En route to finding the path across the valley to the town I had come across two small restaurants, in one they told me that they had very good food for vegetarians and served rice and vegetables and wine. I tried to walk there at night, down a path by the hotel but after five minutes in pitch darkness with neither light nor light pollution the silence of the woods suddenly began to spook me. They had asked me if I was definitely coming and I told them I didnt know, in the darkness on the deserted path I realised I probably would have been there only guest as the night time seemed a time to dine in the hotel after all.
Back at reception after my short walk into the woods I felt sorry for two German backpackers arriving on foot after the darkness had descended and to be told that the hotel was full, as were all the others in the area. I hoped they had a torch and that they managed to catch someone with a casa to rent before everyone went to sleep.
And so after my taxi each way foray into the thoroughly wound down town of Vinales I decided to have dinner in the hotel. It was a buffet affair which wasnt particularly vegetarian but there were salads and cheeses and bread and fruit and meat free green beans (unlike all the other types of beans so far that had been mixed with flesh) and little cups of wine could be bought from the adjoining bar. I went at around nine to avoid the same guests who I automatically avoided at my late breakfasts in the full to capacity hotel.
In the evenings the other guests, Germans and Canadians and a smattering of English all suddenly appeared, milling around back from their excursions and most disappeared quite early, not lingering too long in the bar either. After dinner I sat around the pool with my wine and read by lamplight and listened to the insects and got bitten.
On my last two days in Vinales I stared to slow down and make the time go more slowly, not doing so much and not reading so much but simply sitting, or lounging by the pool and watching the beautiful valley. This watching and deliberate slowing down of time was helped by the black birds of prey circling high above the lines of tiny horses wending their way through the valley and farmers, driving their oxen minutely below.
The beauty of the lush emerald valley and the strange mountains rising up from it sometimes became a backdrop to the characters passing through it. I had positioned my lounger in the shade at the edge of the pool and at the edge of the hill top by a spot where I knew inevitably coach trippers would periodically come to take pictures and smoke and shriek.
One of them, a young flaxen haired woman appeared in front of me. She was tall and strong and tanned, statuesque and strident in an ecru sundress. She strode to the step overlooking the valley with a mojito in her hand. Next came a young man with brown haired grown a half inch out of its crew cut. He sat down closely beside her on the step where she had sat and he promptly knocked over her mojito. It crashed and splintered on the concrete and she jumped up. She was facing me now with her back to the view cursing in her lilting hurdy gurdy tones all the beauty behind her forgotten.
The young man looked crestfallen, the breaking of the glass was a tragedy. He walked back inside with head held low. The blond goddess turned around once more, checking her perch for broken glass, revealing a wet patch on her thin cotton dress. She sat back down and her companion soon brought her another drink. He gave her the glass as a humble servant might offer refreshment to a Saudi princess and went away to sit on a narrow step close to the bar his demeanour showing as much dejection as one of the sandy stray dogs who occasionally darted past the pool.
After taking a few sips of her cocktail the woman looked back over at him and presently got up and lead him back to the step to sit down next to her, her tones now soothing. Soon she was standing and he was taking photos of her with the valley behind her and the drink in her hand. The colour of the liquid matched the colour of her dress and her hair shone in the sunlight. After the photographs were taken she walked inside and he twas left sipping the last of the mixture around the ice cubes. There only ever had been a drink for her.
I later saw the princess at the ballet in Havana reminding me of a phenomena I had observed where people who have made some sort of impression although often not actually met make one more appearance in another place, in London even when encountered four thousand miles away, before disappearing again for ever.