Fin and MechanicO: Last Boat To Cuba

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FinTec, Feb 27, 2021.

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  1. Graniteone

    Graniteone 3,2,1...Beer me! Supporter

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    Fin is doing good, he pinged me while camping last night.
  2. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    Crazy bad internet to non existing. On cellular right now in Bayamo. Gas food water are all hard to find. Legistical challenge.
    Once get solid internet, update coming.....
    - Stealth camping with craps
    - Ice cream for food
    - Excellent off-road
    - Get to meet a Cuban judge and Cuban jail
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  3. SGrider

    SGrider I give up Supporter

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    I look forward to your updates on Cuba.
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  4. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Damn @FinTec, sounds like quite the adventure since you last posted and update! Look forward to when you get access to decent interweb and you're able to give us the skinny. Hopefully, visiting the Cuban judge and jail was incidental and not a result of stealth camping and crapping in the woods :eek7 :eek7:lol2 :lol2.
  5. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

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    Yes but subsisting solely on ice cream allows one to invoke the Twinkie Defence.
  6. dixda

    dixda Been here awhile Supporter

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    Mr Fin, It sounds like your living your teen years all over again! I pray all is well...
  7. Arbolmano

    Arbolmano Not so Studly

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    Geese. Ice Cream, Coffee and Beer. Does one need more? Oh yeah tortillas and Pork.
    Pooping in tall weeds Comrade.
    Keep up the good work
    , M needs a Che sticker eh? Or complete portrait on box.
  8. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

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    Geese? I missed that post. FinTec is definitely going above and beyond my expectations if he's feasting on geese.
  9. Slasage

    Slasage Adventurer

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    Wait..."judge" & "jail"? In the same sentence?
    uh oh
  10. Graniteone

    Graniteone 3,2,1...Beer me! Supporter

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    Like ice cream for your main food is something new! Ha!
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  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Hopefully that jail was not a result of you have a GPS unit in Cuba...which is illegal.
  12. HandCanonShootr

    HandCanonShootr Been here awhile Supporter

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    Jaimie just debunked the "NO GPS Allowed" as well as "Don't Take US Dollars", seems like both were good advice in past, but no longer apply in current day Cuba.

    Eakins, Thx for the loads of info you provide, both with comments on RRs, as well as your great, no fantastic maps.

    Mike B
    eakins and Graniteone like this.
  13. Graniteone

    Graniteone 3,2,1...Beer me! Supporter

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    FYI- Fin is still using the Garmin InReach.
    duggram and eakins like this.
  14. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Most Cuban cops who stop you might have no idea what that Inreach or Spot device is if it does not have a screen attached and looks like a GPS. It's just a box to them for the most part. I still would not flaunt it .
  15. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

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    :dhorse

    :fpalm
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  16. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yahoo, is internet hard to find! I have so much written up and even have a great interview with Captain Ludwig in the pipe ready. Just hard to find fast steady access to the web. Again the below might have some things that needed cleaning up but I'll sweep back through later.
    _______________________________________________________

    One destination on the list was the famous Varadero. Think of it as a mini-Florida type peninsular that is maybe half a mile wide. Lots of beaches and lots of hotels. I figured it was worth a stop. My Casa was excellent and right on the main drag. And of course run by a fantastic family. Here is the Mom and Son

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    And the dad who did all of the excellent cooking (Did not get his name)

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    This is the dads ride, another Russian “box” shaped car called the Moskvich. From what I could get from the dad, in the pecking order of Russian made cars is that the Lada is the cream of the crop and all others are sub-par. Man, they just did not have anything resembling an imagination back then. The engineers must have started the design with a box and then just never expanded from here. Efficient, gets the job done, same parts all models, etc. But man, uninspiring looks. But actually I find most cars from the 80’s of crappy design in esthetics.

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    The son spoke pretty good English so was able to chat with him some on Cuba. He is going to school right now to be in the medical field. He was attending classes in Havana when the pandemic hit so went back to his parents’ home in Varadero to remote school and help at the Casa. Apparently the majority of hotels there are 49% owned by Spanish companies. The remaining 51% is Cuban of course. I could have taken dozens of shots of huge empty hotels but here is one to give you an idea.

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    I did read in one of the guide books about how in Varadero there is an artist statue of Don Quixote on his horse. I am a fan of the story and sometimes I even relate on my travels. The brief of it: Don Quixote was a nobleman in Spain in 1600’s who lost his mind and decided to travel Spain to bring back chivalry and honor to his country, Spain. In his travels he creates his own reality of what he sees and makes it fit into his ongoing knightly story. Now I certainly have not lost my mind…I think…. but the aspect of ones travels as a sort of movie starring themselves is how I look at travel. Because no matter where you go, there you are so I assume that makes me the main character. I better make it good then.

