Pinar del Rio. Vinales and surroundings • Cuba

Discover Pinar del Rio, the mecca of tobacco, through an immersive video of less than 10 minutes. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of this great Cuban agricultural region, where the first inhabitants, the Guanahatabey Indians, lived long before the arrival of the conquistadors. Explore its many caves, once inhabited by these peaceful peoples, as well as Che Guevara's iconic shelter during the Missile Crisis. Walk through its vast tobacco plantations, witnesses of the rich agricultural past of the region, and observe the daily life of local farmers. You will also discover Santeria, a tenacious African tradition marked by the veneration of ancestors through Christian statues. Immerse yourself in the heart of Pinar del Rio, and live the Cuban experience in all its authenticity.
00:00 • intro | 01:01 • Cueva de las Portales | 02:30 • Che Gevara's hideout during the missile crisis | 03:24 • tobacco and cigars | 05:40 • a walk in Vinales | 07:08 • Santeria: statuettes at the foot of the trees | 08:06 • Hutia, endemic mammal of Cuba

made with photos and videos taken during the trip Cuba (EN)

Pinar del Rio, before the arrival of the conquistadors 

The first inhabitants of the region were the Guanahatabey Indians, a peaceful and troglodyte nomadic people who lived mainly from the resources of the sea. The Guanahatabey had disappeared before the arrival of the conquistadors, which ironically protected them from many inconveniences. .. 

Apart from the Guanahatabey, other so-called "pre-Columbian" populations occupied the lands of the current region of Pinar del Rio, namely the Ciboney (or Siboney) but also the Tainos, this population which opposed the conquistadors in the Baracoa region, with their chief Hatuey at their head. 

The conquistadors did not really attach themselves to this region... They were warriors and not farmers. Especially since they could not affirm the local populations since they had disappeared. 

The first settlers to take an interest in the region were from the Canary Islands, towards the end of the 15th century. They developed the cultivation of tobacco and developed large ranches for raising cattle. 

And when the demand for tobacco became important in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, means of communication such as the railway developed in the region. The city was then nicknamed "the Mecca of tobacco". 

Che Guevara's cave 

The Pinar del Rio region has lush nature and deep caves. It is one of those caves that Che Guevara prefers to establish his headquarters, and also to hide, during the missile crisis. 


A walk in the countryside in the region of Pinar del Rio, in Vinales for example, allows you to see how local farmers live and especially to visit tobacco plantations between the mogotes (small rounded mountains, typical in this region). 


African slaves, Christianized by force, kept their customs by venerating their ancestors, but through Christian statues. Thus he could perhaps make the slaveholders believe that they had embraced their religion... It is not uncommon to find statuettes of saints at the foot of the trees, proof that the santeria is not dead.


about the place, Pinar del Rio:

Pinar del Rio which was originally called, in 1867, Nueva Filipinas due to the large number of Filipino workers who worked in the tobacco plantations. Pinar del Rio is a vast agricultural region in western Cuba.

Pinar del Rio owes its name to the presence of pine forests along the Rio Guama.


Spoken comments in the film: 

The province of Pinar del Rio in Cuba is an agricultural region in the west of the island. The region is called the Tobacco Mecca. It offers magnificent landscapes, alternating green valleys and limestone hills covered with dense vegetation.


This is the entrance to the cave that housed Ernesto Che Guevara during the missile crisis in 1962. But it is above all a set of remarkable caves that housed the Guanahatabay Indians long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.


The region of Pinar del Rio is famous for its tobacco plantations, one of the most famous products of the island of Cuba.


Under the domination of very Catholic Spain, the cane fields have multiplied in Cuba. And with them, the number of slaves imported from Africa to work in these fields. In addition to stealing their freedom and moving them to uncharted territory, the Spanish masters attempted to steal their religion from slaves mostly of Yoruba origin. The slaves therefore reinvented their beliefs by associating the Catholic saints venerated in the churches with their pantheon of deities. Thus they worshiped their own gods while making the masters believe that they had converted to Catholicism. This practice (one could say this religion) is called "santeria" in Cuba. 

Statuettes of Catholic saints, inhabited by Yoruba deities, are often seen at the foot of trees in the Cuban countryside.

What's the weather like in Pinar del Rio?

tobacco, Cuba, Pinar del Rio • Cuba
Cueva de los Portales (Che Guevara cave), Pinar del Rio • Cuba

Cueva de los Portales (Che Guevara cave)

objects of the santeria in the countryside , Pinar del Rio • Cuba

objects of the santeria in the countryside

an ox cart in Vinales, Pinar del Rio • Cuba

an ox cart in Vinales

Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales, Pinar del Rio • Cuba

Mural de la Prehistoria, Vinales

Pinar del Rio

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