Today was an excursion day. We got on the bus at 9:30 am to go to Las Terrazas, an ecological reserve west of La Habana. Now an ecological reserve, this place used to be a wasteland, destroyed by deforestation. In 1971, the government took it over and turned it into an ecological reserve, growing the plants and trees back and reversing the effects of deforestation. In the 90s, a hotel was built on the land to encourage ecological tourism. There is also a community that works and lives in the middle of the reserve.
We started at the base of a river that has a waterfall. We were allowed to hang out and swim there for an hour, before heading to lunch in the community. There were nice places to sit and talk and there was also a big rock that you could jump off, into the river. The water is so clear, but very cold.
When lunch was finished, we all went to the coffee shop for coffee. All of this was included in the price of the tour, so everyone got to enjoy coffee or tea made with local coffee beans. The coffee shop sits right below someone’s house in the community. Lunch was the same way—there were tables and chairs right below a house and all the cooking was done in the house. I think that the tourism is integrated into the community and that is how some of the people make their living—in other words, that is their government job.
After coffee, we got back on the bus so that we could go see the “buena vista”—good view. The view was magnificent—it overlooked the whole area and the sun was out, making it even better.
When our tour was finished, we got on the bus and made our way back to our hotel. We drove about an hour and a half west of Havana, into the Pinar del Río province, to get to Las Terrazas, so we made the journey back east at the end of the day. It was a fun day and we had the rest of the night to ourselves.