    So based from some loose descriptions I find the restaurant with the Don statue. It is up on a grassy hill overlooking town and the ocean. So I park down on the street, hike up the steps and take some basic shots of the statue. Not sure what happened to his side kick Sancho as his mule was there but no Sancho?

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    However, not really feeling it. I wanted a shot of me and MechanicO next to Don in the same position. So I walked over to the lone lady in the closed restaurant and asked her in my terrible Spanish if I could ride my motorcycle up the grassy area and park next to statue for some pictures? Typical of Cuban’s, no problem, go for it. So I ride up the grassy hill and park next to Don. This is where the universe handed me a freebie, I needed a lance to hold just like Don. To the left was this castle structure and right in front of it was, for no reason at all, this 20 ft pipe leaning against the castle. Perfect.

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    So using the tripod and timer, I finally got this shot…..

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    One of my favorite shots so far in Cuba. Actually the lady in the restaurant was watching me the whole time, I am sure saying “what is the crazy gringo doing?” walked out and volunteered to take the pics with my camera. Funny enough, not as good as the tripod but so nice to offer. My friend.

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    For some reason if I am on a peninsula I like to see how far to the end I can ride it. Well, here you go the end of Varadero with some along the way shots

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    A bunch of vintage car taxis hanging out at the gas pumps

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    Seeing as Varadero is known for its beaches I did feel obligated to go take a swim. I waited until end of the day so this English/Irishman does not cook himself. Admittedly the beaches were fantastic, white soft sand and bath temperature clear water. Ha, this shot makes it look like I am in a apocalyptic world.

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    Time to keep heading down the Norther coast to the east. Hmmm, not sure about this one....is it?

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    When it is time to take a break midday, I look for any offshoot road that says Playa de XXXX and roll towards it to take a break. Usually there is something to see and some palapas to hang under. This one did not disappoint as I ate a lunch made from stolen breakfast left overs.

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    But of course, the usual ghost town atmosphere. No one is ever at these places due to the lockdown.

    However, never stops dudes from walking up and asking about MechanicO

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    And more check points with the courtesy salute.

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  17. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    As I am making my way to my next stop I ride through Santa Clara. No plans to stay there as I am finding I am not liking the larger cities. They are kinda the same and always a tad stressful in dealing with. I am enjoying the smaller towns off the main path. My goal with Santa Clara was photos of the Che memorial. So I battle the traffic, make it to the spot that looks large and glorious. Park the bike, start walking

    over to the memorial only to be met halfway by a soldier dud telling me the memorial is closed. I ask if I can just take a few pics. Nope. Closed, please leave. Nuts. But as I drive away I turn on my GoPro and screen capture this

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    Proud of my accomplishment, I send via WhatsApp to the Furious 5 group (we are all keeping in touch during all this via WhatsApp) and Klaus spanks me big time with the shot he got at the monument

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    WTF Klaus! Apparently there was a dance troupe there of girls and he asked them to join him in a picture. I get a soldier telling me to buzz off and he gets this. Well played senior, well played.

    My goal for the night was the coastal town of Caibarien. A trick I have been using to find out where is a good stop to go that is NOT a big city is using AirB&B. I bring up on my phone and start searching along the coast. If all of a sudden a dozen prospects pop up in an area, must be a spot that has some appeal. And this was the case with Caibarien. Never on my radar until that morning. And there was even a hostel outside of town right on the beach. Done. Rolling into town

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    Town itself was a tad run down actually, glad I did not stay there. Went to where the hostel was and was greeted by this guy, Fidelito

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    Great guy who treated me like a king! But first the place. It was funky, real funky. It was called “El Tormenta” if that is any indication. It was almost like staying at a carnival attraction for the Pirates of the Caribbean meets Gilligan's Island. Everything was about being like a ship wreck. Huge bar area that you could easily hold 100 people in. But the structure, oh man. Build a structure like what I described, then lift it 2 feet and drop it. And then do no maintenance for 12 years. To get to various levels and rooms was like a game of shoots and ladders. This place would give a building code and fire inspector an instant heart attack. I loved it.

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    Of course we had to roll MechanicO into a completely inappropriate spot in the place. MO basically blocked everything in every direction, but they insisted we do this and it was OK.

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    I was told to taker the “Executive” room as I was the only one there. My window looked out over the ocean and a cool breeze rolled through it. But the bed was, length wise, between two walls and was probably 6’ in length. I am 6’ 1” so it was a bit of a torture device but the rum helped make it work.

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    Funny enough outside in front of the place right on the beach was this

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    Totally looked like a pill-box or bunker. You could get into it from the back. Maybe a through-back to cold war days? Get ready for the imperialist pigs to storm the beaches!

