Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From the Beach to the Mountains

We regretted leaving Costasur behind early on Wednesday morning, but not as much as we would have if we were returning to Hotel Belle Habana.

We headed along the coastline and then cross country to the mountains. Our bus took us most of the way. Then we switched over to ride up the mountain in open-back Russian trucks. We climbed a ladder into an open truck to go up to Topes de collanted at about 2400 feet elevation in the Escambray Mountains. It was a Russian truck, with a chinese engine and a Cuban driver . . . the perfect combination according to our guide.
Our first impression was that the truck was touristy overkill. Our bus could easily have taken the roads to Topes de Collantes where we saw the Visitor Center and were joined by a very entertaining local guide.

Welcome drinks!
Not after that. The road up to Codina would have been impassible with our regular bus . . . mud, curves, ruts. The hills were steep. The drop-off on either side was far. It was a 5- to 7-mile, bumpy, lumpy, laugh producing journey with fantastic vistas, and branches snapping your arms and face if you didn't watch up for when to duck.

At the top is Codina. We were welcomed with a glass of El Gincila, made of white rum, ginger, honey, mineral water, and lemon. Yummy.

It is not really a town, just a hacienda/bar with showers and toilets and outdoor kitchen and outdoor restaurant. They house trekkers in tents, providing mattresses and blankets to supplement their sleeping bags. They offer 3- and 5-day treks of 10 to 15 miles a day. The terrain looked frighteningly rigorous.
We hiked only for about 2 hours, all near the hacienda. We saw many birds. Went into a pretty big cave with all the requisites--including the need to crouch low so as not to stab your head on a stalactite, carry a flashlight to see your nose in front of your face, and watch for bats. Very cool.  The views from the hilltop on the other side of the cave were all the way to the sea.   
Shortly before we returned to Codina, we crossed a steam on an Indiana Jones bridge and were in a sort of half-cave. There sat a man roasting a pig on a spit over an open fire. Ugly! Yummy! We sat and took in the aroma for a while then trekked on up to the hacienda.
After resting a few minutes on the porch we had an amazingly good lunch of beans and rice, pickled carrots and beets, manioc (a potato-like vegetable), pineapple and grapefruit, and of course, roasted pig.

No comments: