This was our favourite casa out of 5 in Cuba. We arrived like refugees on the Viazul from the sweltering pavement of Havana and as soon as we got off the bus, met Orquidia waiting for us at the stop. She immediately arranged a taxi (no charge - which was greatly appreciated) and we went the short distance to her place around the corner from centro Vinales (about a 15 minute walk).
We got settled and were soon treated to fresh mangoes, fresh because it was mango season and the mangoes were literally falling off the trees all around. (Bananas and pineapples were in season too.) Delicious! Coffee was also offered and appreciated. Later on, as we sat on the porch Raul made us each a mojito too. And it really hit the spot! (Hint: Casa dinner is better than restaurant dinner, but you'll find that out for yourself :)
The casa is kept beautifully and you have most of it to yourself, a kitchen area with refrigerator and sink and plenty of filtered water, living area and bedroom. But the best part is the front porch. This casa is uniquely situated at the junction of two unpaved farm roads. (This junction is only 25 metres off the main road where there is a stop for the Vinales (hop on/off) Bus Tour which we took on one day up to the Cueva del Indio and the Hotel Los Jazmines.) You can just sit on the porch and watch Cuban life unfold before you. Farmers with oxen, horses, horses and carts, bikes, motorbikes, electric bikes, cars, pedestrians, neighbours, carrying all sorts of interesting things, all friendly, and every form of urban/farm wildlife imaginable passing by. You have to experience it to believe it, but there can be nothing more fascinating to do in Vinales. The walk behind the casa through the farmers fields up to the Cueva de la Vaca, was spectacular mind you, not to mention the horse trip, tobacco farm and swim in the lake in the Valle de Silencio... but I digress :)
To top it all off, Orquidia is a natural and easy host. All four of us (including two kids) really enjoyed meeting her and her family and getting to know more about Cuban life. I'd like to think we made real friends here in 4 short days.