East of Santa Clara, the Carretera Central and Route 4-321 run through the Vuelta Arriba region, one of Cuba’s premier tobacco-growing regions. The scenery is marvelous as you pass fields tilled by ox-drawn plows and stir up the dust in small agricultural towns lent a Wild West feel by horses tethered to sagging arcades that line the main streets.
The district is unique within Cuba for the year-end parrandas, festivals in which rockets whiz through the streets and hand-held fireworks and “mortars” explode with a military boom as the townsfolk of each community divide into two historic camps and vie to see who can produce the best parade float and the loudest din. In all, 14 local communities hold parrandas, most notably Placetas, Remedios, Zulueta, and San Antonio de las Vueltas, which uniquely holds its parranda in August.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition