, their daughter and son. It was a lively event including more singing from Jesús and his grown children. Tomasa’s baked chicken was divine, and the accompanying comida criolla was delicious: black beans and rice, rice, plantain chips, and salad.
If you wish to see some of the images I captured while on a guided tour with Jesús, take a look at my video "A hike into the mystical Viñales Valley (Cuba) with Jesús Arencibia Coro" on my Quakeuptube site on YouTube. When you select a video from my site, there are accompanying text notes that summarize the content or provide more information. (Note: I would have posted the video to TripAdvisor, but it exceeds TA's 100 mb limit.