    And then of course, out of nowhere I am served a crazy good chicken dinner. When I first arrived they said they have no beer (a trend I will soon see more of). I say I am Irish and that is unacceptable and there will be a fight. Fidelito, funded by me, goes into town and finds 6 beers at a premium price (I think it was $2 a beer). Fight avoided. I then give him three beers for his trouble and we spend the night working on them and moving onto rum.

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    He knew almost no English so I decided to try a function on Google Translate called “Conversation”. Holy cow did it work well. It allowed him and I to chat for over two hours back and forth no problem. It slows things down a bit but it does work. Once you get that hang of it and commit it really does do the job. Found out Fidelito is 31 years old, has a wife and 9 month old son named Ethen, but it was a Cuban version of Ethan I forget. I asked if he had a picture of his son he could show me. Broke my heart as he had to sell his phone recently but he had a Micro memory card wrapped up in a piece of paper he carried with him with pictures. I bust out my computer load it up and scroll though his entire family album as we sip rum.

    So I tell Fidelito I plan to ride out to the cosway just outside of town. If you look on a map of Caibarien you will see a super long cosway that links a bunch of shallow water islands with hotels on them. As we sat at the hostel you could see it span out into the ocean in front of us. I assumed Fidelito had been on it as it was right there. No he had not! I could believe it, but my nievity of the situation shown through. There is a toll and a checkpoint to go on the cosway. Apparently even though Fidelito lived here all his life he did not have the funds or the clearance (I think) to go out there. It broke my heart again. I then had a cunning plan, come join me tomorrow Fidelito! I’ll drop all my bags at the hostel, run the passenger pegs and we’ll go out together. He was stoked. We planned to leave in the morning.
  18. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    So the cosway (are these called cosways?) itself is pretty non-descript. Literally the width of a 2 lane road. The story goes this cosway was a complete ecological disaster. It split an entire ecosystem in half and caused all kinds of havoc. I did see some connecting tunnels under the road so not sure if this was the fix or not.
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    Took about 50 minutes of riding to get out to the end. And of course there were the huge, and empty, hotels there.

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    But in the middle of all these giant hotels was this old relic

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    I had to go down that driveway and check it out. Sure enough it was an old hotel from who knows when that did not make it. It might have even been the original one and then got ignored. It had been so long ago, the path to the beach was long gone and overgrow, unusable.

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    Maybe it is just me but I always want to know the story of places like this. Who owned it and why did it fail? Just curious.

    And here is as far as I could go before I hit a gate. And of course, in Cuba, you are never alone. A dude was station at the nearby water treatment plant and came out to chat. Spoke great English and we talked motorcycles a bit. As always I think he was bored and just glad to meet someone an chat. Gave me a pose with MO.

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    I paid a toll to come out here and sure enough, they get you a again coming out. Jeeez. Even the toll guy seemed to think it was a tad over the top as we both laughed a bit when he saw me again just two hours later.

    Continue my way east along the coast with the usual stops of covid checkpoints and such

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    A complete and running solar field

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    More old cars in small towns

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    This guy again

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    Ha, I always think of that Seinfeld episode whenever I see this name. What does it rhyme with?

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    And of course could not help myself with this town name. I wanted to go into town and shout “You are all a bunch of Morons” and have everyone agree with me.

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    And here was a rare site, a gun range! I have been to enough of these it was definitely a gun range. You can even see on those signs on the building showing some pictures of rifles. I took this picture VERY quickly as you just never know who is watching and what they think!

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    More winning!

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  19. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    Next stop on my eastward trip was Santa Lucia. Same trick with AirB&B, seemed another beach community. The place I booked at responded they were closed but their neighbor was still open. All worked out. Nice enough place and got me dinner and breakfast. Great beach the next morning on a walk.


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    Owners of casa had concern it would rain that night so they insisted I roll my MO right onto their front porch.


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    The next day I started with the intent of going to Gibara and catching up with Jamie for a night. I would arrive early, as I was not far, find us a place, and good to go. Did not go as planned.

    Ride down coast was the usual Cuban mixed bag of sites.

    Great billboards

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    Blown out tires on huge truck trailers

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    Fans at Covid check points

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    As usual, swung towards to beach to just chill for a bit and relax. As I have found in Cuba that can be hard to do when you ride around in what they believe is a space ship of some sort. I just wanted to sit down and have some water on the beach when one by one dudes show up with questions. Hey, I don’t want to be the jerk so I spend some time chatting with them. One spoke good English so we could talk.

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    Well this turned out great as I was able to get some information on a back way into Gibara as opposed to just taking the main road in. Excellent, I so wanted more off road. With their blessing and a rough idea where to go off I went on the first back road.

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    Rode through some very small, what I would call, farming villages. Then as I got closer to the ocean it really opened up into some excellent hard pack two track road until I finally hit the coastal road that was magnificent.

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    This was a monumental point, this represents the last of my snack food from the US I brought with me. Trust me, this was gold. There is no, and I mean no, snack foods here like this. Maybe there is and I missed it, but things like this just do not exist. I ate it very slowly.

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    Stopped by some wind turbines and enjoyed the cool breeze. Unknown to me just around the corner was a new adventure with Cuban authorities.

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  20. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

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    As I made my way along the costal back road into Bibara I rounded a turn to find a local cop car parked on the road just outside of the town limits. They step out and indicate I need to stop. No problem, just another Covid or standard check. But I could tell these guys where a bit more agitated. Language was an issue but I got the usual questions of where I was, where am I going, what country I am from, etc. But none of it seemed to satisfy them. After some time I figured out they wanted me to follow them into town. I did run my camera during the chat but once they got in their car I turned it on and got this shot as they pull out and I follow. And yes, it is a sweet Lada with cop tires, cop suspension, cop engine.

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    We get into town and suddenly their Lada stalls. I hear them turn it over and over and over. I finally see them get out

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    And push the Lada to the side of the road

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    Then the younger officer gets something out of the back

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    It is a stick about 1 meter long with marks on it. He them proceeds to insert the stick into the gas tank filler and withdraw it. Yep, no gas on stick. They are out of gas.

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    I take this opportunity to maybe get myself out of this and start to dismount while saying “Yo tengo quarto litros aqui” as I point at my Roto-Pak gas can on the back of MechanicO. The senior officer waves back at me “No, No” and proceeds to keep talking on phone. I try again and comment that we can fix this right now and to use this gas, “No, No” again. Not sure if pride or policy or what, they would not take my gas.

    More talking on his phone and he finally comes over to me and attempts to describe where the policy station is in town and for me to go there. Seriously? I need to turn myself in to the station? OK.

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    So I take off in search of the policy station while these guys ask themselves why they did not use my gas. Of course I can’t find it. I drive around for probably 20 minutes with no luck. I even ask several people where it is

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    I make it all the way to the other side of town where there is a Covid check point to enter town. They point right behind them to the police station is. About 200 yrds up this hill.

    I roll in and an officer meets me and asks for me to park the bike under some trees and to wait in this outside waiting area with a few other people. They are sensitive to cameras and pictures so I did not take anything at this point. Then I wait and wait and wait and I still don’t know why I am here.

    This was definitely some type of holding area for people who have done something that the law needs to chat with them about. Finally an office says to follow him and we walk to an office opening and see him salute whoever is in there and the only word I heard was “Judge” in all the Spanish. Oh crap.

    Sure enough I walk in and there is a big wig looking guy behind a desk and a single chair in front him. To his right are two jail cells with bunks. Classic Cuban office, all concrete, crumbling, not enough lighting and furniture is at least 25 years old. What little I knew before this trip was that in Cuba certain offenses are essentially judges on the spot. Get caught speeding, go to town, meet with judge, get you fine and pay it. So I am guessing this is what is happening but I still have no idea why I am here!

    Usual questions of who, what, where, etc. Then he gets up, takes my passport, does not say a word and walks out of the office. OK, I’ll stay here. I wait for 30 minutes and nothing. I was SO temped to take a picture of the room but knew better.

    During all this I was texting Jamie that my plans had drastically changed and I was being held up. Jamie texted back that he just tried rolling into town and was turned around and told it was closed. Holy crap, now it all makes sense. The town is closed down due to Covid and here comes a gringo, roaring into town on a back road, with enough electronics on him to launch the space shuttle, and on what looks like a weaponized BMW. Nuts, I hope this is not bad.

    I suddenly had a vision of how bad this could get. I envision the judge walking back in and asking me one question, “senior, do you associate with an American named Throttlemeister?”. Gulp.

    Side note: for those not familiar with the Cuban saga of Throttlemeister and Guantanamo US Military Base please ready this thread starting HERE
    *Hey, Throttlemeister, I told Captain Ludwig you said howdy and he ABSOLUTELY remembers you and says howdy back.

    Back to my vision….”Do I know Throttlemeister? No never heard of the guy. Well, I have heard of him, but only in passing. I mean we did exchange some information before my trip. Oh man, that does sound bad….do I need a lawyer?”

    Luckily this never happened. Like many fears in life, they end with a wimper. Eventually the judge came back, I got from him they were just waiting on immigration to confirm who I was and then I was free to go. Another hour of me sitting there and one dude walks out, hands me my passport and says “adios”. That is it. I walk over to MechanicO and as I leave I do video capture these two shots.

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    Same Lada as before but with gas. Of note, everyone was respectful and professional. Bummed I missed 2.5 hours of my day, but in the scheme of things an interesting experience and lessons learned.